On the evening before my departure, I asked Graham to recommend the most scenic route that I can take on my way to Maharees. “Timur – he said, – you’ll enjoy any road you take.” However, he still suggested first go to Killarney and to stop at Ladies View – famous tourist attraction named after queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting. After that, I should drive to Dingle and from there to take the “Conor Pass” to Castlegregory, via the highest mountain passage in Ireland. That sounded like a great plan and in the morning of 23ed I said goodbye to Anne and Graham and set my course due northwest, towards Dingle Peninsula, the home of the Waterworld.
Needless to say that Graham was right, I enjoyed every minute of driving through picturesque Ireland’s countryside’s. I lost counts how many times I stopped and took another shot of the charming scene. Before this trip, I never used my camera on the surface as much as I do underwater. And that’s why my trip from Oceanaddicts to Waterworld instead of two-and-a-half, maybe 3 hours top took at least 5 hours to complete.
On my way to Castlegregory
I missed Ladies View, but reached successfully the Inch Beach and I had there a quick lunch at Sammys Restaurant.
Sammys Bar. Inch Beach
Actually, on my way to Castlegregory I missed the Conor Pass too. But I had a chance to drive over it the day before my departure. I skipped lunch at the hotel, bought some food, drove up to the parking lot located in the middle of the Conor Pass and enjoyed fresh salami, cheese, bread and cold beer while observing breathtaking panorama.
The dive center is a part of the Harbour House and Leisure Center, which is family operated, medium size B&B. The motel has 16 rooms, indoor swimming pool, sauna, bar and restaurant.
Harbour House and Leisure Center
The motel is surrounded by water on three sides and I’ve got the bay facing room. Sandra, the motel manager with whom I spoke before I arrived in Ireland, greeted me with welcoming smile and introduced to me Danny O’Reilly, my dive guide for the next couple of days.
The next morning, after breakfast, we loaded our gears into the van and walked, about 2minutes, to the boat dock. 15 minutes later captain Sean brought us at our first dive spot – the Gurrig Island.
The very first thing that I noticed, slowly descending to the bottom, is how clear the water was. I would not exaggerate if I stated that visibility was more than 60 feet. And once again I regretted leaving wide-angle port at home. If I could use my 17-40 diving around Kinsale, then here it would be a shame not to take an advantage of the great visibility, strong ambient light and beautiful rocky topography.
Light bulb sea squirt (Clavelina lepadiformis)
All types of marine life covered walls of water-worn passages. Large blades of brown kelp, just like weathervanes, were turning according to the repetitively changing directions of a mild surge. That presented a slight challenge to take a good shot, especially of several nudibranchs that were crawling on surfaces of kelps.
During our third dive at Letter Box, voted as one of the top dive sites in the world, Danny found two Janolus cristatus inside of the large, swim through hole.
At Overhang dive-site, I took lots of pictures of jewel anemones again. Inside and in the middle of the cave, among a pile of rocks, Danny pointed to me a few Tompot blennies. If normally I could only see them inside of narrow openings, then here, thanks to the shadowed environment, they were not hiding and I could finally to see their beautiful body patterns from the large, crowned head to the narrowing, curly tail.
Jewel anemone (Corynactis viridis)
I also saw a lot of velvet and spiny spider crabs, white and orange Dead men’s fingers, sea spiders, segmented and coral worms, blue-rayed limpets, light-bulb sea squirts, sea cucumbers and much, much more.
Water temperature fluctuated between 58F and 61F.
I had only 2 days to dive at Dingle peninsula, which is way too short to paint a half-decent picture of what one can see diving Maharees islands. But it was just enough to understand that return trip is definitely in order. Plus I would like again to experience a warm hospitality of my new dive buddies at Waterworld. Thank you, guys, and especially to Danny for making my brief, but memorable vacation a total success. Safe diving and new discoveries to all.