An ideal family or group outing is a half day Guided Snorkelling Tour.
Your personal instructor will take you through the first stage of selecting the rental equipment, which is all included in the excursion fee. You will be wearing a full wetsuit, hood, mask, fins & snorkel, booties and snorkelling vest or buoyancy aid with gloves optional. You will learn how to ensure a good fit of all the equipment, in particular the mask and snorkel - there are small sizes specially for children. The wetsuits are thicker than those used for windsurfing but if you have your own, you might prefer to wear that with perhaps an additional wetsuit top or jacket for extra warmth provided by us.
Prerequisites are swimming ability, feeling comfortable in the water and general good health, with a minimum age for children of 6 yrs. Minimum numbers required for the tours are 4 adults or 3 adults + 2 children / 2 adults + 4 children and it is best to book your tour in advance. Youngsters must be accompanied by an adult / guardian or parent.
- Half day guided snorkelling tour pp € 40.00
- Children under 12 (primary school age) get a 25% discount when accompanied by 2 adults
The snorkel tour itself is not strenuous and the instructor will be with you at all times. The best months for snorkelling in West Cork are mid-May to end-September when the water temperature can be between 14 and 17 degrees and the visibility and fish life are at their best.
The snorkelling tour takes place either in a nearby nature reserve called "Lough Hyne" or similar beach / cove location with easy access to shallow water or a boat trip to a nearby island or rocky shore. The choice depends on other reservations, weather conditions and available spaces on a given day. The coastal waters of Ireland were declared a whale & dolphin sanctuary in the 1990's and West Cork is the feeding ground for some large species such as fin, humpback and minke whales. We also have sightings of dolphins, harbour porpoises, sunfish, basking sharks and leatherback turtles during our boat journeys out and an opportunity to swim with seals.
Before entering the water your instructor will teach you how to inflate and deflate your buoyancy aid (snorkelling vest), use of the whistle for emergencies, hand signals to communicate to each other or the shore party.
You will learn how to breath comfortably through the snorkel mouthpiece and ensure the mask makes a good seal with your face so that it does not leak.
Entry and exits from the water depend on each location but you will be briefed on this too.
You then proceed into the water and engage with and interact where safe and possible with marine animals and flora and fauna. Sea life at shallow depths that can be enjoyed by snorkellers include
sea weeds and kelp, anemones, shellfish, crustaceans
and fish such as blennies, dogfish, starfish, squid, pollack, sand eels, pipefish, scorpion fish and different varieties of wrasse.
Hot drinks are provided when you get back into the boat or onland (Lough Hyne & Barloge). For boat trips it's a good idea to bring a windproof jacket & woolly hat!
If you wish, your instructor can bring along an underwater camera and provide you with your special photographs both below and above the water at a small extra charge. These can then be emailed to you or downloaded onto a disc as a lovely momentum of your unique experience.
Rental Only - "Go it Alone"
If you are a confident swimmer and happy to venture into the water with a friend or family member and not guided by an instructor then you have the option of renting all equipment for your trip, either for a half day or full day.
We provide you with details / copy map, tidal information and weather to help you plan your outing. A full set consists of a wetsuit, hood, mask, fins & snorkel, booties and snorkelling vest or buoyancy aid with gloves optional. We do not rent out weightbelts so you can only float in/on the water rather than engage in free-diving as that is more risky and would require special training and qualification. We also have wetsuits to fit children from the age of 6 upwards.
- Half day (2-3 hrs) rental pp € 25.00
- Full day (3-6 hrs) rental pp € 40.00
Snorkel Locations: Coves, Beaches & Inlets
Whether you choose to go on a guided tour or snorkel independantly, there are plenty of lovely rocky beaches and inlets to enter the water safel. Although sandy beached might appeal to the geneal public, for close up encounters with marine life, the rocky walls and bottoms are much more interesting to a snorkeller as these provide the habitats of small fish, plant life and different colours and textures. Lough Hyne for instance is one such place with a history of marine research for decades by world-renowned biologists. Other locations nearby include Trafraska, Tranabo, Tragumna and Murphy's Cove all facing south or southwest.
Depending on the wind direction and strength it may be necessary to select a location that faces north and these would involve a slightly longer car journey (of an hour)
to Dunmannus Bay west of Durrus.
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See pictures in our photo gallery (album "snorkelling tours").