Home to thousands of lakes and surrounded by water, the island of Ireland is the perfect place to go kayaking.
Looking to get out on the water? Here are the ten best spots for kayaking in Ireland.
The waterways of Ireland make for the ideal location to experience the raw beauty of Ireland. From rugged coastlines to magical inland lakes and mighty rivers galore, kayaking in Ireland couldn’t be easier.
Ireland has the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Celtic Sea to the south, and the Irish Sea to the east. As well as this, there are over 12,000 lakes and rivers to be explored throughout the island.
So, hop into your kayak, grab your paddle, and embark on a journey through the majestic Irish landscape. Here are our top ten best spots for kayaking in Ireland.
10. River Blackwater – fun for all levels
First up on our list of best spots for kayaking in Ireland is the River Blackwater.
As one of County Tyrone’s best-kept secrets, the River Blackwater is any kayaker’s dream.
With over 80 km (50 miles) of water to be discovered, kayakers will be delighted at the variety of routes on offer. There are calm and tranquil waterways and more exciting grade three whitewater.
Address: River Blackwater, Co. Tyrone
9. The River Barrow – for a step into the past
The River Barrow that spans six counties was navigated by Ireland’s High Kings and the Vikings. More recently, it used to be a key transport route for the malt that makes Guinness.
This tree-lined river makes for the perfect multi-day kayaking experience. Enjoy calm canals, or if you’re feeling brave, why not head down one of the adventurous weirs?
8. Umfin Island – for experienced kayakers
Not for the fainthearted or inexperienced, Umfin Island in County Donegal is a kayaking adventure of a lifetime.
Paddle across the wild Atlantic Ocean before heading beneath the island of Umfin. This sea tunnel is narrow and pitch black, so it is not an adventure for everyone.
Address: Umfin Island, Co. Donegal, Ireland
7. Lower Bann – for changing scenery
Paddle the 58 km (36 miles) Lower Bann canoe trail from Lough Neagh to the Antrim coastline. Embrace the ever-changing landscape and nature as you meander your way along this trail.
While most of this route is flat water, there are some sections where the water may be difficult to navigate for beginners.
Address: Lower Bann, Co. Derry, Ireland
6. Dalkey – for seal-spotting
Just a short distance from Dublin, Dalkey makes for a beautiful kayaking location.
Paddle out around Dalkey Island, home to a colony of seals. Watch them frolic in the water and sunbathe on the land. This is definitely one for the bucket list!
Address: Dalkey, Co. Dublin, Ireland
5. Lough Gill – for an island-hopping adventure
This picturesque lake is surrounded by magnificent woodland and rolling hills.
It is home to 20 small islands, one of which happens to be Innisfree, the small uninhabited island made famous by W.B Yeats. It is only accessible by the water, so what better way to explore some of literature’s great inspirations than by kayak.
Address: Lough Gill, Co. Sligo, Ireland
4. Copper Coast – for wonderful displays of nature
Waterford’s Copper Coast is up there with being one of our best spots for kayaking in Ireland. Enjoy the often sunny weather and paddle off along the wild and rugged coastline.
Enjoy sea arches, blowholes, caves, and tunnels while also keeping your eyes peeled for some of the local wildlife like seals and dolphins!
Address: Knockmahon, Bunmahon, Co. Waterford, X41 T923, Ireland
3. Lough Derg – for some inland adventures
With 21 blueway paddling trails covering 160 km (99 miles), Lough Derg is a haven for watersport enthusiasts. Some sections are more suited to the more seasoned kayakers, but there are plenty of routes to suit novices.
2. Lough Hyne – for bioluminescent magic
For one of the most magical and unique kayaking experiences, head to Lough Hyne just 8 km (5 miles) southwest of Skibbereen. This lake is unique in that it is a saltwater lake, and it is tidal.
However, that isn’t the most unique thing about Lough Hyne. The lake is home to bioluminescent phytoplankton that create a magical display of light under the cover of darkness.
Address: Co. Cork, Ireland
1. Inis Mór – for wild beauty
Topping our list of best spots for kayaking in Ireland is the stunning Inis Mór island.
With stunning beaches, rugged cliff faces, and mesmerising wildlife, the island of Inis Mór is one of infinite beauty. For beginner kayakers, we suggest paddling along the Kilmurvey Blue Flag beach as it is on the sheltered side of the island.
Address: Co. Galway, Ireland
As with all paddlesports, please ensure you are wearing a personal floatation device when on water. Make sure someone is aware of your kayaking adventure and that you also have a method of contacting; either a mobile phone or a VHF radio.
If you are kayaking in a tidal area, consult the tide tables before heading out onto the water. Similarly, be aware that currents may be present. If you are unsure about the conditions or weather, it is better to stay on land.
Most places have local guides or kayaking tour operators who will be knowledgeable about the area and can assist you with your first experience in a new area.