Windsurfing is increasingly popular in Ireland, and some spots play host to vast flotillas of colorful sails and wet-suited windsurfers when conditions are good. Some of the best locations are in remote areas of the west coast, and those spots are rarely crowded. Windsurfing schools with boards for rent can be found in most regions of the country, with the greatest concentration on the southeast and southwest coasts.
In Dublin the most popular spot is Dollymount Beach; Salthill, behind Dún Laoghaire Harbour, is another good choice. In the Southeast, try Brittas Bay (County Wicklow), Cahore (County Wexford), and Rosslare (County Wexford). Dunmore East (County Waterford), Dungarvan (County Waterford), and Cobh (County Cork) are good in the south. The most challenging waves and winds are in the west, at Brandon Bay on the Dingle Peninsula, Roundstone in Galway, Achill Island in Mayo, and Magheroarty and Rossnowlagh in Donegal.
Because even skilled windsurfers spend a sizable portion of their time in the water, the water quality is surely a concern. The Republic of Ireland has 27 designated European Union Blue Flag beaches and marinas, and Northern Ireland has 12. To find a complete listing or to check out a particular beach in advance, go to www.blueflag.org.
Equipment rental and lessons are widely available on Ireland's coasts and lakes. Try the following centers: the Surfdock Centre, Grand Canal Dock Yard, Ringsend, Dublin 4 (tel. 01/668-3945; www.surfdock.ie); the Dunmore East Adventure Centre, Dunmore East, County Waterford (tel. 051/383783; www.dunmoreadventure.com); the Oysterhaven Centre, Oysterhaven, Kinsale, County Cork (tel. 021/477-0738; www.oysterhaven.com); and, in the North, Craigavon Watersports Centre, 1 Lake Rd., Craigavon, County Armagh (tel. 028/3834-2669; www.craigavonactivity.org).
If kite surfing is your thing, check out the website www.kitesurfing.ie. It offers advice on where to buy or rent boards, the best locations, and weather conditions, and it also hooks you up with other kite surfers.
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.