Ross MillarFergal KilkennyNoelle Rohan
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How you can do your bit to protect our local beaches this April

Posted on April 7, 2014 @ 1:39 PM in Beaches

Sarah Monaghan, on behalf of M&S, is encouraging everyone to take part in the M&S Big Beach Clean this Easter, here she talks about some of the not so obvious pieces of litter that has been found on the beach and how you can get involved to help keep our Northern Irish beaches clean.

A bath, a coffee maker, and a Freeview box.

(I feel “and a cuddly toy” coming on.)

But no, this isn’t a list of Generation Game prizes but in fact, just some of the stranger items found on our beaches last year during Marks & Spencer’s Big Beach Clean-up.

Who brings a bath to the beach anyway?

In 2013, a whopping 9,000 people volunteered and collected 4,000 bin bags full of litter, covering

300km of beaches and canals across the U.K.

Most of the litter collected was common waste items such as fishing nets, ropes and bottles tops- but there was even a HM Prison Service toothbrush!

Litter on our beaches not only looks unattractive but is a serious threat to those who enjoy the great outdoors.

Broken bottles and sanitary waste pose a real danger to beach walkers, while items such as discarded fishing nets are a risk to our divers, surfers and boaters.

(And I don’t even have to mention how litter is also killing our wildlife and marine life.)

Now, here’s how you can help!

This year’s M&S Big Beach Clean-up will tackle litter on four beaches here in Northern Ireland, which are:

  • Loughshore Park, Jordanstown – Thursday 24th April at 10am
  • Portstewart Strand – Friday 25th April at 10am
  • Ballyholme, Bangor – Saturday 26th April at 11am
  • Warrenpoint, Newry – Sunday 27th April at 12 noon

The UK target is to clear more than last year’s massive haul of 30 tonnes of litter.

If you want to put that in perspective – it’s the equivalent weight of two double decker buses!

There’s also a nice little incentive (apart from helping the environment) – a £5 M&S voucher on the day if you register in advance at

Come on, get involved and save NI’s outdoors!

Beverley Magowan
Beverley Magowan  Senior Marketing Officer

Beverley used to be a keen horse rider but since joining a local cycle club in 2013 she has developed a passion for 2 wheels instead of 4 hoofs! Meaning she can often be found on a bike exploring the roads across the country!

Hit the Beach during Northern Ireland Adventureland Weekend!

Posted on March 25, 2014 @ 4:29 PM in Beaches

Adventureland is back and there’s lots happening on the beach!

On Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th April 2014 an array of outdoor activities are taking place across the country at prices too good to miss for Northern Ireland’s Adventureland Weekend. With a packed programme of events for either £10pp or 50% off there is something for everyone from those looking for a great day out with the kids to the adrenaline junkie looking for their next adventure. If you love hitting the beach to experience the ‘great outdoors’ then here is what’s happening on a variety of beaches over the weekend:

Surf’s Up!

Surfing is undoubtedly one of the most popular activities on the beaches of Northern Ireland. This year’s Northern Ireland Adventureland Weekend includes lots of fantastic offers to get you riding your first wave in no time, all at a reduced cost!

NI Adventurland Weekend Surfing Lessons

Family Surf Session: Long Line Surf School, Benone Beach, £10 (Saturday 5th April)

The perfect activity for all ages from 6 years old meaning the whole family is sure to have a blast on the water! Put a wetsuit on and jump into the blue Atlantic Ocean; it’s time to learn how to surf the waves into the shore! The perfect opportunity to take in the culture of surfing along one of Ireland's longest beaches, this exhilarating and exciting experience is perfect for all families who love the beach and everything about it.

Surf Experience for Adults: Long Line Surf School, Benone Beach, £10 (Saturday 5th April)

During this adult only session you will learn all the skills and techniques needed to ride the waves at one of the most highly qualified ASI (Academy of Surf Instructors) schools in the country.

Portrush Surfing Experience: Troggs Surf School, East Strand Portrush, 50% off (Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th April)

Learn to surf with Northern Ireland’s only Quicksilver approved surf school with the highest qualified coaches in Northern Ireland. This is a 2 hour beginner session where all equipment is provided including wetsuits and surf boards so all you have to worry about is showing up and having fun!

Learn to Surf: Alive Surf School, Portrush West Strand, 50% off (Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th April)

Join Alive Surf School for a brilliant day out and learn how to surf on one of the North Coast's most popular beaches.  All equipment including surf boards and wetsuits will be provided. Once kitted out you will learn the basics before hitting the waves to put it into practice. All ages from 8 and up are welcome.

Try something NEW!

