Diving in Strangford Lough, County Down

Diving in Strangford Lough, County Down

Northern Ireland’s rugged coastline, serene waters and thriving wildlife make for unique watersport experiences that cannot be found anywhere else.

From fascinating scuba dives to big wave surf, get in on the action on these must-do water sports.


1. Go scuba diving for wrecks in the Atlantic

The Antrim coast boasts clear waters and is prime wreck-diving territory, with a multitude of boats, ships and a WWII German sub to be found under the sea.

Aquaholics Dive Centre and Sea Safari (PADI certified) in Portstewart, offers ‘Try a Dive’ sessions in the sea for complete beginners - and can take the more experienced to some fascinating finds.

Explore the ancient wrecks and reefs of Rathlin Island, swim with seals along the Causeway Coast or discover caves under the island at Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge.

Après-sea: Stay at Strand House B&B and enjoy pub grub and live music at The Anchor Bar Complex in Portstewart.

2. Discover uninhabited islands by sea kayak on Strangford Lough

The largest inlet in the British Isles, Strangford Lough has astonishing scenery, hundreds of wild islands and an abundance of marine creatures and beautiful wildlife.

The best way to experience this spectacular place is by sea kayak on the Strangford Lough Canoe Trail. Get up close to the shoreline and rock pools for a chance to see seals, and look out for porpoises and otters bobbing in the waters.

The calm waters in the north of the lough are contrasted by the fast-flowing waters of ‘the narrows’ in the south, where a high level of expertise is required. Kayak hire and guided sea kayak experiences are available from Mobile Team Adventure and Clearsky Adventure Centre.

Après-sea: Stay at The Shoreline at Mountstewart and dine at The Saltwater Brig.

3. Ride the waves on the north coast

The north coast boasts some of the best surf in the world, with stunning beaches and phenomenal coastline.

Big waves can be found on the north coast of County Antrim and County Londonderry and in particular stretches of water off the coast of Portrush, Portstewart and Portballintrae - a must for experienced surfers looking for their next epic ride.

Choose from several surf schools open all year round who cater for beginners and advanced surfers.

Après-sea: Stay at Portrush Townhouse Boutique Hostel and eat at The Harbour Bistro, part of the bustling Ramore bar and restaurant complex.

4. Climb around clifftops, castles and coves

Coasteering allows you to experience body-surfing waves, scramble up waterfalls and cliffs and fling yourself into deep water from heights of up to 20ft.

With shallow coastal caves and hidden coves, the unique coastline of the North Coast is the perfect place for this daredevil activity any time of year.

Trained local guides will take you to the best spots including caves below the medieval Dunluce Castle, perched dramatically on the coastal cliffs.

Après-sea: Stay at the Bayview Hotel and gorge on great food at Tartine at Distillers Arms.

5. Canoe around Fermanagh’s famous lakelands

Fermanagh is a county dominated by water with the stunning Lough Erne at its heart.

Paddle past innumerable enchanting islands only accessible by water on the Lough Erne Canoe Trail.

Spot kingfishers, otters and grey herons as well as historic lough-side features such as the iconic Devenish Tower, Crom Estate and Enniskillen Castle.

There are a number of itineraries highlighting the best the canoe trail has to offer. For a truly unique experience spend the night on your very own deserted island at the Trannish Island Bothy.

Après-sea: Eat at The Sheelin Kitchen.

6. Jump on a high-speed Giant’s Causeway sea tour

Feel the wind in your hair as a high-speed boat blasts you around the iconic sights of the coast. Taking in the glorious sights of Ramore Head, the Skerries, Dunluce Castle, the Giant’s Causeway and the stunning sandy beaches of Portrush.

This is the ultimate way to view the famous causeway coast from a whole new angle. A number of tours are available from Portrush Sea Tours or Aquaholics Dive Centre and Sea Safari..

Après-sea: Stay at the boutique Shola Coach House B&B and sample craft beers at Kiwi’s Brew Bar.

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