Open water swimming is a great way to stay fit and explore the outdoor beauty of Ireland. Here are our favourite sea swimming spots in Ireland.
Ireland owes a lot of its rugged beauty to the constant battering it’s received from the Atlantic Ocean over the centuries. You can enjoy its impact first hand by diving in and enjoying open water swimming. This activity has really grown in popularity in recent years and it offers a great way to get out and embrace mother nature all year round. While open water swimming also covers lakes and rivers, we’ve decided to focus on the sea here.
Check out our top sea swimming spots here:
1. The Forty Foot, Dublin
One of the best known and most popular on our list, The Forty Foot draws crowds all year round. You can find people swimming off this rocky outcrop from 4am every morning in all conditions. It’s easy to reach from the city centre via commuter trains. The Martello tower that overlooks Forty Foot features in the opening chapter of Ulysses and hosts a James Joyce museum, even if the author only lived there for a week. The brave among you may also want to join the congregation that tackles the Irish sea on Christmas Day.
2. Kerin’s Hole, County Clare
The closest town to Kerin’s Hole is Milton Malbay and it is a spot beloved to the local residents. When the Atlantic finally wore down the access point to the pool locals worked hard to raise the money needed for the steps to be rebuilt. The pool is popular most evenings and is a picturesque location to take a dip. White Strand is also nearby and offers another spot to swim in.
3. Vico, Dublin
Just a few kilometres around the coast from the Forty Foot is the Vico. Considerably quieter than its neighbour, Vico has long been the choice of local naturists but fear not, those in togs are most welcome too. Once you’ve made it down the steep steps to the waterfront you’ll be greeted by a deep, inky water that offers serenity just an hours drive from the capital. As you swim you’ll be able to look across to the mansions on Sorrento Terrace and those lucky enough might also spot the resident porpoise.
4. Salthill, Galway
Impossible to miss, the Blackrock diving tower juts out into the Atlantic acting as a beacon for swimmers young and old in Galway. Built in 1954, the tower wasn’t open to women until the 1970s. The tower and surrounding sea can get very busy during the summer months so perhaps one to avoid if you’re looking for somewhere more secluded.
5. Carrick-a-Rede, County Antrim
The kilometre long swim between Larrybane Bay and Carrick-a-Rede Island is one of the most dramatic swims in Ireland. You’ll be able to hear the screams and shouts of tourists overhead as they cross the famous rope bridge to the island as you make the bracing swim below. Due to the rocky outcrops and tidal currents this is one for more advanced swimmers.
6. Pollock Holes, Kilkee
The Holes are well known to locals for reasons which will come clear once you’ve traversed the rocks down to the water. They are a large network of tidal pools that are crystal clear and teaming with wildlife – including the fish that give them their name. Because of their nature you’ll need to time your visit to coincide with high tide.
7. Aughrus Pier, Connemara, Co Galway
Nestled in Claddaghduff in the heart of Connemara, Aughrus pier is a gem of a sea swimming spot. With the option of easing yourself in gently from the beach or taking a run and jump into the clear waters of the Atlantic from the pier itself, the calm waters of Aughrus Bay is the perfect place to soak up the surrounding scenery. More often than not you will also have the place to yourself, even on a warm summer’s evening.
Aughrus pier is located in Claddaghduff and is well signposted from the road. Parking is available on the pier itself.
8. Solomon’s Hole, The Hook, Co Wexford
Solomon’s Hole at Hook Head in Co Wexford is a natural salt-water pool located a 300m walk south of Slade harbour. Completely surrounded by rock, it is an oasis for swimmers in the otherwise unpredictable waters around the Hook. This swimming spot is definitely at its best at high tide when the sea is not too rough.
9. Badger’s Cove, Dunmore East, Co Waterford
Dunmore East is a haven for swimming enthusiasts. With a host of inviting bathing spots to choose from, including ladies’ and mens’ coves, we reckon Badger’s Cove is arguably one of the best. Steep steps lead their way to a small sandy cove which is backed by imposing cliffs and a cave. Adventurous souls can swim out of the cove, where an abundance of rocks, ranging in height, are begging to be jumped off.
10. Annagh Bay, Achill Island, Co Mayo
Tucked away, completely out of sight, Annagh Bay has to be one of the most breath-taking swimming spots in Ireland. Sitting adjacent to Ireland’s lowest corrie, with its white sand and turquoise waters there are few places on the planet more inviting!! The only drawback is that the bay can only be accessed via foot – it’s about a 1.5hour hike over the hill to get there! But with stunning views throughout, the hike in only makes the entire experience more special!
11. Portocloy, Co Mayo
While the picture-perfect beach at Portocloy would be worthy of a place on this list, there is a swimming place even more awe-inspiring just a short distance up the coast. As you drive away from the beach to the small harbour you will see signposts for a walking route. Just beyond these signposts, you will see a gentle waterfall flowing off the emerald green land into the vibrant waters below – it is pure paradise!
12. Belmullet Tidal Pool, Co Mayo
We don’t see many tidal pools in Ireland, which is a pity when you see the impressive pool at Belmullet. Located on the coastal road outside the town, the pool here is about 20m long with a smaller pool adjacent to it which is perfect for smaller kids. The pool is easily accessed thanks to human intervention in the form of ladders at either end. A lifeguard hut and portaloos are also present.
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