January 29, 2023 9 min read

Get Paddle Boarding In Northern Ireland

Aerial view of a Northern Ireland city near a body of water

Northern Ireland is a land of raw beauty, strong culture, and incredible places to paddle board. The stunning Causeway coast will leave you breathless while the lively cities take your tastebuds on an adventure with the trendy emerging food scene. What could be better than a post-paddle refuel on delicious food?

As you are exploring the region, trying to find your next favorite place to paddle board in Northern Ireland, you will notice the road signs are in miles. Yes, that is right – Northern Ireland is in the United Kingdom, so things work slightly differently from the southern counterpart. 

Everyone from seasoned paddle boarding pros to beginners learning how to paddle board can have fun on Northern Ireland’s waters. Whether you are looking for a new after-work paddle spot or the best location for a weekend getaway, there will be somewhere perfect for you. 

Whatever your reasons, you are going to want to check out some of these incredible places to SUP in Northern Ireland. Some of these paddle boarding spots are also popular in the Northern Ireland wild swimming scene as well.

Best Places To SUP Near Belfast

Looking for places to paddle board around the Belfast area? Here are the best places to explore with a SUP close to Northern Ireland’s capital. The River Lagan also flows straight through the heart of the city.

Hollywood Sea Park

Sunset at Hollywood Sea Park

Hollywood Sea Park is one of the most loved beaches in the Belfast area. It is a great place for kids to enjoy the day with a decent playpark and a clean beach to get paddle boarding. Dogs are also welcome on this sandy stretch, so it is a great place to come if you want to take your dog paddle boarding as well!

There are bathroom amenities, free parking, and seating areas close to the beach. While all of this is what makes Hollywood Sea Park fantastic, it does also mean it gets busy in the summer months.

Lough Neagh

Huge crystal clear freshwater Lough Neagh

Lough Neagh is a huge freshwater lake just outside of Belfast. The flora and fauna around the water is vibrant, weaving in and out of historic castles and quiet shorelines. For the best wildlife watching, head to the southern banks of Lough Neagh – the Oxford Island Nature Reserve is simply breathtaking.

It is a popular lake for fishing, so why not incorporate this with paddle boarding and try SUP fishing out on the water? The calm waters are peaceful and relaxing. And due to the sheer size of this lake, it never seems to feel crowded, even on the busiest of days.

Carrickfergus Marina

Medieval Norman Castle in Carrickfergus Marina

The historic Carrickfergus Marina is a beautiful place to come with your paddle board for an afternoon. Either stay within the harbor walls or explore a little further out. From here, you can paddle up close and personal to the Carrickfergus Castle and Fisherman’s Quay, a historic landmark. 

There is also a good play park open for the kids in the Marina Gardens, not too far from the main marina. Here you will find plenty of cafes, restaurants, and bars, all great for a post-paddle visit!

Best Places To SUP The NI Coast

Escape to the Causeway Coast, one of Northern Ireland’s most beautiful natural landscapes. Rough and rugged, this coastline is sure to steal your heart and leave you wanting more.


Portmuck harbor, Islandmagee, Northern Ireland

If you are keen to get the perfect photo from your SUP trip to Northern Ireland, then you are going to want to head to the picturesque Islandmagee. This coastline offers an abundance of natural beauty and diverse wildlife. You can expect to see several species of marine birds, as well as dolphins and seals in the water. 

Portmuck Harbor and Browns Bay Beach are two hidden gems that are ideal to explore by paddle board.  Why not join a guided tour of the local area with Islandmagee SUP. The knowledgeable team will point out marine life, show you the famous Gobbins cliff path, and paddle you in front of the famous colored houses on the Whitehead promenade.

Cranfield Beach

Calm beach of Cranfield beach

Great for beginners and sunset lovers, Cranfield Beach offers flat water and often has light winds. What more could you ask for when mastering your balance skills? 

If you haven’t got your own SUP gear yet, or are looking for like-minded people to enjoy the water with, head over to Geology Rocks and join one of their many groups SUP activities. From special St. Patrick’s Day celebrations to SUP skills courses, these guys know their stuff and will make your time in Cranfield Beach amazing.


