I recently spent a little over a week in Ireland for a wedding. I nearly kicked myself for not planning any outdoor adventures, but my time was not my own. Ireland is ripe with hiking, climbing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and surfing opportunities.

I arrived in Dublin and drove straight to the coast (driving on the left side of the road takes a day or two to get use to). The sandy beaches of the southern coast of Ireland are a stark contrast to the high rocky cliffs I imagined encircling the island. The small cove of Dunemore East provided calm waters where many practiced their sailing, and a few paddled around on their stand-up paddle boards. The water was warmer than Oregon’s coastal waters (Ireland is in the path of the warm gulf currents that flow north from the Caribbean).

I traveled then to the western coast, spending the majority of my trip in the small surf town of Lehinch. The surfing here ranges from small waves perfect for learning (and indeed there are nearly a dozen surf schools for those interested in giving it a try) to one of the most sought after waves in the world, Aileens.
A few kilometers north of Lehinch are the stunning Cliffs of Moher. The rock climbing options here are stunning, but relatively inaccessible. More established climbs are available still further north outside of Ailladie. Ireland has a relatively well established and accessible climbing routes.
I was also impressed with the accessibility for hiking/trekking across the country. Privately held land is largely considered public friendly. Most locals are happy to let you camp in their fields if you just ask. There are few (if any) “No Trespassing” signs, and the ones that you do see are there to comply with local land use laws, but are regarded by the land owners as an official way of saying “ask me first.”
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