From sailing to surfing, Kinsale offers one of Ireland’s best opportunities for outdoor adventure. This small town has the perfect Irish charm, and is a great day trip from Cork.
If you’re looking for Irish adventures, Kinsale, Ireland, is calling your name. This tiny seaside town places you smack dab in the center of a painting. Kinsale’s vibrant streets are lined with rainbow-colored houses, and the emerald cliffs in the distance spill into a harbor full of bright, cheery sailboats.
When you’ve finished filling your memory card with scenic city shots, it’s time to wetsuit-up, because the water sports in Kinsale are extraordinary.
The rainy Irish climate may have you opting for pints at the pub over diving into the Atlantic, but if you’re a fan of The Wanderlost Way, you can have your Guinness and adventure after it, too (preferably in reverse order, because, ya know, safety things).
We took a two-hour surfing class at Garretstown Beach (15-minute cab ride from Kinsale), which gave us a good introduction into the world of Irish surfing. The waves were by no means intense, but we weren’t there to crush waves and take names. We wanted a little adventure on the Irish coast, and in addition to several (hundred) mouthfuls of salt water, that’s what we got.
By far, sea kayaking was the highlight of our day trip to Kinsale. The Irish countryside alone is stunning, but to gaze up high at the green cliffs while breathing in the fresh, briny ocean air at sea level, well that’s just euphoria for the senses.
Did I mention we got to cliff jump?
Or how about fly into the sea via rope swing?
Yeah, sea kayaking in southern Ireland is definitely a must for any adventurous travelers.
Sailing has always been on my bucket list, but for some reason it just never fell into place. Until Kinsale.
Visiting Kinsale was a last-minute decision for us, so we didn’t go into the trip with any reservations or plans. We showed up, went to the visitor center, grabbed a bunch of brochures on water sports and made some calls.
Fortunately, Kinsale has a harbor filled with sailboats, so we had no problem booking the morning-of. (This goes for sea kayaking and surfing, too.)
Sailing was an interesting way to see the Kinsale scenery. Interesting in a good way because I got to try something entirely new. Interesting in a bad way because, well, sailing is hard. When you’re steering the boat, there’s no “wait, let me get a shot of the cliffs from this angle”. It’s all eyes on the road, er, ocean.
If you’re going for the photography, bring along a friend so you can take shifts and share photos. If you’re going solely for the sailing experience, then you’re in for an interesting (again, in a good way!) ride.
Know before you go
If you’re heading to Kinsale for some water adventures, get a waterproof camera before the trip. We were taking photos like crazy while kayaking, and then my friend flipped her kayak and fell into the Atlantic.
Besides being absolutely hilarious, this sent chills down my spine … you can’t kill your camera in a country as beautiful as Ireland! She, fortunately, did have a waterproof camera that lived to tell our tales.
Kinsale is a perfect day trip from Cork in southern Ireland, and is absolutely a place I hope to revisit in the future.
Want more Ireland adventure? Check out my other favorite spots on the Emerald Isle!