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Kitesurfing Northern Ireland - Best Places & When To Go

Thanks to the awesome NI kiting crew for their great suggestions for this article, and to talented local photographer Kevin Patterson for that cracking cover shot of Ballyholme Beach! 

So you’re into, or you want to get into, kitesurfing Northern Ireland style, right?

Well, man have you picked a place. This ‘wee’ (as the locals would say) area punches well above its weight in terms of truly spectacular, mind-blowing kiting locations. If you’re a warm-blooded creature who can’t handle the cold, then kitesurfing Northern Ireland style is not for you. Even during its hottest weather it’s only the locals and those visiting from equally cold climes who will get about in minimal kit.

But if you don’t mind getting fresh, then you’ll be rewarded big-time. Northern Ireland really is an untapped Mecca when it comes to kiting. So without any further ado and in no priority of brilliance, let's get into some of the most loved, most awesome destinations you and your gear could possibly visit.

 

Ballyholme Beach

 

Where is it located? 

Bangor, County Down. 

What makes it ideal for kitesurfing? 

Disclaimer - this is our home turf so there's plenty of bias here. That said, we couldn't be more fortunate to have this stretch in our backyard. One of the features that makes it so ideal is accessibility and reliability - it is the local kiters go-to location for much of the year, especially when there is a strong Northerly. The beach carpark or the yacht club provide launch areas.

 

Tyrella Beach

 

Where is it located? 

Downpatrick, County Down. 

What makes it ideal for kitesurfing? 

When the conditions are favourable, this place is a treat. The smaller waves come into Dundrum Bay and are just perfect for boosting big. 

Scenically, the sandy beach is about two kilometres long and has a swag of enviro-friendly awards such as the Blue Flag for management and cleanliness, the Green Coast Awards and the Seaside Award.  

 The beach is a car-free zone but there are facilities off the sand. 

There's beachfront accommodation including caravans, B&Bs and self catering accommodation. 

 

Strangford Lough

 

Where is it located? 

Greyabbey, County Down. 

What makes Strangford Lough ideal for kitesurfing?

It's a combination of gin-clear, uninterrupted water and really unique environment that makes this location pretty fantastic. Some ideal launch areas are located near the village of Greyabbey and in southerly winds this place is great. Northerly winds make it patchy.

The largest inlet in the British Isles and covering up to 150km2, Strangford Lough links to the Irish Sea via a long narrow channel at its southern end, and is almost completely enclosed by the Ards Peninsula. It's considered one of the richest biodiverse regions in Europe and is home to more than 2,000 marine species, including the occasional exciting visit from orca pods. 

Brent Geese - No Kitesurfing  

It's important to know that kitesurfing is not permitted when the famous Brent Geese come to town. Some 25,000 head over from Canada, making the pilgrimage via Greenland and Iceland before landing in Strangford sometimes late August, but mostly early Autumn. 

Portstewart Strand

 

Where is it located? 

Portstewart, Co Derry / Londonderry. 

What makes Portstewart (and Benone) ideal for kitesurfing?

Portstewart Strand, and the nearby Benone beach, are great spots for kiting. The beaches are huge, sandy and fairly sparsely populated, despite how terrific they are. The waves are fantastic when there is a west round to north wind. 

 

 

Cloughey

 

Where is it located? 

Ards Peninsula, County Down. 

What makes Cloughey ideal for kitesurfing?

Pronounced 'clocky', this is a lovely, sandy beach at low tide and boasts a good flat water spot when the wind is in the right direction. For kiting, this spot is sensational when any winds with an easterly in them are blowing. 

Millisle

 

Where is it located? 

Ards Peninsula, County Down. 

What makes Millisle ideal for kitesurfing?

Super, small waves are a lot of fun here and it's ideal when there is a south-easterly blowing. 

Ballywalter

 

Where is it located? 

Ballywalter, County Down. 

What makes Ballywalter ideal for kitesurfing?

Nice open, sandy beach at low tide. Some small waves. 

When is the best time to kitesurf in Northern Ireland? 

365 days a year, if you ask us locals! Sure, nothing beats kitesurfing with a summer sun setting in the background, but provided you've got the right gear (see below) then you can take advantage of these mint locations any time of year (unless you're in Strangford when those geese land...!). 

What is the best gear to pack for kitesurfing in Northern  Ireland? 

There are two things to keep in mind when it comes to kiting here.

1. Northern Ireland's climate is oceanic, with Atlantic weather fronts moving over the entire area keeping things fairly unstable. The winds are lively and moving through regularly, although they tend to be particularly strong late Autumn and early Spring. 

2. This is Ireland - anything can happen! 

Kitesurfing in Autumn / Winter

  • Kites down to six metres
  • Your thickest wetsuit (we recommend the Mystic Vaultt) 
  • Boots and gloves
  • Neoprene hood 

Kitesurfing in Spring / Summer

  • Lighter winds mean you should be able to get the 12 metre kite out a lot more
  • Opt for a Summer 4/3 wetsuit (we recommend the Mystic Marshall) 

Have we missed somewhere incredible? If you think so, touch base with us!  

 

 

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