Originally posted: May 2009, updated March 2023


I had a wonderful—and surprising—spa treat on a cold, rainy day near Sligo, Ireland: a warm seaweed bath at Celtic Seaweed Baths (now Voya Seaweed Baths). In the past, I’ve had what American spas call “kelp baths” before, and they usually consist of a tub filled with water turned greenish from  dried kelp powder.

Strands of seaweed—freshly harvested from the Atlantic Ocean—turn your bathwater a rusty color, but the effects are great for the skin. Photo courtesy Voya Seaweed Baths

However, a seaweed bath in Ireland is a completely indigenous experience, which involves getting into a tub of warm water with three- to four-foot strands of fresh-harvested kelp right off the Atlantic coast. Bathing with olive-brown chunks of underwater plants is a cross between a mermaid experience and “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” No matter how you consider it, though, your skin and hair feel marvelously silky afterward.

My 50-minute treatment started with a 15-minute steam to open my pores. Then I gingerly climbed into the tub where the seaweed (Fucus serratus) was floating. The water and tub are extremely slippery from the seaweed, so I clung to the grip rails. Thankfully, there was a rubber, “no-skid” mat on the bottom of the tub.

Yes, that’s seaweed in the tub! It makes the water slippery, but it’s very relaxing. Photo courtesy Voya Spa

Once I’d  navigated the slippery tub, the experience of steeping in the rusty, tea-colored water and bobbing about with my seaweed felt divinely relaxing. I massaged my tired traveler’s feet, did a few stretches, and submerged my head a few times so that my hair benefited from the kelp treatment, which is rich in minerals and vitamins.

After about 30 minutes in the bath, I hoisted myself out (remember: slippery!), showered, and dried off. I felt as limp and drifty as, well, seaweed! My skin felt soft and supple all over, and I was considerably more relaxed and warmed as well (the weather was harsh: cold, wind-driven rain).

You can find Ireland’s only indigenous spa therapy at Voya Spa (formerly Celtic Seaweed Baths) in Strandhill, Co. Sligo. A single-person 50-minute bath costs  €35. Voya Spa also offers massages and other treatments.


Health Benefits of Seaweed Baths:

  • Relaxes the muscles
  • Infuses the skin with vital minerals (especially iodine) and antioxidants
  • Acts as a moisturizer by forming a protective, gel-like layer on the skin
  • Supports skin regeneration with some anti-aging properties
  • Detoxifies the body
  • Moisturizes hair and decreases static charge

Laurel Kallenbach, writer and editor

For information on visiting Ireland, browse Discover Ireland.

Fresh seaweed harvested right off the coast of County Sligo. Photo courtesy Voya Seaweed Baths

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