West Cork on the Wild Atlantic Way

On the Golden Spur of this 2500 km route along Ireland's Atlantic coastline where the land merges into the sea Baltimore features Dun an Oir (castle of gold), Dun na Sead (castle of Jewels), Cailin Our (Golden Girl ferry), Silver Strand on Sherkin island and its internationally famous golden sunsets. Baltimore was an important pirate centre during the seventeenth century Golden Age of piracy and still harbours many sunken wrecks and stories of hidden treasure.

Go and experience the wild, unspoilt, raw beauty of rugged coastlines, cliffs , seascapes, beaches, food, music, festivals, maritime history and adventure.  Aquaventures' team and tourism colleagues in the village offer island visits, sailing, boat trips to the Fastnet, diving, snorkelling, kayaking, walking, horse & pony riding, angling, whale-watching, garden and castle visits. 

Lough Hyne and Sea beyond
cape clear
seal behind young snorkellers
lot's wife beacon baltimore
Baltimore arial shot

Go Wild and get Wet

“We discovered the thrill of flying through the rapids, leaving us breathless with excitement to do it again and again.” - comments by Mark Webber and his teenage children on holiday in Baltimore, West Cork.

Experience uniquely rich and colourful flora and fauna in a magical sub-aqua world.  You can snorkel in Europe’s oldest marine nature reserve – there is a tidal gap between Lough Hyne and the sea - wearing a warm diving suit.

Aquaventures specialises in snorkel rental and diving charter from a superbly-run centre in Baltimore on the Wild Atlantic Way, renowned for its spectacular coastline, colourful reefs and wrecks. Let us submerge you in an amazing aqua-venture!

Things to do

Baltimore is a great destination for a relaxing weekend, an action packed activity week or a base

for cruising and exploring Roaringwater Bay and the Islands of Cape Clear, Heir and Sherkin nearby with regular ferry services from Baltimore harbour.

The Wild Atlantic Way 

The longest defined coastal touring route in the world - 2500 km of coastline from West Cork to Donegal where the land and sea merge.  Baltimore is the Wild Atlantic Way’s golden spur with Dún an Óir (castle of gold), Dún na Séad ( castle of jewels), the Cailín Óir (or golden girl - a ferry boat), not to mention pirate treasures and sunken wrecks. Go and experience the wild, unspoilt, raw beauty of rugged coastlines, cliffs , seascapes, beaches, food, music, festivals, maritime history and adventure.  We offer island visits, sailing, boat trips to the Fastnet, diving, snorkelling, kayaking, walking, horse & pony riding, angling, whale-watching, garden and castle visits. 

Why not start your adventure in Baltimore & the Islands and let us take your breath away!

Dun na Oir cape clear
Knockomagh Wood lough hyne

Walking

There are lovely walks on either the mainland or the islands but do check with private landowners for permission or stay on the main roads. Europe's oldest Nature Reserve "Lough Hyne" is great for swimming, snorkelling, kayaking or walking (divers require a permit) and the walk up Knockomagh Hill is well worth the climb to gain panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean (see YouTube video clip below). There's a walking leaflet available for you to download with 3 looped marked walks in and around the village which include the Hill Loop (lovely views over the harbour and islands), Coney Island via the Cove stoney beach (at the far western side of Coney Island you may find the black graves - sailors who drowned in the area many many years ago, and as their religion was suspected to be non-catholic they were burried clsoe to the shore overlooking the harbour entrance) and finally the Beacon Walk up to Lots Wife. All three walks start from the Ferry Pier and are connected to one another if you wanted to combine all 3 which is then just over 6 km.

Baltimore Heritage Trail

The Baltimore Tidy Towns have commissioned a Heritage Trail brochure and plaques throughout the village and to accompany this, there's a quiz you might like to do whilst walking the trail, particularly if you're with a small group and split into in teams. Please note that the questions are not in any particular order so you might want to read through these first before setting off on your walk. For the answers to the quiz email us.

the glebe amphitheatre

Life Music

 Baltimore's traditional Irish music festival organised by Declan McCarthy is the annual " Fiddle Fair" in May. This four day program of gigs, master-classes, workshops and well known bands playing in a number of locations over 4 days brings people from all over the world together. In addition there is a local trad group who play regularly in Casey's on Monday evenings, and year-round Casey's also have music on Saturdays and in the summer twice a week with different musicians. The Glebe Gardens & Café regularly has music sessions and concerts in the open-air amphitheater as well as drama performances and The Waterfront Bar also hosts bands mostly at weekends. The local choir features regularly at local events. Across the water, the Jolly Roger on Sherkin Island attracts well known bands and musicians and sessions here often go on until the small hours of the night...... Check the Baltimore website for up to date information.

alfresco dining baltimore

Eating Out

Baltimore has a great choice of restaurants including gourmet dining, fish platters or steak and roasts, family restaurants with pizza & grill or the bars and pubs for lunch and evening meals. Most are within walking distance of Aquaventures Centre and The Stone House B&B, some are on the islands of Cape Clear or Sherkin which involve ferry trips from the harbour. If you wish us to make a recommendation and/or reservation on your behalf, please give us a call.

