Water Sports in Ireland – 10 of the Best!

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Naturally enough, by being surrounded by water and home to some of the largest inland waterways in Europe, water sports in Ireland are extremely popular and very easy to come by!

From down Donegal at the top of the Wild Atlantic Way, through the Shannon Erne Waterway the whole way to the River Liffey in Dublin, you can find a fantastic variety of water sports suitable for all ages and abilities.

We would all like to get out and try every one of them but some of us just don’t have the time and maybe just want to try one in their spare time at the weekend.

That is why we are making it really easy for you by putting together a list of what we believe to be the best water sports and activities on the island of Ireland that includes kayaking, sailing, wakeboarding and much more.

Check them out here and hopefully, this will give you the inspiration to get out on the water to make a splash with your friends or family.

10 of the Best Water Sports and Activities in Ireland

– Kayaking

A popular and readily available water sport in Ireland is kayaking.

From the Atlantic Ocean to the Irish Sea, via the many rivers and lakes on the Emerald Isle, you will find people using our wonderful waterways to paddle a kayak for sport or leisure.

One of the best things about kayaking is how easy it is to learn and take part in, making it ideal for novices. There are many centres and instructors throughout Ireland who teach kayaking as an activity or else just hire out kayaks for the day to people who feel they don’t need assistance.

Another great thing about kayaking is that it is a watersport that is good for your physical and mental health, and a great alternative to standard forms of exercise like running or cycling.

– Stand Up Paddleboarding

Stand Up Paddleboarding, commonly known as SUP, is a fantastic watersport in Ireland that is suitable for both young and old, and is also relatively easy to learn, making it one of the top family activities on the water.

You can either SUP on calm, lake waters or take things up a notch by getting out on water rapids or hitting the waves in the sea!

If you’re a mindful person who likes to go on relaxing paddles and take in the beautiful natural surroundings that the lakes or rivers on the island of Ireland have to offer, then SUPing is a great choice. For that reason, we reckon it is one of the best outdoor activities in Ireland!

– Windsurfing

the best water sports ireland

Looking for an adrenaline-fuelled watersport that is an exciting activity for teenagers, older people and young kids alike? It sounds like you would enjoy windsurfing!

Prepare yourself to get wet with this water activity! This thrilling hybrid of surfing and sailing will see you learn how to judge the wind to power your board across the water.

We doubt you will find a more exhilarating, skill-based water activity in Northern Ireland or Ireland than windsurfing – if you do, let us know in the comments!

– Sailing

water activities fermanagh

Sailing is a very technical watersport that when mastered is one of the best ways to navigate open waters.

There are many different types of sailing such as keelboat or dinghy sailing, and with a little bit of tuition, anyone can learn to use the wind to glide across the water and take in the wonderful views of our green shores and sandy beaches.

Sailing lessons are available at many clubs and centres across Ireland and it is possible to gain RYA qualifications in the sport.

– Swimming

indoor water sports ireland

Swimming is the ideal water activity to do with kids because you can do it all year round and does not take as much skill as a paddlesport, for example.

From leisure centres and hotels to outdoor pools and open lakes, you are never going to be stuck for options to go for a swim. This is the ideal indoor activity for kids in the winter months and is a fantastic form of exercise that increases core, upper-body, lower-body and cardiovascular strength.

– Canoeing

relaxing water sports northern ireland

Canoeing is definitely one of the most popular and best water sports Ireland has to offer because, a lot like kayaking, sessions are available in so many locations, lots of places hire out canoes and it is very easy to learn how to paddle.

All you need is a paddle and your buoyancy aid, and off you go on an adventure on any of the rivers or lakes around the country!

Canoeing is also a brilliant team building activity outdoors for any workforces or sports teams to help encourage teamwork, leadership and for a bit of fun.

– Surfing

adrenaline junkie water activities in ireland

If you’re a thrill-seeker and would prefer to leave the inland waterways and get out in the sea, then surfing should suit you down to the ground.

Some of the best surf spots in Ireland are Rossnowlagh in County Donegal, Easkey in County Sligo, Inch in County Kerry or Carrowniskiey in County Mayo. Most of these locations are fantastic for beginners but there are also a lot of challenging waves for the experts!

– Wakeboarding

water adventures - wakeboarding

Another one for the adrenaline junkies! Standing on the wakeboard while being pulled behind through the wake and crest of a motorboat, wakeboarders can pull off stunning aerial manoeuvres to get the heart racing.

This crazy watersport has origins in surfing, water skiing and snowboarding – a pretty whacky combination! 

You can enjoy wakeboarding in quite a lot of places in NI or south of the border, both inland and out in the sea.

– Fishing

fermanagh fishing - water activity

Fishing is the ideal watersport for anyone young or old who are searching for a relaxing activity and wish to connect with nature.

Ireland has so many fishing options for beginners to professionals. From trout fly fishing and coarse fishing on a river to sea fishing (Ireland is one of the worlds premier sea angling destinations), you are spoilt for choice in our wee country!

Like many outdoor sports that help you connect with the great outdoors, there are a lot of health benefits to fishing such as reduced anxiety levels that come from being outdoors and connecting with wildlife.

For more information on fishing destinations, types of fish in Ireland or boat hire etc, head over to Angling Ireland.

– Water Parks

water parks ireland

You will find it tough to discover more fun water activities in Ireland than the buzz of spending a few hours of adventure on a water park!

Water Parks require no skill and only a basic level of swimming which makes it the ideal water activity for young kids and people without much water confidence.

Some of the super fun obstacles you can expect to take on include rock slides, wiggle bridges, towers, side-kicks and so much more!

A day out on a water park is perfect for those of you that just want a real good laugh and adrenaline rush without needing to learn a new skill.


Water sports in Ireland are hugely popular pastimes for tourists and locals alike, and it’s really not a surprise when there is so much easy access to waterways and coastlines.

Hopefully, this article has given you ideas when you are trying to figure out what watersport would be best for you to undertake while you are here.

There is plenty to choose from for people of all ages, abilities and interests, and we at Share Discovery Village are always here to help if you need any more information on what is available.

At Share Discovery Village we specialise in water activities and have highly experienced instructors on hand to teach you anything that you need to know.

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