Man walking on a rede rope bridge, Carrick

Here is one for thrill seekers! Carrick-a-Rede’s famous rope bridge is a popular tourist attraction to tick off the list, so why not take a look at it from a different perspective? This unique section of the Causeway Coast is rugged with raw beauty. Paddle boarding in this spot takes experience and fitness, it is definitely not for the faint-hearted. 

To get to Carrick-a-Rede via SUP, you need to set off from Ballintoy Harbor. This takes around 45 minutes, so be sure to leave plenty of time for your round trip. You also need to factor in tide times and wind direction, while also keeping an eye on any sudden changes to the weather. 

Bangor Marina

Dog running at beach of Bangor Marina

Bangor’s Marina is an ideal place to try SUP yoga for the first time. The flat water and sheltered bay provide perfect conditions to test your skills and balance in a downward dog or a warrior pose. Check out SUP Hub NI to join in with one of the yogi events or even a SUP skills course available for booking.

As with any spot you choose to paddle board, you need to be aware of other people around you. Being a marina, you will encounter boats while paddle boarding here, with the larger boats creating a wake to watch out for. If you want a slightly more challenging paddle, head to the open water and paddle the coastline at Ballyholme Bay.


Beautiful rock formation at Portrush

Portrush is the surfing capital of Northern Ireland located on the Causeway Coast. You can escape the swell and enjoy a stand-up paddle boarding session in the protected harbor walls. Or, take on the challenge of SUP surfing and hit up the beach. The choice is yours!

Check out Portrush Surf School for SUP lessons, both group or private, hen and stag parties, and a unique giant SUP experience!

Donaghadee Harbor

Donaghadee Harbour and Lighthouse on the Ards Peninsula

Donaghadee Harbor has become a popular place for sea swimmers to enjoy the brisk thrill of the ocean. That means it is also a great place to go paddle boarding! The best spot to paddle is between the northern slipway and Kelly’s Steps further in the bay. 

The sheltered waters are ideal for beginners to try paddle boarding for the first time. This blue space is just outside of Bangor and is also accessible from Belfast for a day out. 

Best Places To SUP NI Lakes And Inland

Lakes are perfect for beginners to try paddle boarding for the first time. The calm waters are sheltered from strong winds, allowing you to focus on your technique and learn how to SUP.

Strangford Lough

Speed boat dock at Strangford Lough

Strangford Lough is a sheltered haven of calm flat waters and is the best place for beginners to learn how to SUP in Northern Ireland. You can explore the bays, inlets, small islands, and historic monuments all by paddle board. It provides a perfectly safe and fun paddle boarding experience for everyone. 

One of the most highly recommended paddle routes is around Mahee Island. You can spend hours exploring the nooks and crannies around the impressive Mahee Castle.

This is a beautiful place to visit all year round. However, the Fall season is fantastic for spotting unique wildlife on the shore from your SUP. You can also enjoy several walks around the Strangford Lough region, so be sure to bring your hiking boots along with your paddle board!

Castle Archdale Marina

Father with kids swimming on a paddle board on lake river

Castle Archdale is nestled in the heart of the popular Fermanagh tourist area. This spot is a favorite for families in the summer months. The marina offers flat and calm water that is often sheltered from the wind, ideal for the kids to get out on the paddle boards. 

You will find loads of other activities available around Castle Archdale Marine, like bike trails, historic landmarks, and forest trails. There is plenty to keep the whole family entertained at Castle Archdale.

Castlewellan Lake

Beautiful lake near Castlewellan, Northern Ireland

Castlewellan Lake is a suitable place for all abilities and ages to give paddle boarding a try. The sheltered waters are tranquil and sheltered from strong winds. Make sure you pack your waterproof camera! You are bound to want to snap a selfie in front of the impressive Castlewellan Castle.

From a SUP, you will have a fantastic vantage point to see some great sights, including Castlewellan Castle, otters, surrounding islands, native red squirrels, the Moorish Tower, and rare kingfishers.

Craigavon Lakes

Barn house sitting on the island at Craigavon Lake

The Craigavon Lakes are man-made lakes, separated by a rail line through the middle, but they do not lack any natural beauty. This is a scenic spot that is perfect to escape the world for a moment by SUP. Head to the South Lake for the best paddle boarding experience. 

