Categories: things to do

With over 200 kilometres of diverse coastline and a few inland hideaways, Northern Ireland is the perfect destination for your wild swimming adventure, once it is safe to travel again.  For tips and advice on how to enjoy the open water safely please visit RNLI.

The long-term benefits of cold-water immersion have been scientifically proven for many years - these include; better sleep, managing stress/ anxiety, and reducing blood pressure. However, last year during lockdown there began a dramatic rise in people taking to the open water, either for exercise or the cold water benefits.

If this is your first swim, be vigilant of your limits and your ability. Do not attempt to jump in - if you are not acclimatised, the cold water can astound you; get in slowly and control your breathing. Common sense and a little preparation make all the difference.

Here are a few things you may find helpful post-swim:

  • Changing towel/ robe

  • Hot water bottle

  • Flask of tea or a hot beverage

  • Warm socks and gloves

  • Warm coat

We reached out to our wild swimmers to find out their favourite swimming spots in Northern Ireland and created an inspirational top 20 for when we can travel again.  

Ballygally Beach, Ballygally, County Antrim

Along the Causeway Coastal Route, you will find this captivating beach - and once you visit you will see why it is award-winning.

Bloody Bridge, Ballahbeg, Newcastle, County Down

Just outside Newcastle at the foot of the Mourne Mountains lies the moody, lagoon-like waters of Bloody Bridge.

Brompton Beach, Bangor, County Down

Located along the North Down coastal path between Holywood and Bangor, lies this hidden gem. Whether you wade in or jump in, it’s worth a visit.

Browns Bay Beach, Islandmagee, County Antrim

A small sandy bay in the shape of a horse show, nestled between Skenaghan Point and Barrs Point on the northern tip of Islandmagee peninsula.

Carrick-a-Rede, Ballintoy, County Antrim

This place needs no introduction but this time why not try a swim and a different view of the famous Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge?

Cushendun Beach, Cushendun, Ballymena, County Antrim

This rural beach with its crystal clear waters and sheltered bay make it a beautiful place to swim.

Gawley’s Gate, Lough Neagh, County Antrim

Located on the south-eastern shore of Lough Neagh, north of Lurgan and west of Lisburn. Go for a dip and then sit and enjoy a picnic whilst enjoying the view.

Photo courtesy of Michael McCafferty Photography

Glenoe Waterfall, Larne, County Antrim

Nestled in the glens of Antrim, Glenoe waterfall is a hidden treasure and a must see visit, featuring a 30-foot waterfall and beautiful scenery. 

Gortin Glen Lakes, Gortin, County Tyrone

Located between Omagh and Gortin, this spectacular lake is underrated and is a must see.

Herring Pond, Portstewart, County Antrim

A little piece of heaven hidden in plain sight, Herring Pond has been around for many years, just beyond the promenade, tucked behind Harbour Hill.  Top tip: bring swimming shoes or flip flops to walk across the stones.

Whiteabbey, County Antrim

North of Belfast, Whiteabbey is a townland in Newtownabbey, on the shore of Belfast Lough where the sun splits the trees.

Kilclief Beach, Strangford, County Down

Complete with a castle dating back to 1413, on the narrows of Strangford Lough this beach should be on your to-do list. On a clear day it’s possible to see the Isle of Man.

Crawfordsburn Country Park, County Down

This scenic and tranquil beach is situated on the coast between Bangor and Holywood. Witness the spectacular scenery and views across Belfast Lough.

Loughmacrory Lough, County Tyrone

A hidden gem in the middle of County Tyrone, Loughmacrory Lake. Enjoy the flora and fauna of this beautiful, unspoilt freshwater environment.

Muckross Bay, Kesh, County Fermanagh

Situated just outside the village of Kesh, this freshwater jetty is part of Lough Erne and a beautiful spot to stop on your travels.

Orlock Point, Donaghadee, County Down

A hidden cove along the North Down coastal path, this stunner offers clear waters and a sheltered swim.

Oxford Island, Lough Neagh, Craigavon, County Armagh

A National Nature Reserve on the southern shores of Lough Neagh whether you are stopping by for a dip or just a day dream, it’s worth it.

River Bann, Coleraine, County Antrim

The River Bann as the largest in NI is divided into two parts. The lower Bann flows northward and carries the waters of Lough Neagh to the sea.

Waterfoot Beach, Glenariff, Antrim Glens, County Antrim

Located on the Causeway Coastal Route at the foot of Glenariff Glen, this popular haven is surrounded by wildflower meadows and backed by dunes.

Whitehead, County Antrim

Enjoy a walk along the coast and a swim at this small but beautiful bay between the limestone cliffs of Whitehead and the black volcanic cliff of Blackhead.

We hope you enjoy these wild swimming suggestions.  Let us know how you get on by sharing your experiences online and joining the conversation with #MyGiantAdventure.