Activities

50 Things to Do - For non-diving family & friends there's a range of other activities and places to visit in and around Baltimore (download the Explore Baltimore brochure for all contact details and listing). These include kayaking, snorkelling, powerboating, boat-rides, sailing, whale & dolphin trips, angling, gardens to visit, castle, heritage centre, beaches, walks, cycling including bicycle hire, island trips, quad-biking, swimming pool & gym etc. For card-sharks there's regular get togethers for either playing 25 (Fridays) or bridge classes (Mondays). Check it out or let us arrange something for you beforehand.

baltimore swimming pool

The Wild Atlantic Pool & Fitness Centre - By the Community, For the Community

The Wild Atlantic Pool & Fitness Centre - By the Community, For the CommunityThe Wild Atlantic Pool & Fitness Centre located opposite the Stone House B&B and Aquaventures Dive Centre has a 16.5m Swimming Pool, Sauna, Steam Room, Jacuzzi and Gymnasium for fun, activities, aqua aerobic classes, swim improvers lessons, circuit training, relax or train hard and improve your fitness. Please note that access to the gym is restricted to over 17s and only during public opening hours. In the pool swim hats must be worn.

Places to Visit

Baltimore is home to a 13th century Norman castle called Dun na Sead which is open to the public daily from May to September. It fell into a ruined state in the middle of the 17th century, until recent works, which began in 1997 and continued until 2005 and the castle is once again occupied by an O'Driscoll / McCarthy descendant. It is the venue for clan gatherings, fiddle fair recitals and various talks and lectures.

For garden lovers, there Glebe Gardens & Cafe at the entrance to the village, 5 acres of organic garden running down to the sea. The practical yet pretty Potager contrasts with the slightly more formal Flower Garden, the boundary between the two being the quirky Waved Hedge. The natural abundance of the Meadow is reached via the curving grace of the Harold-Barry Walk which passes behind the Tunnels and the Henhouse. And there is lots more for you to explore. Another great place for garden lovers is Inish Beg Estate, just 3 km from Baltimore on the edge of the River Ilen. This estate boasts beautiful woodlands, parkland, farmland, gardens and foreshore and are part of the West Cork Garden Trail and listed in a book about the best 100 gardens of Ireland. For chilren there is a pirate trail in the woods.

A short drive to Skibbereen is well worthwhile in order to visit both the West Cork Arts Centre and Skibbereen Heritage CentreThe latter is a display about the Famine (the tragic period in the 1840s that is known in Irish History as the Great Hunger). Skibbereen was one of the worst affected areas, and the events of the era are depicted using local characters and events. They also have an interactive Lough Hyne Visitor Centre which explains the unique nature of this salt water marine lake, Ireland’s first Marine Nature Reserve. Other features include an archaeology trail of Skibbereen, the 1901 Census and information on Genealogy.

dun na sead castle baltimore
lot's wife beacon baltimore

Local Shopping

although Baltimore is a small village, you'll still be able to purchase your stamps, postcards, local guide books, newspapers and small groceries in the Gala shop, more commonly referred to as "Cotters" on the Square. There's also an Island Craft Shop and Yellow Door Gallery which sells genuine local art & craft and Ballymacrown Gallery (summer season only). And of course Aquaventures has a shop for diving and snorkelling equipment plus related books, DVDs, clothing etc. Only 2 miles from the village there's "Ballymacrown Cottage Gallery" by local artist Anne Marie McEninerney. Next door to the Gallery is the Rose Perfume & Gardens. On Saturday mornings year round there's a farmers market outside Aldi's store in Skibbereen.

baltimore square
silver strand sherkin island

Beaches & Island Visits

Baltimore has a sandy beach at low tide in "The Cove" east facing and low water spring tides at the inner harbour itself, and a rocky beach adjacent to the RNLI Lifeboat Station, both just a few minutes walk from the dive centre and B&B. There's another rocky beach at Tramadroum, off the Beacon Road, facing west towards Sherkin. Beautiful clean white sandy beaches, great for a day out, are on either Sherkin Island or Heir (Hare) island which can be reached by ferry (10 mins to Sherkin or 20 mins to Heir).

These are great for a day trip by ferry, which leave at regular intervals from the inner harbour of Baltimore. For further information please use the links shown here:

Sherkin Island 

Cape Clear 

Heir Island 

Alternatively, board the "MV Mystic Waters" for a 2-hour cruise through Roaringwater Bay - whilst enjoying a hot cuppa from the on-board shop you'll hear live commentary as the boat cruises through the waters around the islands in this Special Area of Conservation (SAC). On alternate days there's a River Cruise on the Ilen. These trips are subject to minimum numbers and weather - therefore check details by email or phone 087 2638470.

Other Services

Baltimore has a range of accommodation providers, bars, ferries and shops / services and a tremendous international mix of people and talents. There's an art galleries, craft shop, groceries and newsagent, designer knitwear and the area is renowned for great food.

Festivals and other events that are hosted locally for up to date information visit www.baltimore.ie