Where to Paddle
Overview
Flat Water
Sea Kayaking
White Water
Kayak Surfing
Be sure to also check out the Canoe Trails section for more paddling locations.

Sea Kayaking

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Ballycastle to Cushendall

DescriptionRounding Fair Head must be one of the most spectacular pieces of coastal paddling that Northern Ireland has to offer. Tides are fierce and downdraughts can be vicious in windy weather. Tides rattle around Tor Head and there are eddies of eddies in this area!! Tor Head is the shortest distance from Scotland and a good place to paddle from. However, tides need to be carefully calculated as they are powerful through the North Channel
Access PointsBallycastle Harbour GR:122 415 Cushendun GR: 251-335 Cushendall carpark at the North end of the beach GR: 242-281.

Bangor to Portavogie

DescriptionWhile the coastal paddling may not be the most inspiring in this area the off lying islands again provide wonderful paddling. The Copeland islands off Donaghadee are abundant in wildlife and tide races. Seals, porpoises and sea birds are plentiful around these islands. However, a trip to these islands needs to involve careful tidal planning as they are notorious for catching paddlers out. Tides run very hard of the North West point of Copeland Island and off the South East side of Mew Island with races and turbulent water forming. The Coast between Bangor and Portavogie is pleasant enough paddling with rocky reefs and islets breaking up the journey. Tides continue to be fairly strong although weakening further South
Access PointsBangor Harbour GR:505-822 Ballyholme GR: 524-825 Groomsport GR: 537-836 Donaghadee carpark and slipway just W of the harbour: GR 588-803. Millisle GR: 600-754 Ballywalter GR: 629-687 Portavogie Gr: 661-593

Belfast Lough

DescriptionLeast interesting place to paddle in Northern Ireland. However, there are some interesting features around the Lough such as Carrickfergus Castle and Greypoint. Paddling into Belfast Harbour is not to be recommended as it is a busy shipping Port and contact should be made with the Port Authorities before entering.

Carlingford Lough

DescriptionCarlingford Lough is certainly the most dramatic sea lough on the East coast of Ireland with the Mourne Mountains to the North and the craggy Carlingford Mountain to the South. The South side of the Lough is in the Republic of Ireland while the North side is in Northern Ireland. The tidal streams within the lough are weak, however during strong WNW winds, squalls are funneled from the hills around Rostrevor and cause little cyclones which are known locally as "Kettles. Tides run strongly at the entrance Lough with Onshore winds on the ebb throwing up fearsome sea states. 3.5 knots is achieved in springs in the dredged approach channels. Overfalls and races occur during both the flood and the ebb around the Haulbowline Lighthouse and pleasant, relatively safe playing in these overfalls can be had during the flood tide.
Access PointsCranfield GR: 265-106 Rostrevor Quay GR:183-175

Cushendall to Larne

DescriptionThe paddling between Cushendall and Larne is not so dramatic as the North Coast although the strength of the tide continues to be a feature. The coastal scenery now consists of raised beaches with the road running beside the coast the whole way to Larne. However, the Maidens islands which are two small lighthouse islands located just off Ballygalley provide very interesting paddling. Tides run strongly past the Maidens and there is the added hazard of the fast ferry service to Scotland from Larne. Tweed's Port is a good launching point for a trip to the Maidens
Access PointsWaterfoot GR: 242-255 Carnlough GR: 287181 Glenarm GR: 309-154 Ballygalley GR: 375-078 Tweeds Port GR: 386070

Downhill to Portrush

DescriptionThe cliffs to the East of Downhill are basalt with some caves and arches. To the East is the Bar Mouth, where the river Bann flows into the sea. Very turbulent conditions are found off the Bar Mouth especially on the ebb tide. These overfalls can extend quite a distance off-shore. Tidal currents run hard off Portstewart Harbour and entry to the harbour can be difficult in heavy seas. There is good cliff scenery and rock hopping between Portstewart and Portrush.
Access PointsThe East end of Downhill Strand GR: 753-362 Castlerock village GR: 766-365 Slip at Portnahapple GR: 813-376 Portrush West Bay & harbour GR: 855-407 Portandoo harbour also provides good access GR: 857-413

Larne to Whitehead

DescriptionLarne does not have great access and is a heavily used Port It is much better to launch to the North or South of it. Port Muck is a wonderful little harbour that has a West of Ireland feel to it. This section of coast is called The Gobbins and is very pleasant paddling. Muck island is worth paddling round although the tide runs hard off the island creating turbulent conditions on both the flood and the ebb. Landing can be affected at Whithead at the harbour
Access PointsBrown's bay GR: 437-028 Port Muck GR: 460-024 Whitehead GR: 478-921

