Water sports and activities in Ireland

There are a whole range of activities you can take up in the water

Written by spunout


Ireland is a great country for taking up a water sport or activity. Water surrounds us, and there are a number of lakes, rivers, and canals all across the country where you can take part in activities.

If you are planning on taking up a water sport, make sure you’re aware of water safety, and avoid taking risks in the water.

Water sports and activities in Ireland

Whether you want to stick to the indoors or you like to get outside and take in the fresh air, there are so many options in Ireland when it comes to water activities.


Swimming is easy on your joints, so is a perfect way to get some exercise if you have an injury or mobility issues. You can swim in either a team or as an individual.

Swim for 30 minutes, and try a combination of different strokes during that time. If you want to, you could join a swim club and try competitive swimming too.

If you don’t know how to swim, it’s never too late to learn. Many swimming pools offer swimming lessons for beginners of all ages – check with your local swimming pool to see what your options are.

If you choose to swim in the sea or a lake, make sure you stay safe.


Kayaking is a versatile sport, with lots of different activities to choose from. You can go sightseeing in a kayak, go into the sea, go kayaking on white water rapids, or take part in kayaking competitions.

For some of the more adventurous activities like kayaking in rapids, you may need a helmet and nose plugs.

Whatever you’re into, kayaking can be a really fun way to get some exercise. Learn more about kayaking here.


Canoeing is similar to kayaking, but the design of the boat and paddles are different. Canoes are usually more suited to calmer activity, and canoeing is great for paddling around slow-moving water like lakes or canals. However, there are some canoes that are designed for white water rapids, so you could still fulfill your sense of adventure.

Learn more about canoeing here.


Rowing uses the whole body from your legs, to your torso, to your arms, with most of the power coming from your legs. There are two oars attached to the sides of the boat, and the seats in most rowing boats slide forward and back as you push your legs to make the movement.

Rowing is an excellent way to get a full body workout as it works every muscle group in the body, especially the legs.

Find out how to get started here.


Surfing involves riding a moving wave in the sea while standing up on a surfboard. It can be a real thrill, and there are some great locations all over Ireland where you can surf. It’s also great for improving strength in your legs, your core, and your shoulders and back.

If you’re new to surfing, take some lessons before you get out there. You want to make sure you can enjoy yourself while staying safe, because the water can be unpredictable. With a few lessons, the right gear, and strong swimming skills, you should be able to ride the waves in no time.


Wakeboarding involves holding onto a rope while standing on a board, and being pulled through the water by a motorboat. Moving through the water at a high speed can be really fun, especially for people who like an adrenaline rush. Many people also do flips and tricks in the air while holding onto the rope.

Wakeboarding exercises the whole body, from arm muscles with holding the rope, to leg and core muscles from staying upright on the board, as well as improving flexibility and hand-eye coordination.


Windsurfing is a form of sailing that involves standing up on a surfboard and using a sail to alter your direction with the wind. This means that you don’t need waves to go windsurfing, you can do it on any type of water so long as you can use the wind to move across the water.

Windsurfing can be great for strengthening your core muscles, improving your cardiovascular fitness (your heart), and burning calories.


Sailing uses the wind, with the help of sails, to move a sailboat across the water and navigate across a chosen course. Sailing teaches you a range of useful new skills – everything from tying knots, to navigating, to good practice regarding water safety. Find out more on Sailing.ie.

Water polo

Water polo is a team sport played in a swimming pool, where two teams attempt to score goals by throwing a ball into a net similar to a football net. The game is divided into four quarters, with seven players on each team.

Water polo is great for anyone who would like to take up a team sport at the same time as doing a water activity. It can be a great cardio workout, working every part of the body.

Find a club near you here.

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