The Lakes of Killarney are not to be missed, and seeing them by kayak gives you an fantastic view point. Our adventure lead us by Ross Castle and over Lough Leane, where we floated under stone arched bridges, and got up close to secluded islands.
Kayak the Lakes Of Killarney
This post is sponsored by Failte Ireland, TBEX, and tour operator Wild 'N' Happy. All opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe would be a good fit for my readers. This comes at no added cost to you!
Years ago, long before I became Mrs Major Hoff, I taught canoeing and kayaking at a summer camp in Maine. It feels like a lifetime ago. I discovered back then, that I really appreciate the viewpoint that a seat of a kayak can give you. There is something about slowly gliding across still serene waters that I simply adore. The Major and I have since drifted on waters in Oregon and Alaska and have wonderful memories of those adventures. I have kayaking on a bioluminescent bay on my bucket list for sure. When I saw that TBEX was offering a chance to kayak the Lakes of Killarney, I jumped at the chance.
Where are the Lakes of Killarney?
The Lakes of Killarney are located in the Killarney National Park. You can find it on the South West side of Ireland in County Kerry. The nearest town is Killarney. The views from the lakes are spectacular due to being surrounded by Macgilly Cuddy's Reeks - the highest mountain range in Ireland. The Lakes of Killarney are made up of 3 lakes.
- Lough Leane : The largest of the 3 lakes, it also goes the furthest North. You can find Ross Castle on it's shores.
- Muckross Lake : Also known as "Middle Lake" or Torc Lake. It is the deepest of the 3 lakes, and features an old arched bridge that is photo worthy called Brickeen Bridge
- Upper Lake : The smallest of the 3, it sort of sets off by itself.
Hopefully the map above will give you an idea of the locations of the Killarney Lakes as well as the path we took on our adventure.
After suiting up in our wetsuits (that are provided) & PFD's, we ventured down to a little peninsula area where we picked a partner and grabbed our tandem kayaks. My parter was another "Sara" so we were the "Sara-h Boat". Sarah blogs at the Wondering Rumpus and we had a fantastic time kayaking!
The water is very shallow just off the gravel road, and it was easy to get in and out of the kayaks. I left my shoes at the shore, but realized too late that it would rain and they would get wet anyways! OOPS! I should have left them in the tour van. No one fell in the water while our group kayaked, but the wetsuits were certainly needed because of the cold, wind and the rain! So thankful to have had them!
When we came around the bend, we got a front row seat to Ross Castle. I actually checked out the outside a bit before our kayaking experience and found it to be so fun!
The door of the entrance gives you a bit of view of Lough Leane and the Macgilly Cuddy's Reeks.
Cobblestone walls never get old to me. And I'm a sucker for "old doors", whether original or recreations.
This cutie was finishing up a ride on one of the boats! Several other bloggers did a boat tour that had them visit another island and go bike riding. That sounded like loads of fun too!
One of the more "wild" things we did was kayaking under this cobblestone arch bridge. Apparently the water was higher than usual. I will admit, it gave me pause for a minute. I'm extremely claustrophobic, and it brings back memories of the dreaded MRI machine and all those scans I endured while battling my brain issues. I had to take a really deep breath before going under this. BUT it's open on both ends- you can see the light at the end of the tunnel!
We ended up going back under the bridge on the way back and in the end, I'd have to say, it was really fun and adventurous. For me it left me with the reminder of enjoying tight squeezes in the past (caves in New Hampshire, anyone?). Or remembering crawling under the bed and hiding from my siblings when I was little. It was quite cathartic really, and it reminded me just how far I've come.
Our tour guides from Wild N' Happy were fabulous. We all got a basic lesson, and they were eager to help out anyone who was a newbie to kayaking. I've never been white water kayaking, most of the time I'm on very still lakes or streams. The thinner stream we took was a breeze, but kayaking Lough Leane in the elements was more of a work out. The wind was up, so there were times we were paddling against it. Since it was windy, the lake was rocky.
No one fell in (I think this is always everyone's #1 concern). We did have the wet suits. If it was a clear calm summer day I'm sure it would be a breeze. I'm not a super duper athlete, and our boat paddled through just fine. You might be a bit sore the next day. I simply blamed that on trying to squeeze my body into the before mentioned wetsuit!
Our tour was just over an hour. We toured next to the rocks, and some people even kayaked inside of them! Some of the rocks had caves kayaks could go through, and all had moss and lichens growing on them. The rain was a bit of a bummer, but merely because it hampered taking photos! Almost all my shots today are from my iPhone 6s+. I used a handy dandy pouch that floats so I didn't have to worry about it getting wet!
I was sad to see our kayaking come to an end, but I was happy to get a bit warmed up!
To finish off our day, we toured the Muckross Park Hotel and Spa which is such a lovely property! It is around the corner from the Lakes of Killarney, just south of the town of Killarney.
The spa smelled absolutely divine and the pool looked like it was straight out of a magazine. The rooms are just as stunning, and nicely equipped with the niceties you'd expect. We enjoyed a most fantastic lunch!
One of the things of things I was told was that the lamb in Ireland is a must try. It's so tender! The dessert was striking. I took a picture of my friend's since I have a small nut allergy. The hotel was so accommodating and gave me a mouthwatering gluten and nut free lemon creme brulee. The name of the drink is escaping me, but I remember that it contained Irish Mist and was simply divine!
Once we'd filled our bellies we set off our our next adventure, which involved hiking in Killarney National Park.
Planning your trip to the Lakes of Killarney? You might enjoy these posts of other sites not to be missed!