Lough Foyle

DescriptionThere are strong tides in the Lough of up 3.5 knots and the beaches on the Benone side are exposed to surf. The Donegal shore is the more interesting especially as you get towards Inishowen Head GR: 685-438.
Access PointsPrehen Boathouse GR: 428-154 Londonderry Slipway GR: 716-363

Newcastle to Kilkeel

DescriptionFrom Newcastle town to Cranfield Point GR: 270-099, the coastline is dominated by the scenery of the nearby Mourne Mountains and is made up of rocky beaches and small cliffs. From Newcastle to Bloody Bridge the coastline is interesting and provides enjoyable rock dodging, particularly at high water, when many of the caves and channels become more accessible. Kilkeel is one of Northern Ireland's busiest fishing ports with up to 70 boats using the harbour.
Access PointsNewcastle harbour GR: 380-297 Annalong Gr: 378-198 Kilkeel GR: 316-140

Portavogie to Strangford

DescriptionThe Coast begins to get more interesting again and tidal streams pick up as you head towards the Narrows. South Rock is an interesting paddle although again strong tides again run North/South past the rocks. The Lough itself is guarded by Strangford Narrows through which a vast river of water rushes through at speeds of up to 7.5 knots. Overfalls and turbulent water are found around the Angus Rock and also at the Routen Wheel just off Rue Point. The Bar Mouth can produce truly enormous standing waves during the ebb when there is any swell from the South.
Access PointsCloghy GR: 636-558 Kearney GR: 640-513 Strangford GR: 589-496

Portrush to Dunseverick

DescriptionRamore Head and Skerries Sound, contains strong tides which produce turbulent conditions especially on the ebb. The Skerries lie about 1 nautical mile NE of Portrush. The paddling is spectular under the limestone cliffs of the Whiterocks and the black basalt on which Dunluce Castle is built. Caves arches and stacks are abundant along this coastline. From Portballintrae to Dunsevrick the paddling continues to inspire with the Giants Causeway and Benbane and Bengore Heads. Little landing can be found along this coast with an exception being Port Moon GR: 979-451 to the East of Bengore Head. Tides run very strongly past Bengore Head.
Access PointsPortrush Harbour GR:855-407 Portandoo Harbour GR: 857-413 Whiterocks GR: 885-408 Portballintrae Harbour GR: 927-421 Dunsevrick Harbour GR: 999-445

Rathlin Island

DescriptionRathlin is a very committing paddle as it is bounded with strong tide races and often is exposed to large Atlantic swells. However, the coastal scenery is unsurpassed and a trip around it (normally undertaken clockwise due to tidal streams) is a memorable experience. Camping is possible in Church Bay but more secluded on the East side at Illancarragh Bay
Access PointsChurch Bay GR: 148-509

Strangford Lough

DescriptionThe East coast of the Lough has a lot less of interest to the canoeist than the West due to the lack of islands. However, at "The Dorn" GR: 593-568, there is a spectacular marine waterfall at the start of the ebb. The West side of the lough is a fascinating maze of submerged drumlin hills forming over 100 islands and rock pladdies. Salt Island GR: 532-500 and Taggart Island GR: 533-545 are owned by the National Trust who permits camping on both these islands. Between Taggart and Mahee Island GR: 530-636 almost 5 nautical miles to the North lie the "basket of eggs" - dozens of little islands which are excellent for night navigation as they are sheltered and safe. Tides can run at about 1- 2 knots during springs in a North/South direction between some of the islands. To the West and North of Rainey Island GR: 527-630, two channels exist where the tide runs either side of the island at up to 5 knots. North of Mahee Island holds little of interest to the canoeist, as large expanses of mudflats exist in this area.
Access PointsStrangford GR: 589-496 Portaferry GR: 591-508 Killyleagh GR: 530-525 Ringhaddy GR: 536-584 (Parking is a problem) Whiterock GR: 526-617 Sketrick GR: 524-627 Kircubbin GR: 595-631

Strangford to Newcastle

DescriptionKillard Point GR: 613-435 Sheet 29, a National Nature Reserve, is well worth a visit from the kayaker, especially in June to see the abundance of butterflies and wild flowers. 1 nautical mile South of the entrance to Strangford Lough lies Guns Island. Ballyhornan to St.John's Point is a lovely paddle along small cliffs and a rocky shore. For 1 nautical mile to the South and 2 nautical miles to the North of the entrance to Dundrum inner bay, care must be taken due to the rifle range at the army camp at Ballykinler. There are 3 yellow marker buoys marked DZ and the paddler should keep to the seaward side of these. Within the inner bay at Dundrum, there is a causeway and bridge GR: 402-355. The tide flows through this bridge at up to 6 knots on and good eddies are created by the bridge stanchions. This is used regularly at high water by paddlers to teach and practice moving water techniques.
Access PointsKilcief castle GR: 598-458 Ballyhornan GR: 593-418 Ardglass GR: 560-373 Killough GR: 540-362
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