South Lake Watersports Centre operates from here, offering SUP equipment rental, lessons, and group SUP pilates sessions. Pilates on the lake is great for creating a strong core, improving coordination and focus, and increasing overall balance and strength.

Best Places To SUP NI Rivers

If you are up for an adventure and want to see more of Northern Ireland, then you need to paddle the rivers. Meandering and teeming with wildlife, you can find sections suitable for any experience level of paddle boarder.

River Lagan

Lagan River in Belfast, Northern Ireland

The River Lagan is considered one of the best places to paddle board in Northern Ireland. It flows right through the heart of Belfast, giving you the opportunity to enjoy paddle boarding in the city. The River is divided into two sections:

  • Stranmillis Weir to Lagan Weir – suitable for beginner paddlers
  • Drum Bridge to Stranmillis Weir – suitable for more intermediate paddlers

Paddling under the historic Shaws Bridge is a must if you come here. When on the water, always paddle on the right-hand side and also pass on the right. This etiquette will keep you and other people safe while on the water. 

Launch sites onto the river are a combination of steps and pontoons. Using an inflatable stand up paddle board will help you in the long run. They are lighter and will be easier to carry up and down the steps. 

Quoile River

The calm water River Quoile flow under the Quoile bridge

Escape to nature and paddle board the Quoile River. This area of outstanding natural beauty was used for filming the much-loved Game of Thrones. There are a number of historical landmarks along the river banks for you to see as you take on the river expedition.

The section of river between Inch Abbey and Castle Island Hide is mostly flat and gently meandering. Just be sure your SUP equipment is geared up for river stand-up paddle boarding!

River Roe

Beautiful and calm water, River roe

If you are looking for somewhere to simply go with the flow, then the River Roe could be perfect for you. Flowing towards the north coast, the region is famed for its outstanding natural beauty. Why not come and experience the magic of Northern Ireland from a paddle board perspective?

Long Line Surf Schools are based along these riverbanks for stand-up paddle boarding lessons. Beginners are taught the basic flat water skills and techniques needed to get started on a SUP. River Roe can be enjoyed at any pace, giving you time to take in the scenes while discovering more about the local heritage.

Paddle Board Rental In Northern Ireland

Paddle boarding is becoming increasingly popular across the world and Northern Ireland is no exception. There are plenty of places to rent SUP equipment from, book a lesson, or join a group for a paddle boarding adventure. 

Here are some places to check out if you are in need of some gear:

Looking for a retreat-style paddle boarding adventure? Check out Gusty Girls. They run women-only weekend escapes. The Ireland weekend retreat explores the Causeway Coast, two beautiful river locations, and some of the dramatic landscapes that were used in filming Game of Thrones.

Interactive Map


🏆 What are the best areas to paddle board in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland has some amazing places to paddle board. Most of the best places to SUP are located in either Down County or Fermanagh County. The Causeway Coast is also fantastic to explore by stand-up paddle board. 

👍 Where is the best place for beginner paddle boarding in Northern Ireland?

Strangford Lough is the best place for beginners to master the basics of paddle boarding. The calm and flat waters here are sheltered from strong winds. It is also a large space of water, so even when it gets busy in the high season it never feels crowded.

🏝️ Where is the best place to watch a sunset from a SUP in Northern Ireland?

If you love watching a sunset from your SUP then you need to head to Cranfield Beach. The sunsets from here are unrivalled, and the sunrises are pretty special too! Remember to take a waterproof camera on your paddle board to capture the beautiful moment.

❓ Where is the most adventurous place to paddle board in Northern Ireland?

The Causeway Coastline offers great adventures on a SUP. Those looking for the most adventurous place to paddle board, plan your route around the coastline towards Carrick-a-Rede. Here you can enjoy a different perspective on the famous rope bridge. Judge the tide correctly and you can even paddle directly under the bridge, conditions permitting.

Abi Leach
Abi Leach

Surfer, paddle boarder, and ocean lover. She loves traveling and discovering new destinations all across the world. When she's not writing, she's exploring the outdoors and enjoying fresh air.

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