Even though we may give out about the weather in Ireland a lot, thanks to our mild climate and stunning landscapes, Ireland’s outdoors are always in season. Coupled with the fact that we are trying to play our part with social distancing at the moment and seek outdoor adventure we tried out some of Cork’s best loved outdoor activities for families over the last few weeks. As a Cork native, I am asked very regularly what are my top favourite family activities or things to do in Cork and I and delighted to say they are all outdoors. Also, these activities would make great communion and birthday party alternatives or even gift ideas!
Zipit is a fantastic outdoor adventure centre not far from Cork city where you can climb high into the treetops, swing into cargo nets, surf with a difference or try cycling over a treetop bridge before zipping down one of our many ziplines. As most of you will have learnt by now Tree Climbing is our national family pastime.
I have been meaning to try out Zipit for some time but I did not appreciate what was in store until I saw it for myself. Once harnessed, you are given a short instruction, followed by a practice circuit, then away you go, into the trees as you ascend higher with each circuit, secure in the knowledge that qualified instructors are around if you need them, to offer guidance, encouragement or get you back down to the ground. There are 5 circuits ranging from 1 – 20 metres high and you have 3 hours to complete the circuits or if you like you can do the first few circuits more than once. From beginners to adrenaline junkies, there are circuits for all abilities. The minimum age is 7 and this is a perfect family activity as many adults will enjoy discovering their inner child with this one.
It is quite an exhilarating and energetic activity both mentally and physically so three hours is plenty and in fact we called it a day just before our time was up as our crew were wrecked at this stage. However, they absolutely loved it and we will be going again in the next few months. Rain would not put me off this activity either as the tree canopy would provide some shelter and it is meant to be more fun in the rain as the zip wires move more freely.
Farran woods is home to many walking trails with beautiful views of Iniscarra lake, a children’s playground (just next to Zipit), deer enclosure and duck pond, so there is plenty to entertain everyone in the family and make a day of it with a picnic. It is the perfect destination for a kid’s birthday party and you could bring a picnic (ham sandwiches) or bag of treats each to eat at the playground after before heading on a walk around the duck pond. For the winter months Zipit opens on weekends only and pre-booking is essential so click here to find out more about Zipit in Farran Woods.
Cork Harbour Boat Hire offer the perfect solution to social distancing outdoor fun with their self-drive boat tours of Cork Harbour for families looking for fun things to do in Cork. There is one family unit in each boat and the tour guide is in his own boat leading the group around Spike Island, the old monastic settlement and prison which resides in the middle of Cork Harbour. The boats are really easy to drive and there was full training before we were let loose out on the water. We had great fun spotting all the activity on the harbour including Haulbowline (the Irish Naval base), the canons of spike Island, St.Colman’s Cathedral, and much more. We were told some days you may spot cruise liners or ships along the route.
The highlight of the trip was when the kids sat on Craig’s lap taking turns of steering the boat. They all loved it even the little one so much so that we have treated our granddad to a trip for his birthday in the next few weeks. It would make the perfect birthday present for children or adults. There is a max of 5 per boat with no more than 4 adults and the one hour tour costs €50 in total. Click here for more information on Cork Harbour Boat Hire.
My final activity probably deserves a blog post all on its own as there is so much to do here and offers great family quality time when it comes to things to do in Cork. Ballyhass lakes is a 40 acre site and home to 20 activities across land, water and height. However, for quality family time I would recommend the adventure day pass or aqua park as it is fantastic value for money and an unforgettable family day out for all the family.
Ballyhass lakes is not only home to Ireland’s largest cable wakeboard facility but it also offers a large yet manageable inflatable waterpark for all ages. What makes this waterpark unique to any other one we have visited is that the water was crystal clear with water temperature a perfect level being an inland lake. The temperature has been known to hit 15 degrees. While the inflatable park is large, it is well laid out so it is easy to get around and you are not really queuing for anything.
The Adventure Day Pass is only €30 per person or €100 for four and with this you can enjoy a land, water and height activity. You would want to leave a day for this and leave some time in your day to have lunch and a rest. For lunch you can bring a picnic or there is a hot food option on site with chips and burgers etc.
We choose to do the aqua park and the zip wire which I would highly recommend. The zip wire goes over land and water and there are two lanes one of which takes you through the tree tops before coming out over the water. The team here are very encouraging and patient with anyone who is nervous but I must say I did not see one child holding back…..(only a few adults…..)
We ended our day with Archery but at this stage we were starting to tire so if you feel that three activities may be enough you could do tow activities for €25 per person or just the aqua park for €15. There was no extra charge for wetsuits which I thought was very fair and the social distancing measures were really impressive even though we were outdoors. Entry to the inflatables were staggered and the numbers on these reduced.
I must say it would make the perfect day out for small communions or birthday parties and best of all it is outdoors. We adored our day here and will be regular visitors as we all had such a laugh and it was a great way to take a break from every day life! For more information on Ballyhass lakes Click Here!