The best spots for swimming, surfing, snorkeling, and diving in and around Doolin

Beyond the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher and rich heritage, the region around Doolin boasts a stunning coastline dotted with some of the country’s most alluring Blue Flag beaches, surfing hot spots and an amazing underwater world to explore. We list the best spots for Swimming in Doolin and beyond and a whole lot more.

Swimming in Doolin Ireland  
Best beaches near Doolin. 
Couple walking on blue flagged Lahinch beach into the sunset. ©️@chaoshengzhang

Blue Flag beaches and surfing hot spots near Doolin

Blue Flag beaches not only promise stunning landscapes but also ensure high water quality, safety, and environmental standards. To achieve Blue Flag status for their beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators, are required to adhere to a specific set of criteria in above mentioned standards.  

Adequate lifeguards and/or lifesaving equipment must be present at the beach and lifeguards must be on duty during weekends in June, daily in July and August, and weekends in September, unless a different arrangement is approved by an Irish Water Safety Risk Assessment – making these beaches an excellent and safe choice for your Irish swimming adventure.

Sea swimming culture in Ireland – Just like a night in the Pub

Pre-Pandemic (2020) no one could have foreseen the significant number of Irish residents would wholeheartedly adopt sea swimming, to the extent that even braving the cold winter waters wouldn’t bother them. 

Sea swimming has evolved into a vital and enduring part of many people’s lives, not only for its health benefits but the socialising aspect of the sport. 

After going for a swim, people may spend an hour relaxing, sipping tea, and engaging in conversation with strangers who swiftly become like-minded friends in our shared love for splashing about.

Swimming in Doolin

Although no longer an official designated swimming area, the old pier at Doolin Harbour continues to be a very popular spot for swimming in Doolin with the locals. The local swimming group there swims year-round when the conditions are safe to do so.

Surfing in Ireland

Best beaches near Doolin. Fanore beach windsurfing: ©️ Clare County Council

While most associate places like the US, Australia and South Africa or more exotic places with surfing – Ireland is not to be missed on the map of top surf spots on the Globe. 

Irish surfers, along with big-wave surfer Conor Maguire have proven their talent in championships and competitions. Irish surf culture even caught the eye of Red Bull who filmed their series ‘Made In Ireland – The True Story of Irish Surfing’ on Ireland’s West Coast. 

The true beauty of surfing in Ireland is, that it is accessible to everyone from beginners to professionals there is a place and wave for everyone.

Our Top 3 beaches to swim and surf near Doolin

Lahinch Beach

approx. 17 min from Doolin

Nestled along the Wild Atlantic Way, Lahinch Beach is a favourite spot for surfers and beach enthusiasts alike. With its impressive waves and golden sands, it offers the perfect playground for water sports and leisurely strolls with distant but stunning views of the Cliffs of Moher on the horizon.

Fanore Beach

approx. 20 min from Doolin

If you crave a tranquil escape, Fanore Beach is your haven. Tucked away in the heart of the Burren, this Blue Flag gem invites you to unwind amidst its rugged beauty. The sweeping shoreline and rolling dunes make it a prime location for everyone who wants to enjoy beach life and windsurfing off the beaten track.

Kilmurvey Beach

approx. 35 min by ferry + 20 min by bike from Doolin

Just a short ferry ride away, you can discover Kilmurvey Beach on Inishmore, Aran Islands. The only blue-flagged beach on the Islands offers clear turquoise waters, white sand and panoramic views of the wild coastline of Galway Bay. A perfect stop to soak up the sun during a day trip around the island.

Swimming in Doolin Ireland.    Best swimming beach near doolin. Kilmurvey Beach: ©️Failte Ireland/ Tourism Ireland -

Many other fantastic blue-flagged beaches can be found along the coast of County Clare including the famous Spanish Point Beach and Kilkee Beach.

Diving and snorkelling around Doolin and the Aran Islands

According to Diving Ireland, the island of Ireland is blessed with over 3000 km (approx.. 1864 miles) of coastline which is world-renowned in the diving community.

Diving and snorkelling near Doolin. Diving Aran Islands, Ireland with Dive Academy

Doolin and the Aran Islands are blessed with clear blue waters and fantastic snorkelling and scuba diving sites. There are sites for every level.

There are a number of shore dive sites along the Doolin’s coastline north side of the harbour. For experienced divers and snorkellers an experience that is hard to beat on a calm day.

In 1984, reports of mysterious submarine caves located in Doolin Harbour surfaced, which were initially explored by divers from Limerick. The complex cave network of submerged passages – also known as the Green Holes of Doolin.

The Green Holes of Doolin consists of 4 separate cave systems:

  1. The Reef Caves
  2. The Hell Complex
  3. Urchin Cave and
  4. Mermaids Hole

Note that the cave systems should only be explored by experienced caved divers. You can also get in touch with the local Burren or Ennis Sub Aqua Club who both frequently dive out of Doolin Point and the Cliffs of Moher.

Diving and snorkelling off the Aran Islands

While diving in Doolin’s cave systems isn’t for the faint-hearted and requires plenty of experience, the nearby Aran Islands provide fantastic multi-hour dive and snorkelling trips and courses for every level.

Only a short ferry ride away from our Lodges, you can discover the breathtaking marine world of the Aran Islands!

Inis Mor-based Dive Academy provides a variety of tours from family and wildlife snorkelling to PADI certification courses.

A wildlife snorkelling trip near the local sea colony makes a dream come true. If you are lucky, you may come across other wildlife such as dolphins or even whale sharks. 

Diving and Snorkelling with a dolphin off Doolin Pier
Snorkelling with dolphins in Doolin and the Aran Islands

Niall’s passion for open waters

Niall first came to Doolin from Tipperary in his twenties and fell in love with the place, the people, the music, the Atlantic Ocean and the Aran Islands. Two years later, Niall fell in love again and married Darra right here in the village of Doolin. 

Niall himself is an experienced sailor and diver and is happy to share his experience and advice with you.

Visit Doolin for watersport activities

From family adventures, free diving to PADI spots, there is plenty of fish in the sea to explore. Once back at your Lodge, hop into your private hot tub to relax and recharge for your adventure.

If you are staying with us get in touch today, we are happy to assist with selecting your holiday activities.

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