Have you ever been tangled in seaweed while swimming in the ocean, only to think, “Gee, this would make for an excellent bath”?
Of course not. Don’t be weird.
But someone out there, SOMEONE, found a way to turn seaweed into the kind of spa experience that leaves you both incredibly confused, relaxed, and smooth and shiny.
The seaweed is steamed beforehand, but it retains its silky oils that moisturize the skin and hair. Yes, you can basically use this stuff as shampoo. It’s also good for easing the symptoms of rheumatism and arthritis. The bathwater turns an initially frightening shade of amber, which really is due to the iodine extracted from the seaweed.
These baths are typically a tradition from the West Coast of Ireland.
Kilcullen’s Seaweed Baths
My first seaweed bath experience was at Kilcullen’s, in County Sligo at the town of Enniscrone. This place has literally been open for 101 years, and is built like an Edwardian bathhouse.
We were given a tour of the facilities, while being explained the seaweed farming process. Basically a tractor scoops up the seaweed along the beach and brings it in for steaming at the bathhouse. Easy-peasy.
Anyway, the owner assumed Scott and I were a couple, so she placed us in a room with two baths. Fortunately, Scott and I had brought our bathing suits, otherwise our workplace relationship might have ended on an awkward note.
I moved from the bath, to the enclosed steam bath inside a cedar cabinet. Your head sticks out while the rest of your body is submerged, allowing your pores to open up and accept the oils of the seaweed.
The experience was much needed after about two weeks of straight driving…but I destroyed my bathing suit. And it was a Victoria Secret. I probably should have just gotten naked.
Voya Seaweed Baths
Wanting to relive the experience, I ended up at Voya Seaweed Baths in Strandhill, also in County Sligo. This spa was a great deal more modern, and seeing as how I had the room to myself, this time I got nekkid. Oh, and it was so lovely.
I washed my hair in the oil, wrapped myself in warm towels, sat in the sauna, and then bathed for an hour. Total. Heaven.
Once it was all over, I scooped out the seaweed and placed it in the bucket, as to prevent drain damage. When I emerged all bleary-eyed and oily from the baths, I met Julia in the changeroom and we chatted about our experience.
“Good thing you weren’t in my bath,” she said.
“I found a pretty big spider in my seaweed. You would’ve died.”
I would have. Alas, I survived, and earned myself the nickname of Seaweed Pubes.