Last updated on February 13, 2024
The Irish island is known for its spectacularly beautiful coasts! Imagine paddling off the coast on a beautiful sunny day, the small waves playing on the cliffs and the gentle current wanting to gently wash you onto the beach again and again. A few strokes of the paddle bring you back on course.
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You are gliding along comfortably when a dorsal fin appears – a playful Bottlenose Dolphin is happy about the company. Back at the jetty, seals bob between the boats. They are Harbour Seals – a truly fitting name. Sea kayaking in Ireland – really beautiful and not a problem at all….
However, things can be different, because not only the coasts, but also the sea weather can be spectacular. Tidal currents, wind and swell can then turn out to be more violent than the innocent paddler had suspected. Quickly you are capsized or driven out. The Irish Sea, the Celtic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast cannot be compared to the Baltic Sea.
All the more important that the coastal paddler has the appropriate experience, informs himself at local kayak clubs or even better – joins an experienced guide, at least for the first few tours.
Below I’ve picked out a few providers around the Irish coasts where you can rent a kayak and join a coastal paddling tour. Check out the providers online, most tours are designed as vacation fun for kids and group fun for beginners.
Tour guests are usually offered rental wetsuits (4-5mm) and life jackets for safety. If you have your own clothes, feel free to bring them, then you can do without the rental stuff.
By the way, the water around Ireland is quite “fresh” even in summer. In spring and autumn a dry suit is not a mistake, in summer a wetsuit is enough – but it may be for safety, even on warm days.
By the way, we live in Ireland (second home) and run our motorcycle rental business here in the summer months (www.easycruiser.tours). We also have nice guest rooms (www.the-view-accommodation.ie). We have traveled the island again and again over many years and therefore know it very well.
What to do as an advanced coastal paddler?
What do you do if you’re an advanced coastal paddler who just wants a good boat and some tips?
If you can find beginner kayak courses, at least there are instructors who already know better. And if you find more serious courses for advanced paddlers, then you’ve landed with the pros, with whom you can certainly talk about an individual program for you.
By the way, you can always take this tip to heart for Ireland: Not everything is on the website – talk to the people in advance on the phone. The Irish are flexible and usually try to accommodate your wishes. Example: If you are an experienced coastal paddler and go on a first trip with the instructor, you might be able to rent a good kayak individually for the next few days and stay out of the group program.
A good tip for you could be the Atlantic Sea Kayaking Centre west of Cork: https://www.atlanticseakayaking.com/. They also have closed sea kayaks. With other providers it is mostly open sit-on-tops.
Another good tip is H2O Sea Kayaking (https://h2oseakayaking.com/tours/) on Sherkin Island off Baltimore in the southwest of Ireland. They offer tours of several days and also tours according to the customer’s wishes!
In the northwest of Ireland, in Donegal, near Burtonport, you will find Sea Kayaking Donegal (https://seakayakingdonegal.com/). Here they offer several coastal tours and training in sea kayaks.
Paddling in Dublin and near Dublin
Around Dublin there are several sea kayak tour providers. So you can easily combine a short stay in Dublin with a few days of paddling.
In front of Dublin lies the picturesque peninsula of Howth. You can easily reach it by public transport from the city. In the harbor of Howth you will find the provider Shearwater Sea Kayaking (www.shearwaterseekyaking.ie). There you will find taster days, courses and expeditions.
Nearby is the Dollymount Seafront. Soe is very protected by an offshore sand island. There you will find Sea Sports Dublin (www.sea-sports-dublin.business.site). There are rentals and lessons.
In Dublin harbor you can find City Kayaking (www.citykayaking.com) and paddle on the River Liffey, which runs through the middle of Dublin. Ok, this is not sea kayaking…but can be fun.
In the harbor of Dun Laoghaire, a district of Dublin, you’ll find the Irish National Sailing and Powerboat School (https://inss.ie/product/kayak-rental). Kayaks are also rented there. There’s no mention of courses, and I’m not sure if that’s limited to the harbor area.
You can do some more serious paddling a little further: at Kayaking.ie (www.kayaking.ie). They offer courses and expeditions there, and nice tours, like paddling with seals at Dalkey off the coast. They also offer white water courses on rivers nearby.
