You’re looking for the best sea kayaking spots in Ireland. You’ve seen “In the Name of the Father” and “Michael Collins,” own every Dropkick Murphys record, and have done the St. Patrick’s Day green beer thing five years running, but now, you’re looking for a deeper connection to your Celtic roots. Fear not, young Paddy. Below find three great sea kayaking spots that will satiate your love of kayaks and oceans while laying bare all the majesty of Ireland.
- West Cork. The coastal waters around West Cork provide one of the top sea kayaking environments in Ireland. Though dubiously dubbed a “water sport” by the tourism council of West Cork-which technically, it is, but really who can look at that and not laugh?-sea kayaking in the area offers views of Ireland’s dramatic coastal cliffs and spiraled inlets. When you’re not in the boat, you’ll find plenty to do both on Cork’s coast-seaside horseback riding is a favorite past time-and in it’s towns and villages, “pubs” is an official destination designation on West Cork’s official website. Tip: No matter how much Guinness you think you can handle, you’re not a real working class Irishman. Take it easy.
- Clew Bay. Clew Bay is a natural bay leading directly to the Atlantic Ocean on Ireland’s northwestern coast, and one of the country’s best sea kayaking spots. Watching the sun rise or set over the dramatic peaks of nearby Roman Island, you’ll feel like you’ve entered the timeless land of Irish folklore and balladry. Out of the sea, Mayo County, of which Clew Bay is a part, is home to over 160 graves from the Neolithic period dating from the 4th millennium BC. The area is rich with folklore and culture. Tip: You will not find any leprechauns. Take our word for it and don’t even bother looking. However, do pick up a book of local folklore to enhance your trip.
- Rathlin Island. Rathlin Island is an island off the northeastern coast of Northern Ireland, and one of the best sea kayaking spots in Ireland. Rathlin Island is a small, secluded spot where you’ll be kayaking alongside seals. Large Atlantic swells will make the trip an adventure, as will the camping available throughout the island. For those looking to truly rough it, look no further than Rathlin Island. Tip: Rathlin Island is surrounded by rough seas, so be very careful. Consult tide charts and, if in doubt, find a local guide to help you plan and execute your sea kayaking forays.
Remember that Ireland and North Ireland are different countries, and while they may all have similar accents and cultural traditions, the wounds of the Catholic/Protestant divide and the power struggle between the British and IRA armies are still very fresh. Put aside whatever misgivings about being “PC” you may have, and avoid making an ass of yourself-and very possibly getting your ass beaten.