Working in the city but eager to make the most of the long summer evenings? Getting out on the water is a great way to unwind after a long day and there’s no better place for it than Dublin.
On first impression, Dublin looks like a lot of other capital cities – a bustling epicentre, filled with people rushing about their daily business. However, scratch beneath the surface and you will find a host of outdoor activities on offer. Kayaking enthusiasts are especially well catered for thanks to an abundance of kayaking spots both along the coast and in the city centre itself.
Check out the information below to find out all about the best kayaking spots in Dublin – all of which are suitable for expert kayakers and beginners alike.
1. Kayaking around Dalkey Island
Dalkey is a small village, just a 30 minute DART ride from the city centre. Home to one of the most spectacular sections of coastline in Ireland, it is begging to be explored by kayak. Bullock Harbour is definitely one of the best launching spots in the area for those wanting to venture out to Dalkey Island and the Muglins. Bullock is also a great launch for those wanting to stay closer to shore, exploring the coastline either towards Dun Laoghaire or out towards Killiney and Shankill.
What to expect:
Epic views of the city centre, Killiney Hill, Dalkey Island and the Dublin and Wicklow mountains. You will also get a sneaky peek at the beautiful real estate that backs on to the sea. From Bullock, you can opt to take a number of different routes – either up and down the coastline towards either Killiney or Dun Laoghaire or out around Dalkey Island and the Muglins. Dalkey Island is home to a Napoleonic Martello Tower which dates back to 800AD, so it is a nice spot to stop for a picnic. It is also home to a large colony of playful seals who will dart under your kayak as you paddle around the island.
Bullock Harbour is located a 10-minute walk from Dalkey DART station. Jenny Kilbride of Kayaking.ie offers daily kayaking trips around Dalkey Island and the surrounding coastline. Trips leave at 9.30am from Thursday – Sunday and every day except Tuesdays at 2pm, all of the trips are open to every level of paddler from complete beginner to expert. She also runs beginner kayaking courses in the harbour on Saturday mornings at 10am.
The 20ft cliff jump tucked away behind the harbour. Jenny will be more than willing to point it out to you.
2. Kayaking down the River Liffey
Whether you are a visitor to Dublin or have lived here all your life, taking a trip down the River Liffey by kayak will allow you to see the city from a completely different angle as you glide past some of its most iconic landmarks.
What to expect:
Kayaking through the city centre gives you the opportunity to see some of its most iconic landmarks away from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets. The trip can be as strenuous as you like – you can opt to take the two-hour tour which brings you through the city-centre or the three-hour tour which will continue further up the Liffey to the slightly wilder parts up around Islandbridge.
City Kayaking offers kayaking trips in Dublin City Centre. Tours leave daily from Dublin City Moorings which is located next to the Jeanie Johnson ship on the north side of the river. Daily trips (including sunset trips) are €33. Their Music Under the Bridge trip costs €39 and kids paddling costs just €25.
3. Kayaking in Howth and around Ireland’s Eye
Located on the north side of the city, Howth offers some great kayaking. Whether you choose to go for a leisurely paddle around Ireland’s Eye, stopping off to take in the abundance of wildlife on the island or a more strenuous paddle around Howth Head or across to Lambay Island is up to you – either way you will not be disappointed with what the area has to offer kayaking enthusiasts.
What to expect:
Beginners and expert kayakers are both well catered for around the coastline. Ireland’s Eye is just a 4km paddle from the shore and offers stunning views back to Howth and of the surrounding area. Howth is a great spot to while away a few hours post-kayak too – there are a number of excellent restaurants serving top notch seafood and lively bars.
Shearwater Kayaking offers a host of courses and tours departing from Howth Harbour. During the summer months, it runs afternoon sessions which will give you the opportunity to explore Ireland’s Eye. Sessions cost €55.
Treat yourself to some locally caught fish at the Oar House which is located on the pier.
4. Kayaking on the Grand Canal
The Grand Canal offers a whopping 131km of calm waters waiting to be explored. Although, I reckon the amount of people keen to take on the whole lot in one go are few! Those who are looking for a more sedate paddle can opt to take on either the sections of the canal based in city centre or go slightly further afield to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
What to expect:
Those who fancy staying close to town can head to Portobello for a jaunt down the canal. Extreme Time Off offers 2-hour kayaking excursions down the Grand Canal from Portobello which are perfect for beginners. If you are willing to travel a little further out of town, you can explore the wilder parts of the Grand Canal. Departing from Leixlip, you will feel a million miles from the city centre as you explore the peaceful waters of this historic section of the Grand Canal.
Extreme Time Out offers two-hour tours of the canal for €25 and one-hour social excursions on Saturday mornings for €15. Kayaking.ie run 2.5-hour long kayaking trips from Leixlip every Saturday and Sunday, the tour costs €49.
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