Paddling along the south-east coast
A little further on you will find the town of Wicklow. There you will find Wicklow Kayaking (www.wicklowkayaking.ie) and you can rent a kayak and go paddling on your own – but not on the sea, but on the Vartry River and Braod Lough, a lake just before the river flows into the sea. Yes ok, that’s freshwater paddling….
On the Hook Peninsula, The Irish Experience (www.theirishexperience.com) offers various kayak tours along the coast, such as a sunset tour or a lake cave tour.
Near Cork, ECO Adventures offers kayak tours (www.eastcorkoutdooradventures.org/kayaking).
Also near Cork, Funkytown Adventure Centre (www.funkytown.ie) offers tours and kayaking lessons.
Paddling on the southwest coast
Not far from Skibbereen is Atlantic Sea Kayaking (www.atlanticseakayaking.com). It offers kayak tours and courses, including more advanced courses. It also has enclosed sea kayaks (no open sit-on-tops). The provider has two locations in neighboring bays: Reen Pier and Lough Hyne.
Off the Baltimore harbor town is Sherkin Island, where you can take a ferry across in a few minutes. There you’ll find H2O Sea Kayaking (https://h2oseakayaking.com/tours/) . He offers up to 3-day tours and it is explicitly stated that he also makes programs according to customer wishes!
At Bantry there is Bantry Boat Hire (www.bantrybayboathire.com/kayaks), where you can do tours or rent a kayak.
At Glengarriff, Outdoors Ireland (www.outdoorsireland.com/activities/glengarriff-bay-kayak) offers various outdoor activities, including kayak tours along the coast in closed kayaks.
At Adrigole on the Beara Peninsula, Wild Atlantic Wildlife at the West Cork Sailing Centre (https://wildatlanticwildlife.ie/kayaking-with-the-seals/) offers kayak rentals in the harbor and bay area and advertises the seals that live there.
At Ballyvaughan in Galway Bay, North Clare Sea Kayaking (https://www.northclareseakayaking.com/tours) offers several tours in sea kayaks.
Across the bay, near Galway, you’ll find Rusheen Bay Windsurfing, which also offers kayak tours and rentals. The boats are beginner-friendly open sit-on-tops. (https://www.rusheenbay.com/kayak-tours).
Paddling on the northwest coast and in the north
In Conemara, near Letterfrack, Connemara Wild Escapes offers several kayak tours in seakayaks. Individual tours are probably also available. (www.connemarawildescapes.ie/kayaking).
A bit further north, in County Mayo you will find the Summer SUP and Kayak (https://summersup.ie/west-mayo/kayaking/) near Louisburgh. This is probably more of a SUP operator, but you can also rent a kayak there.
On Achill Island (accessible by bridge), Achill Surf offers several activities, including sea-kayaking. Achill Island is very beautiful, by the way, especially Keem Bay. (https://achillsurf.com/sea-kayaking/).
In the far northwest, near Burtonport, you will find Sea Kayaking Donegal (https://seakayakingdonegal.com/). Here they offer several coastal tours and training in sea kayaks.
On Mulroy Bay is Eco Atlantic Adventures (https://ecoatlanticadventures.com/). This offers a wide range of activities, including several sea kayak tours. Fanad Lighthouse – one of the tours is a fantastic destination, by the way.
There is one more provider on the opposite shore of Mulroy Bay: Feel Free Kayaking (https://feelfreekayaking.ie). This one also offers several tours in sea kayaks.
Causeway Coast Kayaking Tours (www.causewaycoastkayakingtours.com) near Ballintoy in Northern Ireland offers several tours, for example to the famous rope bridge Carrick-a-Reede.
I did not find any suitable providers on the northeast coast.
If you enjoy coastal paddling, you’ll find fantastic opportunities to do so in Ireland. Because tides, wind and waves can make conditions difficult, it’s a good idea, especially for the novice sea kayaker, to entrust yourself to an experienced guide.
On guided tours you will be provided with a kayak, paddle, suit and vest, can relax and enjoy the day, and can ask the guide questions along the way and learn many interesting things about the best locations and conditions.
I hope that this list of providers has helped you a bit in your vacation planning and wish you great paddling tours on the beautiful coasts of Ireland!
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