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The Short Version: For over 25 years, Atlantic Sea Kayaking has tempted people to discover their inner mariner and explore the shores of West Cork, Ireland. The tour company organizes kayak trips, lessons, and rentals that can transport people to a romantic setting on the open water. Atlantic Sea Kayaking can offer fun date activities for outdoorsy couples who want to get away from it all.
Jim and Maria Kennedy launched their kayaking business in 1995 to open people up to new experiences on the water. Atlantic Sea Kayaking has enabled the couple to share their passion for kayaking and the great outdoors with people visiting Ireland’s western coast.
“We’ve been doing this a long time,” Maria said. “We were one of the first in Ireland to do these types of kayaking trips.”
Jim and Maria run Atlantic Sea Kayaking in West Cork, Ireland, which has a dramatic coastline that’s rich with marine life. Jim started his career by competing as an international racing kayaker, but as an experienced kayaking guide he knows how to slow down the pace and make sure people of all skill levels feel comfortable and relaxed.
Atlantic Sea Kayaking is a family-run operation that leads morning trips and nighttime excursions through the noteworthy waterways of West Cork.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the team has had to suspend its tours temporarily and is currently in a holding pattern waiting for restrictions to lift. On the bright side, Atlantic Sea Kayaking currently offers gift vouchers on the website, so this holiday season couples, families, and friends can give themselves something to look forward to in 2021.
If you’re planning a romantic getaway in Ireland, you can rely on Atlantic Sea Kayaking to propel you into a dating adventure like no other. You don’t need any prior kayaking experience to join a tour and enjoy yourself on the tranquil waters of the Atlantic.
Atlantic Sea Kayaking maintains daytime and nighttime tours that make kayaking accessible to all types of people. It does not require anything more than average fitness to enjoy the company’s guided excursions and lessons. Maria said the guides maintain a gentle and easy pace that has proven comfortable for people as young as 8 and as old as 80.
The beginner-friendly kayaking tours range from two hours to four hours long and include basic instructions, safety tips, and expert guides who have a thorough knowledge of the local waterways. The half-day safaris are famous for giving participants an up-close look at marine wildlife, though such encounters are not guaranteed.
“Our guides are all good storytellers,” Maria said. “They’re well-versed in marine life and history, so they can keep people entertained.”
Atlantic Sea Kayaking has single and double kayaks available for rent. Double sea kayaks can foster good teamwork and bring couples closer together as they work toward a common destination.
Atlantic Sea Kayaking has made waves with its nighttime tours, which begin just before sunset and take people onto the water under starry skies. Maria said the tour started as a full moon trip, but it became so popular they expanded to offer a moonlight or starlight kayaking experience every week.
The guides can point out bioluminescent algae or star constellations along the way, and they encourage people to appreciate the beauty and peacefulness of the moment.
Taking a nighttime kayaking tour is a unique date activity that couples won’t soon forget, especially if it happens to be a full moon. Maria said the team has seen many proposals and anniversary celebrations with its tours, and some of its regulars return year after year to enjoy a kayaking date at their favorite spots in West Cork.
“We’ve gotten a reputation for being different and funky,” Maria told us. “Everything we did was avant-garde, and we were the first nighttime tour in the area. That made our name as a premier kayaking company around the world.”
In a typical year, about half of Atlantic Sea Kayaking’s business comes from international travelers from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe. Of course, 2020 was far from typical. The coronavirus pandemic led to an almost complete shutdown in international travel. Fortunately, locals have picked up the slack and continued to show their support for West Cork’s premier family-run kayaking company.
Maria said Atlantic Sea Kayaking opened for about three months in the summer of 2020 and had a full schedule thanks entirely to local patronage.
“I think people really needed to be in the outdoors, and once they were allowed to do so, they came out looking for an experience,” she said. “There’s a huge increase in demand for day trips among the Irish population.”
Many TripAdvisor reviews praised the Atlantic Sea Kayaking team’s adherence to social distancing guidelines throughout the experience. Its tours offered a respite from everyday cares and allowed formerly homebound couples to go on a fun date and get in touch with nature.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Maria and Jim have been focused on keeping their 14-person team ready to host kayaking tours — with new safety measures implemented — as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Maria said the team has had to move fast to adjust to the fast-changing environment. Atlantic Sea Kayaking had just three days’ notice that regulations would lift enough for them to open in late June, and now they expect to be closed for the rest of 2020.
“We’re all about consolidating and making sure our systems work, so we’re ready to go whenever the regulations allow us to go,” Maria explained. “Our plan is to keep going when we can, to stop if we have to, and be ready to go again. That’s all we can do for now.”
Atlantic Sea Kayaking is situated in a rural area with a jagged coastline. West Cork has become a popular tourist destination in Ireland because it has a lot of scenic views to share with nature lovers. People come from all over the world to explore West Cork’s harbors and beaches, and they trust Atlantic Sea Kayaking’s guides to show them the sights.
For over 25 years, Atlantic Sea Kayaking has weathered many storms, and the Kennedy family is prepared to wait out the coronavirus pandemic too. Once restrictions are lifted, couples can venture out of the house and onto the water with the help of this kayak tour company.
Whether it’s leading a marine life safari or a moonlight excursion, Atlantic Sea Kayaking invites people to witness the beauty of West-Cork’s coastline from the comfort of a single or double sea kayak.
“We’re still as passionate as always about what we do,” Maria said. “It’s way more than just a job. We create close connections through the tours. Some people have taken lots of tours with us over the years and become our friends for life.”