Insider Tips

Dublin’s aquatic adventures from cruises to kayaks

By Visit Dublin

18th May 2021

Dublin is a city built on canals, rivers and bays and nautical history runs through the capital’s veins. What better way to unlock this heritage than sightseeing waterside or trying your hand at the city’s water sports? For the adventurous visitor, there are numerous ways to explore the local waterways by boat, raft, kayak or kiteboard. Prefer to kick back and relax? Try out a Dublin cruise tour. Pick your experience and get ready to enjoy the thrills and spills of this unique side of the city.

Dublin Discovered Boat Tour

Start off at a relaxed pace and join a Dublin Discovered Boat Tour. The iconic ‘big red boat’ departs from Bachelor’s Walk on the River Liffey, right in the heart of the city. Take in scenes of Ireland’s past as you float under O’Connell Bridge, past Liberty Hall and the Custom House and head into the Docklands. This tour has storytelling at its heart, and the boat’s open plan and glass roof ensure that you’ll see all the sights in a new way.

Big Style Paddle-Boarding

Balance is the key to Big Style’s stand-up paddle boarding school. They offer equipment hire and lessons from guided instruction for beginners to intermediate sessions for the more experienced. Based out of the picturesque Dún Laoghaire Marina, you can practice in the sheltered harbour under their watchful eye or set out on your own. Whether you’re a newbie or an old hand, this is one of the most leisurely ways to see the coastline of the city and learn about Dublin’s maritime history.

City Kayaking

Even first timers will find City Kayaking a breeze. Journey down the River Liffey on a 4km trip as you depart from Custom House Quay beside the Jeanie Johnston famine ship. This kayak tour is the only way to actually paddle under the famous O’Connell and Ha’penny bridges. If you’re looking for something a little different, their music tours showcase songs and spoken word on the water.

Dublin Bay Cruises

Cruise along the Dublin Bay coastline to see some of the city’s charming villages including Howth, Dún Laoghaire, Malahide and Dalkey. Dublin Bay Cruises takes in a plethora of Irish cultural and natural landmarks including the Martello Tower of the James Joyce Museum, the unspoilt beauty of Ireland’s Eye and impressive Howth Head. For keen wildlife fans, keep an eye out for seals and otters. began life as the brainchild of a small group of rafting experts and enthusiasts. It’s since blossomed into a thriving community of thrill seekers using the Liffey as their playground. Join an exhilarating tour downriver through the picturesque Strawberry Beds, an area sitting between the villages of Chapelizod and Lucan, taking in wildlife like herons and egrets as pheasants call from nearby fields. Upstream, a more urban landscape unfolds as the buildings and bridges of Dublin come into view.

The Old Liffey Ferry

Voyage into the past and get a glimpse of Dublin’s nautical heritage. First chartered in 1665, the ferry was once a familiar sight from the riverbanks, taking passengers back and forth to work and school. Over three centuries later, the original Old Liffey Ferry was decommissioned in 1984 when the East Link Bridge opened. But you can still experience a slice of history with a trip aboard the refurbished Ferry No. 11. The service runs between the MV Cill Airne Pontoon (sitting on the Northside of the Liffey, not far from the Samuel Beckett Bridge) and the North Wall Quay Pontoon (which is directly outside the 3Arena) year round. 

Kitesurfing in Dublin

With their brisk coastal breezes, Dublin’s beaches are the perfect place to try kitesurfing. Suitable for various wind directions and good in all seasons, conditions are ideal for fans of the sport. Experts like Pure Magic on Dollymount Strand in Clontarf and Dún Laoghaire’s Big Style have all the kit and safety knowledge you’ll need to take flight on a kite. See Dublin from an unbeatable vantage point, as you use the power of the wind to fly across the surface of the sea.


Explore Dublin City

Now that we’ve given you an overview of the fantastic aquatic experiences to enjoy, it’s time to make it happen. Discover more things to do in Dublin.

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