A number of activities are NEW to this year’s Northern Ireland Adventureland Weekend which we think are well worth a blast! Have a go at one (or more) of these activities during this special offer weekend:


Land Paddling Experience:  Blokart World, Benone Beach, 50% off (Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th April)

You won’t have to travel far to participate in this popular Californian beach activity. A new activity to the beaches of Northern Ireland, a land paddle is a long board on skate wheels controlled by the rider’s feet, weight and distribution, similar to stand up paddleboarding (but on land). After a short briefing your instructor will guide you on the skills required to get the best from your experience introducing riding stance, stopping and breaking techniques, toe side turns, heel side turns and paddle techniques.  

SUP Experience
Troggs Surf School, East Strand Portrush, 50% off (Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th April)

Have fun with family and friends whilst learning one of the fastest growing sports in the world with Northern Ireland’s first ASI Accredited SUP Instructors. Get ready to take part in a fully structured 1 hour starter lesson at East Strand Beach or Portrush Harbour (depending on conditions). The lesson will include information on your paddle and board as well as all the paddling skills and techniques you need to know to learn stand up paddling in a few easy and fun steps.

All bookings should be made through the OutdoorNI Adventureland Website where the full programme of events can be viewed. Places are filling up fast so we suggest booking early to avoid disappointment.

Jayne Woodrow
Jayne Woodrow  Marketing Officer & Active Clubs Coordinator for Walking

Jayne joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in March 2014. She oversees the marketing and communication on WalkNI, OutdoorNI and Walking in Your Community Project. Most recently she has been working with Parkrun Ireland & UK to introduce the 'Walk @ parkrun' initiative.

Awards for North Coast Surf School’s

Posted on January 15, 2014 @ 3:55 PM in Beaches

The winners of the 2013 Awards, in association with Surf Mountain, have just been announced with two Surf Schools located on the North Coast receiving awards for the Best Coastal Experience and the Best Family Activity Provider.   

With 1500 votes cast by the public on’s Facebook Page, the awards were the biggest and best yet with the nominees battling it out throughout December to win the coveted titles. 

Best Coastal Experience –Activity Provider offering the best outdoor activity exploring the Northern Ireland Coastline

Kids Big Day Out, Long Line Surf School, Benone Beach

The Kids Big Day Out is an initiative which allows kids to spend a whole day on the beach with trained surf instructors and life guards.  From surf lessons to swimming, and beach games to treasure trails the kids experience beach culture whilst getting outdoors and active.  On receiving the award, owner Dan Lavery explained why he thinks his event has the winning formula, “The ethos behind the surf school and the Kids Big Days Out is all about encouraging young ones to experience surfing as a lifestyle rather than just a sport.  By incorporating fun and education through games and exercise on the shores as well as the water the kids got to make the most of this fantastic beach we have at Benone and I believe this is what keeps them coming back for more”. 

Make sure to keep an eye on Long Line’s events calendar for the next Kids Big Day Out.

Best Family Activity Provider - The activity provider offering the best family experience

Alive Surf School, West Strand Beach, Portrush

This popular category created some stiff competition for Alive Surf School but they were still able to rise to the top to win the award for the third consecutive year. When asked about the secrets behind the success of Alive Surf School, founder Ricky Martin explained, “The surf school originated from a love of surfing so to me and my team its not just about running a business but it’s about introducing others to the world of surfing in a fun and passionate atmosphere with the aim of getting more and more people hooked to the sport”

With lessons available for all ages from 5 years old, why not get your family together and hit the waves with Alive Surf School.

The sponsor of the awards, Surf Mountain founder Nick Stevenson also had a few words to say, “We at Surf Mountain have always prided ourselves on being from Northern Ireland. All our staff our outdoor enthusiasts and so we were delighted to have the opportunity to support local events, progressive outdoor providers and venues such as the Lough Erne Canoe Trail. All the category winners and indeed nominees should be incredibly proud of their achievements this year.” would like to extend a massive congratulations to both Long Line and Alive Surf School for scooping these top awards. Well done guys!

Beverley Magowan
Beverley Magowan  Senior Marketing Officer

Beverley used to be a keen horse rider but since joining a local cycle club in 2013 she has developed a passion for 2 wheels instead of 4 hoofs! Meaning she can often be found on a bike exploring the roads across the country!

Getting Active on the Beach

Posted on November 15, 2013 @ 2:25 PM in Beaches

There are plenty of different ways to explore the beaches of Northern Ireland including strolling along the shoreline or delving into the sand dunes but another great way is by taking part in one of the many outdoor activities that use the beach as their playground.

Blokarting - Blokarting combines aspects of dingy sailing and kite buggying, a landsailer is exactly what the name suggests – a three wheeled yacht (or kart) with a sail attached and is ideal for the beach given the wide open space you need. Blokart World is a company run by qualified trainers offering sessions on the following beaches – Benone, Murlough, Tyrella and Cranfield.

