Paddle at the ready: here are the five best places for watersports in County Cork.
Steeped in maritime history, the Cork coastline is the second-longest coastline in the country at 1,094 km (679.8 miles).
Cork is no stranger to the water and offers locals and visitors alike an array of water-based activities to try out. We’ve narrowed it down to the five best places for watersports in County Cork.
5. Gecko Adventures, West Cork – have a go at SUP and kayaking
West Cork is known fondly for its many beaches. Thus, this beautiful part of the county does not fall short when it comes to aqua adventure.
In the beautiful Courtmacsherry in the heart of West Cork, you will find Gecko Adventures. This outdoor activity centre offers a range of activities, including windsurfing, kayaking, and stand up paddleboarding (SUP).
The centre is on the doorstep of Courtmacsherry Beach, from where you can ride the waves that the west of Ireland is known for. Alternatively, opt to take a more relaxing approach and try your hand at SUP.
A peaceful paddle along the coast is what you can expect when you sign up for the centre’s SUP yoga class. Starting with some very basic movements on the board, you’ll soon be moving to some more challenging standing positions.
One for the thrill-seekers is windsurfing. There are skills classes and weekend courses, from total beginners to advanced wave riding clinics, waterstarting, and carve gybe sessions.
The coastal kayak day and sunset tours take you out on the water to explore the impressive coastline and caves. Thus, giving you a unique view of the Wild Atlantic Way, making this one of the best places for watersports in County Cork.
Address: Beach, Courtmacsherry, Co. Cork, Ireland
4. Atlantic Sea Kayaking, West Cork and Cork city – discover the waters beneath
Staying in West Cork waters, home of the night kayaking Atlantic Sea Kayaking offers a range of different tours that allow you to explore the untapped waters off the coast of Skibbereen or to explore Cork city from a different perspective.
The Secrets Of Seaweed Tour is a half-day excursion that takes you during low tide to where sea vegetables grow in large amounts, learning to identify them, how to pick them sustainably, and their different uses.
The Discover Kayaking Tour is a half-day kayaking safari that offers the opportunity to discover the dramatic coastline of West Cork and marine wildlife up close by taking to the sheltered waters of Castlehaven Bay.
Explore sea arches, islands, and caves and observe the varied birdlife on the West Cork Sea Kayaking Adventure. Alternatively, take to the waters of Northern Europe’s only inland saltwater lake on the Lough Hyne to the Sea Tour.
Those in the city haven’t been forgotten about with the Under the Bridges Tour offering people a unique way to explore the River Lee, the bridges that run over it and buildings that run along it.
Address: Reen, Unionhall, Co. Cork, Ireland
3. Cork Harbour Boat Hire, Cobh – explore this historic part of Cork
A short 30-minute drive or train journey from the city will see you in Cobh, an island in Cork city’s harbour which is steeped in maritime history and known widely as the Titanic’s last port of call in 1912.
If you have ever wanted to try your hand at driving a boat, then look no further than this historic spot to do just that.
A boating experience with a difference, Cork Harbour Boat Hire allows you to explore the depths of Cork Harbour on its self-drive boats, high-speed ribs, and sailing tours.
The self-drive boats are straightforward and accessible. Plus, they are easy to drive, making it the perfect way to explore the harbour, taking in sights such as Haulbowline, Spike Island, Ringaskiddy, and Cobh’s seaside promenade.
Training is given before heading out on the water, and the tours are led by fully qualified safety boat guides, who allow you to independently discover the harbour.
With the wind in your hair aboard the high-speed ribs, this tour passes Spike Island, the Irish Naval Base, and Roches Point Lighthouse. Along the way, you can enjoy beautiful views of colourful Cobh from the water.
The two-hour historic sailing tour passes Sirius Arts Centre, one of the original homes of the Royal Cork Yacht Club.
Then, you will head out towards the Atlantic Ocean, the Titanic’s last anchorages, and past the Spit Bank lighthouse, the oldest screw-pile lighthouse in the world.
Address: 17 Westbourne Pl, Kilgarvan, Cobh, Co. Cork, P24 V628, Ireland
2. Swell Surf School, East Cork – food for your soul
Now, we travel further southeast to Whitegate in East Cork in search of one of the five best places for watersports in County Cork. Here, you’ll find food for your soul with Swell Surf School at Inch Beach.
Whatever your reason for learning to surf, whether you are looking for a fun day out with friends or a new hobby for yourself or the kids, Swell Surf School has something for everyone with its rental offering, group tours, and surf school.
Swell also offers coasteering, an adrenaline-pumping activity around the rocky coastline. Guests will experience a combination of adventure swimming, exploring gullies and caves, and traversing the lower level rocks to jumping sites.
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Address: Inch Beach, Whitegate, Co. Cork, Ireland
1. Ballyhass Wakepark, Mallow – try out an increasingly popular sport
Topping our list of five best places for watersports in County Cork is Ballyhass Wakepark. You’ll have the opportunity to try out wakeboarding, a sport that has grown in popularity from its roots in California.
Although the sport is traditionally performed using a purpose-built speed boat where the rider is towed behind at around 40.3 kph (25 mph), cable wakeboarding is becoming increasingly popular.
An innovative cable system allows wakeboarders of all ages and experience levels to wakeboard without the need for a boat. Thus, making it an easy way to learn the sport.
It also gives those who want to try it for the first time and may be nervous at the thought of being towed behind a boat at high speed the opportunity to test the waters in the safety of Ballyhass Wakepark.
The park is also well-known for its popular Aquapark. Here, you’ll find inflatable slides, trampolines, climbing walls, monkey bars, and swings in an old quarry lake. What a great way to finish a day of adventure at the park.
Address: 1, Co. Cork, Ireland
By Breda Graham