Achill Island, in County Mayo, is Ireland’s largest island. The dramatic landscapes, stunning seascapes and rich history provide visitors with a wide range of scenic attractions, beauty spots and activities. Achill Island is easily accessible by a road bride from the beautiful Currane peninsula. The natural beauty and rich culture has provided inspiration for artists and writers for many years. Join Celtic Tours on the breathtaking Atlantic Drive along the coast on our West of Ireland tour.
Achill offers some of the best quality beaches in Ireland. These include the strand at Keem Bay, a beautiful, secluded valley located at the western tip of Achill Island. Keem Bay is a perfect horseshoe bay containing a popular Blue Flag beach at the head of a valley between the cliffs of Benmore to the west and Croaghaun mountain on the east.
The Atlantic Drive comprises over 40km of breathtaking coastal scenery that is ideal for touring in a car, and even better by bicycle!
The Tower at Kildavnet, the remains of a 16th century Irish tower house that was used by the legendary pirate queen Granuaile (Grace O’Malley).
The Deserted Village at Slievemore is a haunting reminder of times past. Comprising some 80 stone cottages located at the foot of the majestic Slievemore mountain, the Deserted Village offers a fascinating insight into life on Achill in former centuries.
With its Atlantic location, five Blue Flag beaches and breathtaking mountain landscape, Achill provides an unrivalled arena for outdoor activities and water-sports of all types. Water-sports available on Achill Island include surfing, windsurfing, canoeing & kayaking.
Achill, with its magnificent landscape and ever-changing light, its remote location and unique local culture, provides a fantastic setting for the creative arts. Achill’s artistic heritage is both celebrated and extended by Scoil Acla, a summer school that teaches traditional Irish music and culture.
Visit the Tower of London, the ancient stones reverberate with dark secrets, priceless jewels glint in fortified vaults and ravens strut the grounds. Despite a grim reputation as a place of torture and death, this powerful and enduring fortress has been enjoyed as a royal palace, served as an armory and for a number of years even housed a zoo!
In the early 1080s, William the Conqueror began to build a massive stone tower at the centre of his London fortress. Nothing like it had ever been seen before. Immense, the Tower of London dominated the skyline for miles around. The Tower was protected by Roman walls on two sides, ditches to the north and west up to 25 ft wide and 11 ft deep and an earthwork topped by a wooden palisade. Although many later kings and queens stayed at the Tower, it was never intended as the main royal residence nor was it meant as the first line of defense against invading armies. The Tower’s primary function was as a fortress-stronghold, a role that remained unchanged right up until the late 19th century.
The Tower of London holds some of the most remarkable stories from across the centuries. Gaze up at the massive White Tower, tiptoe through a kings’ medieval bedchamber and marvel at the priceless Crown Jewels. The famous Yeoman Warders have bloody tales to tell; stand where heads rolled and prisoners wept. The Tower held many famous prisoners, from the highest levels of society; some in astonishing comfort and others less so… Visit the places of their confinement and read the graffiti left by prisoners from over 500 years ago.
There are many spas in Ireland to choose from, destination spas, specialized retreats and hotel spas. At Irish spas not only are you pampered but you get stunning scenery wherever you look. Bliss… Here is a list of some of the spas in Ireland to get you started in planning your Irish Spa Vacation.
Monart is located in Wexford in over one hundred acres of private woodland and their total focus is on helping guests to rest, rejuvenate and transform, through a combination of its magical private location, luxurious facilities, excellent dining and worldclass spa facilities and treatment.
A spa break at Temple is a fully inclusive experience. As our guest, you will enjoy gourmet spa cuisine, unlimited use of the vitality suite and a complimentary programme of daily mind and body activities. Available Treatments Include: Indian Head Massage, ISHI ChocoTherapy and VinoTherapy.
Delphi Mountain Resort
A truly unique place where you can completely escape, unwind, contemplate and relax. Delphi Mountain Resort is set within 400 acres of prime Connemara forest, just a stones throw from the picturesque Cross beach, one of the world’s finest surf beaches and against the majestic Mweelrea mountain range.
Combining the luxury of Dromoland Castle and located within the castle walls, enjoy the experience of the latest natural beauty and holistic therapies. Products include The Anne Semonin treatment range and the Irish product range Voya. As a haven for pure relaxation the design reflects an air of tranquility and serenity with light wood furniture, shades of beige, stone floors, steel plated accessories and a feature water wall.
Oriental philosophy regards beauty as a holistic concept embracing both the inner and outer self. The ritual applications of Asia’s Botanical heritage provides the means to nurture, relax, empty the mind and soothe the soul.
A deluxe country manor house set, in landscaped grounds with panoramic views overlooking the River Barrow. Dine in the Gallery Restaurant or relax in the Library Bar. All rooms elegantly furnished. Luxurious health club and spa with twenty metre pool, fully equipped gym, kiddies pool and hydrotherapy grotto.
Ultimate pampering. Northern Ireland’s premier luxury day spa. Awarded a 5 star rating by the UK and Ireland association ‘Good Salon Guide’. Full range of indulgent treatments for both men and women. Seaweed baths, chocolate facials, body massage, aromatherapy, rasul steam room, chillout room and luxury products.
Soak Seaweed baths is situated in the beautiful County Down seaside town of Newcastle on the extremely pretty South Promenade. SOAK offers hot saltwater seaweed baths, individual steam cabinets as well as jet spa showering.
