1. Kitesurfing, Dublin Bay, County Dublin
It’s not hard to explain the pull of kitesurfing in Dublin Bay – it’s both beautiful and breezy! Yes, enthusiasts of the fastest growing watersport in the world continue to dot the Dublin coastline where you can be on the water within minutes.
Some standout spots include the sand-dune beach at Bull Island and passing beneath the shadow of the iconic Poolbeg Chimneys opposite Howth peninsula. Dollymount Beach hosts the annual Battle for the Bay championship, so there’s never been a better time to catch the wind in Ireland.
2. Canoeing, Fermanagh Lakelands, County Fermanagh
You know, not all watersports are extreme. Dominated by Lough Erne but carved into islands, crumbling castle ruins and a Unesco Geopark, the Fermanagh Lakelands are breathtaking in the humblest sense of the word. Grab a paddle, hop in a canoe and explore 435 stress-melting miles of rivers, canals and lakes, detouring at Georgian mansions or centuries-old castles like Enniskillen, complete with turrets and rebel tales.
A water wonderland where getting lost is a good thing.
3. Coasteering, Dunseverick, County Antrim
Dive, run, swim, climb – coasteering is easily the most eclectic watersport out there right now.
It sees thrill-seekers scramble across coastal areas exploring nooks and crannies from both in and out of the water. Dunseverick near the Giant’s Causeway, an enigmatic Unesco World Heritage Site rooted in legend, is an ideal starting point. Distinct rock features, deep water and the towering ruins of a 5th Century castle once visited by St Patrick and later ravaged by Vikings makes for an impressive route. We did say it was eclectic.
4. Surfing, Bundoran, County Donegal
Ireland’s surfing reputation continues to swell for good reason. Massive breaks and peaks pound the coastline along the Wild Atlantic Way, the landscapes are unspoiled and the locals hospitable to a fault.
Surf-God Kelly Slater described our west coast as a “cold paradise” while US news channel CNN ranked Donegal as a top surfing destination. And nowhere is the surf better than Bundoran, the surf capital of Ireland. It has primo offshore conditions and Ben Bulben, Ireland’s most distinct poet-inspiring mountain, backdrops the sandy beach.
5. Whale-watching, West Cork, County Cork
What is it about Irelands waters that whales and other cetaceans (dolphins and porpoises) love? In recent times West Cork has become one of the best places in all Europe to see these humungous mammals breach the water.
Pilot, orca and massive humpback whales are regulars and tours are abundant for any visitors interested in testing the water themselves. There’s even Moby Dick’s pub in Youghal, so-called because of the 1954 Gregory Peck movie filmed there.
6. Swimming, Dunmore East, County Waterford
Is there anything better than a swim in the sea to revive the senses? Being an island means Ireland has countless coastal spots to dive, paddle, bathe, and splash about in. Like at Dunmore East.
This fishing village is packed with seafood restaurants and traditional pubs, is home to no-less-than four secluded coves and known for excellent swimming conditions. Inlets are carved out of the lofty red sandstone cliffs, which helped build the cute harbor here in the 1820s, while seabird colonies make for curious swimming partners.
More of a landlubber? No problem, there's more to sport in Ireland than getting wet!