This exhilarating sport was only introduced to Ireland in the last 20 years but has a growing number of dedicated followers.
Enthusiasts use inflatable kites to propel themselves and their board across the water. For experts the possibilities are awe-inspiring: the current kitesurf speed record is over 100km/h, and the highest recorded jump is almost 25m.
It’s a thrilling activity suited to fit people, but there are also technical and safety considerations that make instruction necessary for beginners.
Pure Magic (puremagic.ie; 01 805 4912) can teach you all you need to know to get going. Sessions are based in either Clontarf, Dublin, or Achill Island, Mayo. A three-hour introductory session is €130, while a full, 12-hour foundation course is €425.
The Achill location also offers accommodation, from €45, delicious food, and starts first-timers off on the shallow waters of Keel Lake before heading for the trickier waters of the open sea.
Ireland is home to some of the best surfing in Europe, with hundreds of quality breaks ranging from beginner-friendly beaches to world-renowned big waves.
Whatever your level, zooming along the face of an ocean swell provides simple yet addictive fun. In calmer conditions, stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is an equally pleasurable way to enjoy the water and coastline.
The four dominant surf towns around Ireland are Portrush, Bundoran, Lahinch and Tramore, and all have good surf and SUP schools. For something more exotic, Blackfield Watersports (blackfield.com; 089 422 1553, pictured) is based on Mayo’s Achill Island.
It offers surf lessons (€35) and week-long surf camps (€120), as well as SUP trips along the Atlantic coast (€40).
If you’ve ever enjoyed snorkelling, full scuba diving could be something you’ll love. The extra breathing apparatus means you can go deeper and stay submerged for longer, discovering a wider diversity of wildlife.
Ireland boasts a host of intriguing dive sites, from simple shore dives in sheltered harbours, to spectacular outings and remote underwater outcrops.
If you’re a beginner, you’ll need an introductory course. Scubadive West Ireland (scubadivewest.com; 095 43922) is a great place to learn. It’s located in beautiful Connemara, and offers a four-day PADI Open Water Diver course for €699, as well as day trips, wreck explores and island “safaris” .
Wind and water are two elements Ireland has in abundance, making this a perfect place to learn how to sail.
Whatever your level of expertise, there’s an inescapable thrill as the breeze fills the sail and your boat accelerates through the water for the first time.
There are sailing venues all around the country, ranging from sheltered inland lakes to exposed Atlantic coastlines.
The largest provider of sailing courses is the Irish National Sailing and Powerboat School (inss.ie; 01 284 4195), based in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin. They offer a range of courses for both adults and children, with a weekend course for adult beginners, at €299 per person.
It used to be known as just “swimming”. Not anymore. Open-water swimming Is the biggest positive trend to come out of lockdown. And why not – it’s free, invigorating and sociable, as groups of daily dippers meet up to take to the water together.
If you’re ready for the next stage, sign up for coaching to focus on improving your stroke with Swim Ireland’s Beach to Buoy or Open Water Skills courses (meandthewater.ie) at 80 sea spots across Ireland (see right), or sign on at Dublin-based Swim Camp (swimcamp.ie), which runs open water clinics, camps and private coaching for adults and children.
And if you’ve yet to catch the bug, try their four-week adult beginner’s course, €120.
Our long coastline offers plenty of beauty spots, beaches and sea caves, and coasteering is one of the most adrenaline-fuelled ways to explore it.
You tog up in wetsuit and helmet and hurl yourself off crags into the sea, swim through caves and scale rocks, all the while keeping an eye out for residents such as seals, dolphins and porpoises.
Extreme Sports Ireland (extremesports.ie) offer trips with an experienced guide who has local knowledge of tides and weather conditions, offers a safety briefing before you take off, and will lead you on a thrilling expedition over blowholes and cliffs.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly outing, contact Nevsail Watersports (nevsailwatersports.ie; 086 3308236) in Co Clare, pictured.