County Wexford’s beaches at Courtown, Curracloe, Duncannon, and Rosslare are good for walking, jogging, and swimming.
Bird and Wildlife Watching
Besides the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve ★, bird-watchers head for Hook Head, a good spot in spring and autumn for watching the passerine migration. In addition to swallows, swifts, and warblers, look out for the less common cuckoos, turtledoves, redstarts, and blackcaps.
In May, June, and July, Great Saltee Island is excellent for watching seabirds, as the island’s southern cliffs become mobbed with nesting birds and their young. Plentiful species include puffins, which nest in underground burrows, as well as graceful guillemots, cormorants, kittiwakes, gannets, and Manx shearwaters. The island is privately owned, but visitors are welcome so long as they do not disturb the bird habitat and the island's natural beauty. You can usually charter a boat to the Saltees from the Kilmore Quay; alternatively, try Sailing Ireland (www.sailingireland.ie; 053/913-9163 or 086/171-3800). Landings generally take place only in summer, and not in rough weather. Kilmore Quay Angling (www.kilmoreangling.com; 087/213-5308) offers an “eco-cruise” around the Saltee Islands, to see seals and birds (without landing) for €20 adults, €10 children.
From Wexford, the road north up the coast through Curracloe to Blackwater is a scenic day trip. You can rent mountain bikes in Wexford Town at Hayes Cycle Shop, 108 S. Main St. (www.hayescycles.com; 053/912-2462).
The Kilmore Quay area, south of Wexford Town, offers some of the most spectacular diving in Ireland, especially around the Saltee Islands and Conningbeg rocks. There are wrecks off the coast that can be visited to depths of around 60 meters (200 feet). For all your diving needs, consult the Pier House Diving Centre, Kilmore Quay (053/29703; email firstname.lastname@example.org).
In recent years, Wexford has blossomed as a golfing venue. One of the newest developments is an 18-hole championship seaside par-72 course at St. Helens Bay Golf Club, Kilrane (053/913-3234; www.sthelensbay.com). Greens fees in high season are €45 on weekdays, €60 on weekends. Tennis courts and luxury cottages are available. The Enniscorthy Golf Club, Knockmarshall, Enniscorthy (054/923-3191; www.enniscorthygc.ie), is an inland par-70 course with greens fees of €30 on weekdays, €40 on weekends.
Horetown House, Foulksmills (051/565633), offers riding lessons by the hour or in a variety of packages that include meals and lodging. Refurbished in 2007, this is one of the better residential equestrian centers in Ireland; it caters particularly to families and children. For more experienced riders, lessons in jumping and dressage are available. Training in hunting and admission to the hunt can also be arranged. Riding costs around €25 per hour; accommodations start at €100 for a double room, including an organic breakfast.
The town of Kilmore Quay, south of Wexford Town on R739, is a center for sea angling in Wexford. The most popular rivers for fishing are the Barrow and the Slaney, where the sea trout travel upstream from mid-June to the end of August. Blackwater Anglers (053/912-7318) offer fishing on a lake stocked with rainbow and brown trout from April to December. Dick Hayes runs Harbour Thrills (085/732-9787), which runs boat trips, including journeys to and from Kilmore Quay.
Along the entire coastline you'll see brown signs with a picture of a hiker on them, marking the Wexford Coastal Pathway, which meanders along the coast via pristine beaches and country lanes—and, unfortunately, some stretches of busy roads. At the north end, however, there’s a peaceful beach walk from Clogga Head (County Wicklow) to Tara Hill, 14km (8 miles) south, ending with panoramic views from atop Tara Hill. South of Wexford town, there’s another good section from Rosslare Harbour around Carnsore Point to Kilmore Quay.
Another good coastal walk is near Wexford town in the Raven Nature Reserve, an area of forested dunes and uncrowded beaches. To get there, take R741 north out of Wexford, turn right on R742 to Curracloe village, and at Curracloe turn right to drive just over a mile to the beach parking lot. The nature reserve is to your right. By car it’s a half-mile south, but you can also walk there along the beach. It’s 5km (3 miles) to Raven Point, where at low tide you can see the remains of a shipwreck, half-buried in the sand.
On the border between counties Wexford and Carlow, the long, rounded ridge of peaks are the Blackstairs Mountains, which allow for plenty of walks in an area unspoiled by tourism. Get a guidebook and maps from any sizable Wexford tourist office.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.