Just off Ireland’s western coast, the Aran Islands sit, like a gateway, between the Irish mainland and the Atlantic Ocean. The largest of these islands is Inishmore. This tiny, 31 square kilometer (12 square mile) island is surrounded by the magnificent blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean and makes the ideal summer vacation destination if you enjoy activities like diving, hiking, and cycling.
I chose to combine a visit to Inishmore with getting back in the water using the PADI Reactivate program for two reasons.
1. An Adventure in the Atlantic
For any scuba diver, a dive or two in the Atlantic Ocean is a fantastic feat to achieve. The Atlantic’s deep blue waters are home to a menagerie of underwater life, including numerous species of coral, jellyfish, sharks, seals and other creatures beyond your imagination. When I did my research about the dive sites in Inishmore, one thing I knew for certain was that I would likely encounter jellyfish up close — this wish definitely came true! From baby ones to eye-catching fluorescent ones, the jellyfish were all a treat to watch. In fact, we liked them so much that we paused for a few moments to appreciate the creatures in all their glory!
2. Slow & Solo Island Travel
If you are not familiar with the concept of slow travel, here is the gist of it (be ready to incorporate it into your next vacation!). Slow travel is a concept whereby you spend an extended period, usually a day/week or more, in a single place. This allows you to spend more time soaking in meaningful experiences. This could include getting into nature, doing mundane things, such as picking up a coffee to-go or even making connections with locals and learning about the place through them. Ultimately, it’s about immersing yourself in where you are instead of just ticking things off a list. In Inishmore, you will find a handful of cafes/pubs, a few camping units and B&Bs, a couple of cycle hire shops, and one supermarket… that’s it! You definitely don’t even need a map to navigate around this tiny island.
The island has a not-to-be-missed cycling trail with the Atlantic on one side and lush green pastures on the other. My favorite playlist, an indulgent snack, a couple of pitstops to capture the landscape, a 35-minute cycle ride and an easy, 15-minute hike later, I was at the top of Don Anghosa. Plus, I was the only one up there.
Despite the island being so scarcely populated, I have rarely felt safer being alone. And if not for the infamous winds of Ireland (don’t be fooled by the sun and the long summer days), I would have spent more hours there, meeting the few people who walked in once a while, listening to rough waters, or just doing nothing for a change.
Finally, and rather predictably, spending a few hours diving on this island gives you a chance to bond with the amazing local dive community. Many of the people at the dive shop have been living as locals and working on the edge of the ocean for decades. Although I spent a little more that 24 hours on this island, doing only a few things I love, those hours felt longer than those of a regular day.
After all, everyone gets only 24 hours a day — how do you want to use yours when you’re on holiday?
Author Biography – Poorvaja Arun Kumar
This article was written by guest blogger Poorvaja Arun Kumar, PADI Advanced Open Water Diver and businesswoman.
Poorvaja works in the Climate and Sustainability space in India and is set to pursue her MBA at Oxford University later this year. Prior to this, she has had experience in co-founding a social impact venture during her college days that has gone on to win recognition on international platforms. After discovering her love for scuba diving, she got herself certified as a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver in India. She now wants to explore wreck dive sites across the world and someday get herself certified as a wreck diver.