Zigzagging gently from dreamy Bantry Bay through Skibbereen and on to Kinsale, the Haven Coast is perfectly named. Hedgerows thick with fuschia and monbretia border lush gardens; endless inlets and Blue Flag beaches promise long days spent relaxing in the salty air.

There’s something restorative about the temperate Gulf Stream climate, the peaceful vibe and creative scene, the wonderful artisan food, arts and festivals. And echoing all along this coast is its history: ancient sites, coastal forts and – out on the horizon – ‘Ireland’s tear drop’, the Fastnet Rock.

They say that to truly know Kinsale you must see it from the sea. A morning spent aboard the Spirit of Kinsale, cruising through the harbour to Charles Fort and the edge of the wild Atlantic, is like no other. This seaside town has worn many hats throughout Ireland's history: Viking trading post, wine port, site of a 17th century siege. As the boat circles the mouth of the harbour, you'll spy the wind-whipped lighthouse on the Old Head of Kinsale; and beyond, the resting place of the liner Lusitania, sunk one dark day in 1915.