Popular Marine Activities

Among the most popular marine activities in Ireland are angling, sailing, scuba diving, surfing and whale/ dolphin watching.


It is estimated that approximately 123,000 visitors, both domestic and international, participated in angling activities in 2010, making angling more popular than golf in Ireland. Although many tourists participate in inland fishing, the appeal of the diverse coastline along the west, offering a wide variety of marine species, generates a steady flow of keen fishermen. The North Atlantic Drift, a powerful current that continues the Gulf Stream northeast, draws fish species from warmer climates to the west coast of Ireland, providing ideal conditions for shore fishing, small boat fishing and deep sea fishing. Some of the most common species caught off the west coast include mackerel, turbot, ray, plaice, dogfish, wrasse and sea bass.

Other coastal areas around Ireland also offer a satisfying fishing experience for angling tourists such as Waterford, Wexford and Cork. Many angling destinations offer accommodation, boat charters, equipment and local knowledge for a variety of angling pursuits.

Further information is available on the website of I nland Fisheries Ireland, Fishing in Ireland 



Sailing in Ireland encompasses a multitude of seafaring vessels such as yachts, power boats, catamarans, dinghies, keel boats and windsurfing boards. Sailing is one of Ireland’s expanding industries with a steady annual growth rate and is fast becoming a popular destination on the European yachting itinerary. A variety of training, racing and cruising facilities are available in many coastal areas.

The Irish Sailing Association (ISA) is the national governing body for sailing and motor boating in Ireland. Further information on sailing in Ireland is available on the ISA’s website.


Scuba Diving/ Snorkelling

The waters off the west coast of Ireland are kept relatively temperate and clear by the Gulf Stream. As Ireland is situated on the very edge of the western Continental Shelf, the giant landmass on which Europe sits its coastal waters offer scuba divers and snorkelers diverse exposure to its underwater marine life. Clubs, courses, training, equipment and facilities are available at the main diving sites on these coastal regions.  

Further information is available in the Adventure Sports section and also at http://diving.ie/site/



Surfing is an activity more commonly associated with a warm and sunny climate, however Ireland is fast becoming a popular surfing destination due to the quality of the waves generated along its coast. The rough seas of the Altantic Ocean have made the west coast of Ireland one of Europe’s key locations for hosting competitions.

The most popular surfing beaches in Ireland include: Lahinch on the west coast, Rosnowlagh, Bundoran and Strandhill in the north-west, and Tramore on the south coast. The rapidly developing surfing industry in Ireland provides a number of clubs, tours, lessons and equipment to all levels. Caution is advised on Ireland’s coasts however as the waters can be unpredictable and dangerous at times.

  Further information is available at http://www.isasurf.ie/


Whale/Dolphin Watching

The Irish coastal waters were declared a dolphin and whale sanctuary in the 1990s in line with the Government’s commitment to the preservation of these mammals in their natural environment. Following State support and promotion, a steady stream of whale and dolphin watching enthusiasts have visited the Irish coastal areas. Approximately twenty-four whale species have been observed in Irish waters; the most common include baleen, fin, minke and humpback whales. West Cork is the most popular destination for whale watching especially during the summer months when it is a regular feeding ground for whales.

A whale watching organisation on the south coast, Whale Watch West Cork,   have set out a schedule for whale activity in the area. The schedule is an approximation as whale activity can vary and their movements are not always predictable.


Other popular water activities

Kite surfing, wind Surfing, coasteering, caving, sea kayaking, water skiing and wakeboarding are other water activities which are increasing in popularity in Ireland. A number of facilities are offered by professionals across the country including training, lessons and equipment in these activities.


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