The summer is here and that means one thing, it’s kayaking time! Make sure to spend your weekends exploring the very best of Ireland from the water.

When the sun shines in Ireland, there is nowhere else in the world we would rather be. The views are something serious especially from a hilltop or the saddle of your bike. But I think we can all agree that there is nothing quite like seeing the coastline or the riverbank from a kayak. So without further ado, get yourself over to one of these 10 stunning locations and go for a paddle.

1. The Copper Coast, Co. Waterford

Kayaking Ireland
Image: Pure Adventure

Pure Adventure runs regular trips from both Tramore and Bunmahon. Lately, we departed from the latter and the route certainly didn’t disappoint. Bathed in glorious sunshine we glided along the calm, crystal waters of the Copper Coast. Every so often we ducked in and out of caves and coves exploring these epic cliffs from the water. The cacophony of colour will be forever imprinted beneath my eyelids. The yellow of the cliffs and the sparkling green water as the sun danced on it was nothing short of incredible. The little inlets, coves, caves, blowholes, rock faces and seabirds circling overhead make for one special experience.

More info: Pure Adventures

2. Sandycove to Dalkey Island, Co Dublin

Kayaking Ireland
Image: Rob Durston/Failte Ireland

For a dose of the wild in the big city, head out to Dalkey (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. Dalkey Island is home to a Napoleonic Martello Tower and a large colony of playful seals who will dart under your kayak as you paddle around the island. Make sure to take a leap of faith on the 20ft cliff jump tucked away behind the harbour.

For other places to get your kayaking fix in Dublin, check this out.

More info:

3. Lough Hyne, Co Cork

Kayaking Ireland
Image: Atlantic Sea Kayaking

The stunning Lough Hyne is the only inland saltwater lake in Europe. It is also Ireland’s first marine reserve so you’re guaranteed to spot some marine plants, animals and fish. That alone makes it worth a paddle in our books. But it gets better, providers Atlantic Sea Kayaking take groups out on starlit paddles. With no light pollution and no noise, you can bask in the moment with nothing but the stars above you the incredible bioluminescent sparks in the water beneath you.

If you are up for an urban paddle then check out our guide to city sea kayaking in Cork.

More info: Atlantic Sea Kayaking

4. The Lough Derg Blueway

Lough Derg Blueway
Image: Brian Morrison

The newly developed Lough Derg Blueway boasts a total of 160km of trail which is broken up into 21 sections – ranging from easy and perfect for beginners to much more challenging. Experienced paddlers are really well catered for too. Whatever your level, you’re guaranteed a completely unique view of this glorious landscape.

There’s abundance of access points in the picturesque towns and villages around Lough Derg and along the River Shannon. There are also a number of spots which are ideal for picnics or even for an overnight if you fancy making it a multi-day adventure. Lough Derg Watersports and UL Adventure Centre both offer kayak hire and guided excursions.

More info: Lough Derg Watersports and UL Adventure Centre

7 of the Best Activities for Outdoor Lovers on Lough Derg

5. Clew Bay, Co Mayo

Kayaking Ireland
Image: Gareth McCormack/Failte Ireland/Tourism Ireland

Clew Bay is a stunning sight to behold. And there’s no better way to explore the drumlins than by kayak. Follow the expert guides as they introduce you to the diverse and ever-changing environment of the 365 islands of Clew Bay. Look out for kingfishers, seal colonies, a vast variety of seabirds and maybe even a dolphin or two. Enjoy the wonders it beholds all against the backdrop of Croagh Patrick.

More info: Clew Bay Bike Hire

6. The North Coast Sea Kayak Trail, the Causeway Coast, NI

walking causeway coast way
Image: Northern Ireland Tourist Board

From Magilligan Point in County Londonderry all the way to Waterfoot at the mouth of Glenariff, this is the North Coast Sea Kayak Trail. You can paddle any one of the six sections, all depending on your experience and what you are looking for. All will enjoy the incredible scenery, wildlife and local history. Taking in the ancient castles, the Giant’s Causeway and a dramatic rope bridge.

More info: Outdoor NI

7. River Barrow, Co Kilkenny

Kayaking Ireland
Image: Pure Adventures

Follow the trail travelled by the High Kings of Ireland, the Monks and the Vikings and explore one of Ireland’s best-kept secrets, the River Barrow. Only local walkers and cyclists really get to experience its splendour on a daily basis. But why go by land when you can travel by water?! Pure Adventure offers fun day and half day kayak trips on the River Barrow. Their most popular trip is the Graiguenamanagh Loop through the beautiful rapids and weirs in the Wooded Barrow Valley.

More info: Pure Adventures

8. The East Inishowen Sea Kayak Trail, Co Donegal

Kayaking in the East Inishowen Sea

You’ll never tire of this particular route no matter how many times you paddle it. There is always something fresh! The East Inishowen Sea Kayak Trail commences close to the ancient walled city of Derry. From Culmore Point, a definite spit of land at the mouth of the River Foyle, the sea kayak trail runs northwards along the western shore of Lough Foyle. Passing through the narrows at Greencastle/Magilligan Point, the paddler departs Lough Foyle into the Atlantic Ocean. Scenery, wildlife and history, it ticks all the boxes!

More info: Outsider Magazine

The Road Less Travelled: Our Whistle Stop Tour of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

9. Liscannor Bay, Co Clare

Kayaking Ireland
Image: North Clare Sea Kayaking

Explore the sea caves and paddle around the sea stacks close to the iconic Cliffs of Moher on this Cliffs and Caves tour of Liscannor Bay. Starting in Liscannor at the pier, you hug the rugged coast as you paddle along the water taking in the many different species of seabirds and the enormous cathedral-like ceilings of the caves. It’s a trip you won’t frget in a hurry!

More info: The North Clare Sea Kayaking Tour Company

10. River Blackwater, Co Tyrone

maghery blackwater river ulster

A trip on the Blackwater river can range from two hours to 80km over three days, covering sections ranging from grade one to three. The entire waterway offers everything a kayaker could want, from a tranquil and calm slow-moving river to full-on grade three whitewater. Expect total solitude and a wonderful display of wildlife. Begin your trip at Ravella Bridge near the border town of Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone.

More info: Outsider Magazine

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By Orla O'Muiri

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