Planning a weekend in West Cork? Inchydoney is the ultimate adventure-and-spa stay
Seawater therapies, algae body wraps, starlight kayaking, daily homemade chocolates, dolphins (!), Atlantic ocean views and magnificent dining – Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa might just be heaven on earth.
“They clearly only hire the nicest people in Ireland… ” I whisper to my husband as we exit the stunning lobby area en route to another aquatic activity. “It’s sort of like being in the Irish version of The White Lotus but with absolutely zero drama.” Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa is Ireland’s answer to a tropical and luxurious seaside resort. Who needs Hawaii when this is on our doorstep?
The word “staycation” has a funny connotation for most people. It reeks of the ‘pandemic lingo’ we’ve all grown accustomed to over the past few years – something we’d prefer to move away from and forget as we begin to return to normality – but as we know, staycations are really special. Celebrating all that Ireland has to offer and being able to holiday “at home” is something I personally will no longer take for granted.
When the weather decides to play ball, there isn’t a more beautiful place than West Cork and a weekend at Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa is the ideal base to do some exploring. From wandering into the colourful nearby Clonakilty to beach walks and ocean activities, you can wear yourself out before hitting the seawater therapy pool and the plethora of spa treatments at the award-winning spa.
On arrival, we were greeted with a glass of Five Farms Irish crème liqueur and our bags were speedily brought up to our beautiful room which genuinely took our breath away. Nautical notes in the interiors, the seahorse chocolates left out to welcome us, plus the spectacular view of Inchydoney Beach beyond the balcony.
We booked in for starlight kayaking with the team at Atlantic Sea Kayaking on our first evening. Full disclosure; I am, as I call it, a “Nervous Nelly” when it comes to anything “outdoorsy”. However, our experience of starlight kayaking was so peaceful and calming that it felt like a spa treatment in itself. That night, we drove out to Reen Pier where we met our instructor and knowledgeable leader Santiago. He kindly calmed my nerves and helped our group into our kayaks. We slowly glided out under the moonlight while listening to the many stories and tales of the lake and surrounding stars. As if the night couldn’t be any more perfect, we were all in awe of the amazing bioluminescent plankton that glittered around our kayaks, it really was a wonder for the eyes.
After the most delicious breakfast the following morning, we headed out to Courtmacsherry to join the Atlantic Whale & Wildlife Tour. Run by the lovely husband-and-wife duo Mark and Patricia Gannon, we were led out to sea with guides in hand and tips on how to spot some wildlife from a distance. Taking in the beautiful coastlines of West Cork would have been more than enough to enjoy the boat ride but we were so lucky to see herds of bottlenose dolphins almost immediately. The entire group was overcome with joy and it really felt like we witnessed something magical. As Mark, our expert guide put it “Dolphins really know when to put on a show.” A minke whale also appeared on the horizon, twirling itself up from the water and splashing back to the surface.
We then retreated back to the hotel for some pampering before dinner. Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa has been voted Ireland’s Leading Spa Resort at the World Travel Awards seven times (seriously… seven times!). The hotel is home to Ireland’s first seawater spa, offering an array of seawater therapies as well as more traditional spa treatments too. During our stay, I opted for the seawater massage bath followed by a classical algae body wrap. My skin felt incredibly soft afterwards and my mind completely rested. After my wrap, I was given a little bowl of fruit and pomegranate ice water to enjoy in the quiet area to close out the treatment session.
The Gulfstream Restaurant at Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa boasts local food and fine dining with panoramic views of the ocean, with a menu featuring the best of Cork artisan produce and suppliers. All of the ingredients are sourced within the county of Cork – with delicious fresh seafood and West Cork prime Hereford beef fillet taking centre stage. After a decadent dessert, we relaxed in the cosy lounge area for the night with some cocktails.
On our final morning, we had a light breakfast (featuring some tasty mini, fluffy pancakes) and took a walk along the stunning Inchydoney beach before checking out and saying our goodbyes. We made it back to Dublin that afternoon in under three and a half hours and spent much of the journey wondering when would be too soon to go back.
Sophie Teyssier was a guest of Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa. This article was originally published in April 2022.