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This sport has always been popular with the natives -- and no wonder, considering the island's 5,603km (3,472 miles) of coastline, plus its numerous lakes and rivers.

In particular, the coastline provides year-round superb sea-kayaking waters, some of which are remote, with spectacular scenery. In a sea kayak, the wonders of the Irish coast can be investigated up close. You'll find caves, tiny inlets, out-of-the-way cliffs, and reefs inhabited by abundant seabirds, colorful crustaceans, seals, and the occasional dolphin. Many islands are within easy reach of the mainland, and with experience and good conditions, a sea kayaker can reach any of Ireland's island outposts.

A number of adventure centers offer kayaking lessons, and a few schools are devoted solely to kayaking. For those new to the sport or unfamiliar with the Irish coast, a guided excursion is the best option.

Kayaking Resources

For a rich source of information about kayaking in Ireland, visit the Irish Canoe Union website at www.canoe.ie.

Courses and day trips for all levels of experience are available from Deep Blue Sea Kayaking (tel. 086/820-5627; www.deepblueseakayaking.com) and Shearwater Sea Kayaking (tel. 086/836-8736 or 087/988-5658; www.shearwaterseakayaking.ie). Although kayaking is mainly a summer activity, the latter also runs special winter excursions to the Skerries and Lambay Island in Dublin Bay. Kayaking vacations are also available at Delphi Mountain Resort, Leenane, County Galway (tel. 095/42208; www.delphimountainresort.com).

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.