Sea Kayaking the Coast of Northern Ireland

4-minute read + 2 short videos

Aqua Bound Ambassador Ken Whiting takes us to Northern Ireland where he sea kayaks three unique locations along the coast. As always, he finds a couple of local experts to guide him for an immersive adventure.

Ken Whiting kayaks Northern Ireland's Causeway Coast

(Photo courtesy of Ken Whiting @GoPaddle)

Ken doesn’t limit his visits to simply being on the water, though. There’s so much to do and see in this small section of the UK that’s rich in beauty, culture and history.

In these two videos, Ken takes us along to a couple of different areas of Northern Ireland that offer uniquely different sea kayaking experiences.

Sea Kayaking the Causeway Coast

Ken’s first stop is Darry, on the northwest corner of Northern Ireland. Derry is a historic walled city—one of the few left in Europe—that offers ideal access to the famous Causeway Coast.

Before getting into their kayaks, though, Ken’s guide Lorcan from Far and Wild Adventures takes him on a Foodie Tour. Lorcan brings Ken to a couple of different eateries where they experience the local cuisine, which in turn is enhanced by the Irish environment Ken is experiencing for the first time. On one menu—squid tacos.

When it’s time to get into the water, Lorcan brings Ken to nearby Ballycastle as their launch spot. This famous area on the north side of the country is known as the Causeway Coast or Giant’s Causeway. The shoreline here is extremely dramatic with towering cliffs, sea caves, wildlife and constantly shifting ocean action.

Parts of the coast are accessible to beginning kayakers during the summer season. Other sections are wilder and rocky, ideal for expert sea kayakers who love rock-hopping. Ken and Lorcan enjoy their time adventuring among the rocks and waves.

“One thing you remember very quickly when paddling in the ocean with swell like this is how small you are and how big Mother Nature is!” says Ken.

Watch Sea Kayaking Northern Ireland: Episode 1 below:

Sea Kayaking Strangford Lough Canoe Trail

Ken heads to Northern Ireland’s east side near Belfast for his second video in the Kayaking Ireland series. He begins by taking the newly-renovated Gobbins Cliff Path hiking trail along the coast. This historic trail was first built in 1902 then fell into disrepair (and suffered damage from landslides) for several decades. It was re-opened for use in 2016.

Now a 1-mile out-and-back trail, the plan is to eventually complete a loop. Straddling the cliffs above the sea, Gobbins Cliff Path is a spectacular way to explore this coast.

John of Mobile Team Adventures is Ken’s guide to sea kayak Strangford Lough Canoe Trail. The Lough is calmer than the open sea, with its multiple islands for shelter, and it’s loaded with wildlife—marine birds, seals and sometimes dolphins. While it feels a lot like lake paddling, the tidal currents are always something to keep in mind.

The tidal range is about 3.5 meters so that adds complexity to kayaking the Lough. “You have to plan your route around low tide and high tide. Some of the areas will go completely dry and turn into mud flats,” says Ken.

Part of their kayak excursion included foraging for mussels. They accomplish that task first, then spend time kayaking the Lough, visiting Mahee Castle ruins and encountering some of the local wildlife. John is a trained chef and loves outdoor cooking, so he provided a cookout with the fresh mussels they had gathered combined with local produce and a creamy garlic whiskey sauce.

Ken says, “We all need more paddling buddies who are chefs! It elevates the whole experience.”

Watch Sea Kayaking Northern Ireland: Episode 2 below:

Learn more about these touring companies:

Here’s a map of Northern Ireland with Ken’s adventures marked:

Map of Northern Ireland with Ken's kayak trips marked

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