Kangaroo Island: a place of pristine beauty, amazing wildlife, rich history and gastronomic adventures. When visiting Australia, Kangaroo Island is well worth a visit. Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third largest island after Tasmania and Melville’s Island and is 70 miles southwest of Adelaide at the entrance of Gulf St. Vincent. Kangaroo Island is a touring choice on a number of Celtic Tours South Pacific Vacations including our new 16 Day DownUnder Explorer.
Kangaroo Island was once a part of mainland Australia, but was separated by a rise in sea level over 9,000 years ago. Stone tools found suggest that Aboriginal people occupied Kangaroo Island at least 11,000 years ago, but disappeared in 200 BC.
Kangaroo Island, with its lush, fertile lands, produces some of Australia’s finest gourmet foods. Gastronomic adventurers will be amazed for the likes of freshly caught King George Whiting, sheep’s cheese, marron, an exciting range of varietal wines and a unique variety of honey. In fact, Kangaroo Island is famous for its honey and for being the oldest bee sanctuary in the world. Ligurian honey bees were brought here from Italy. The bees flourished and are the only surviving Ligurian honey bees after disease killed all Ligurian honey bees in Italy.
Native bushland, pristine beaches, dense forest, soaring cliffs and towering sand dunes make up some of the intense natural beauty of Kangaroo Island. The wildlife on Kangaroo Island will astound you: sea lions basking on white beaches, koalas dozing in lofty eucalypts, pelicans soaring over shimmering lagoons.
If all that is not enough, take in the rich history, the thriving arts community or tour its spectacular lighthouses. It is not hard to see why Kangaroo Island is one of South Australia’s most popular tourist attractions, with over 140,000 visitors each year.
As if straight from the pages of a fairytale, the Lost Gardens of Heligan lay in literal slumber for almost 75 years. A motto etched into the limestone walls in barely legible pencil still reads “Don’t come here to sleep or slumber”.
The gardens were originally created by members of the Cornish Tremayne family over a period from the mid-18th century to the 20th century and still form part of the Tremayne family Heligan estate. The gardens were neglected after the first world war, after the childless death of Jack Tremayne.
The Heligan estate came under the ownership of a trust to the benefit of several members of the extended Tremayne family. One of these, John Willis, lived in the area and was responsible for introducing record producer Tim Smit to the gardens. He and a group of fellow enthusiasts decided to restore the garden to its former glory, and eventually leased them from the Tremayne family. Discovered amongst brambles and ivy, the enthusiasts restored the gardens to their present day glory. Heligan offers 200 acres of Victorian Productive Gardens, romantic Pleasure Grounds, lush sub-tropical Jungle and more to explore.
The Jungle sits in a steep-sided valley, creating a microclimate at least five degrees warmer than the Northern Gardens. Here the exotic palette of plants brought back from across the world, both by the intrepid Victorian Plant Hunters and more recent collectors, flourish before your eyes.
The Giant’s Head, Mudmaid and Grey Lady wait to be discovered along Woodland Walk. This sheltered path comes to life as these woodland sculptures reveal themselves, emerging silently from the beautiful natural landscape.
Throughout the gardens and estate, which are actively managed to encourage wildlife populations, you may observe many fascinating creatures, from birds, insects and amphibians to moths, bats and even the famous barn owls.
Discover the Lost Gardens of Heligan on your Celtic Tours Corners of Cornwall tour of England.
Gushing waters, steaming vents, boiling mud pools, spectacular geysers and traditional Maori culture breathes at the Te Puia Cultural Centre in New Zealand, a place of powerful energies and Maori beauty.
The East Polynesian ancestors of the Maori were hunters, fishers, and gardeners. After arriving in New Zealand, sometime before 1300AD, Maori had to rapidly adapt their material culture and agricultural practices to suit the climate of their new land – cold and harsh in comparison to tropical island Polynesia. Over several centuries in isolation, the Māori developed a distinct society featuring a rich mythology, a separate language, distinctive crafts and performing arts, and a tribal society with a prominent warrior culture. The Maori culture forms a distinctive part of New Zealand culture and vice versa.
In the Maori language the word maori means “normal” or “natural”. In legends and oral traditions, the word distinguished ordinary mortal human beings from deities and spirits. Māori people often use the term tangata whenua (literally, “people of the land”) to describe themselves in a way that emphasises their relationship with a particular area of land.
Weaving, carving and performing arts are among the Maori art forms. Maori carving and weaving taught at the Te Puia Culturual Centre in carry on the ancient traditions. In some respects, carving is the written record of the Maori people who traditionaly knew nothing of writing. Carvings preserve much of the history and culture of Māori.
Maori carvings often contain spirals and sea shells. Maori spirals are almost always double, though single spirals are occasionally seen carved on stone objects. There is a theory that the spiral has evolved from interlocking manaia, a mythological bird-headed creature. It is sometimes assumed that every cut in a piece of Maori carving must have a meaning, but in fact probably much of it is purely decorative. It is important to note that the figures in Maori carving, with very rare exceptions, are not religious, but secular. They do not represent idols, but rather renowned ancestors of the tribe. Maori wood carving was often high-lighted with red ochre as a symbolic reference to the birth of the Earth.
Maori performance art, kappa haka, is one the most entertaining forms of storytelling. Posture dance, song and rhythmic movements of the poi (a light ball on a string), action songs and traditional chants tell the ancient and recent history and stories of the Maori people.
Learn more about the Maori people on your Celtic Tours 21 Day Royal Escorted tour of New Zealand and Australia!