Surfing – Surfing in Northern Ireland offers waves to suit everyone, from beginners to champions and if you’re kitted out with a good wetsuit it won’t be too cold to venture into the water. The surf scene is most definitely based on the North Coast with providers operating from 3 different beaches including Troggs Surf School on East Strand in Portrush, Alive Surf School on West Strand in Portrush and Long Line Surf School on Benone Beach.

Stand up Paddle Boarding – Is a fun and easy way of riding a surf board with a paddle, SUP is a great way to have fun on the beach when the surf is flat. The SUP scene is growing rapidly in Northern Ireland and whether you want to enjoy a lesson or go exploring on a SUP safari - the use of modern wetsuits means that it is a year round sport. Providers operate from Benone Beach and East Strand in Portrush.

Horse Riding – Horse riding on the beach is a fantastic way to experience being on horse back, although as the horses tend to want to go a bit faster in the wide open space, riding schools normally stipulate that you have to be an experienced rider to have a go. A favourite spot for beach riding is Downhill Beach in the shadow of the iconic Mussenden Temple with Hill Farm Riding Centre.

Segway - Imagine a feeling like hovering above the ground at speed, with complete control over any terrain, this is what it feels like to ride a segway. Segway Express, based on the outskirts of Limavady, offer tours on Benone Beach giving you the opportunity to glide along part of the 7 mile stretch of beach and test your skills on the boardwalk on the way back.

Sea Kayaking – Experience what the North Coast has to offer to sea kayakers by taking a sea kayak trip from East Strand Beach in Portrush with provider Simply Sea Kayak. Launching from the beach, the tour will take you out to the impressive Skerries Islands to spot the large population of breeding seabirds before returning back to the beach.

If this blog has inspired you to explore your nearest, or not so nearest, beach from a different perspective then don’t forget to visit for even more activities to do on the beach.


Latest comment posted by Aron on November 19, 2013 @ 5:43 PM

It offers a wide range of how to explore scenery beaches. i really like the Blokarting. It is really nice tool to explore the beautiful seashore meanwhile it can help us to get avoid into the cold ... Read more >

Beverley Magowan
Beverley Magowan  Senior Marketing Officer

Beverley used to be a keen horse rider but since joining a local cycle club in 2013 she has developed a passion for 2 wheels instead of 4 hoofs! Meaning she can often be found on a bike exploring the roads across the country!

Diving in Northern Ireland

Posted on July 3, 2013 @ 2:38 PM in AdventureBeaches

OutdoorNI’s Sarah Nelson recently headed to the North Coast to spend the morning Scuba Diving with Aquaholics Dive Centre. Here’s how she got on…

Spectacular landscapes, seaweed covered wrecks, amazing marine wildlife…no I’m not describing some tropical climes, all of this can be found in the waters surrounding Northern Ireland.  Contrary to popular belief you don’t need to travel half way around the world to experience breathing underwater - the North Coast has it all! So off I went on a gloriously sunny day to the headquarters of  Aquaholics in Portstewart very excited to give diving a go for the first time. A PADI Five Star Dive Centre I knew I would be in safe hands and it was here I met my friendly instructor for the morning – Dave.  After taking time to go through all the necessary health and safety forms we had a quick chat in the shop about what to expect during the session.   We covered the very basic, but important principles of diving including how to communicate when under water using the various hand signals, equalizing (a method used to equalize the pressure in your ears when descending) and how to ascend slowly as well as the golden rule; don’t touch anything no matter how pretty, shiny and inviting it looks!

 Diving Northern Ireland

A two minute drive from the shop we arrived at our spot; Portnahapple, a naturally formed old swimming cove. Having taught and dived all over the world Dave had recently moved to the North Coast from the Caribbean and was adamant that the diving in our ‘wee’ country was just as good.  After admiring the view it was wetsuit time - the hardest thing I would do all day according to Dave.  Ready for the neoprene challenge, thankfully it wasn’t quite the ordeal I was braced for and I was suited and booted in no time.  We then chatted through all the kit (there was a lot!) from the snorkel mask and fins to buoyancy control device, oxygen canister and weight belt before having a few dry runs with the regulator until I felt confident using it.  Gloves and hood on - now I really felt like I looked the part even if by default I looked ridiculous! One thing was for sure though; at least I wouldn’t be feeling the cold sea temperatures.  Once on, I won’t lie the kit was pretty heavy but it wasn't long before it became weightless once in the water.

 Diving Northern Ireland

Fins in hand we made our way down to the shore. Waddling into the water - no cool backwards dives into the sea for us that is reserved for the open water course and those who know what they’re doing.  We sat in the shallows for a bit of practice using the regulator, removing and replacing it and clearing the mask from any leakages all whilst underwater. As it was my first time Dave looked after my oxygen levels and buoyancy so all I had to concentrate on was breathing underwater which took a little while to get used to.

It was then time to get a bit of depth and go exploring. As my instructor elegantly glided along beside me I was far less graceful in the water flapping all over the place but apparently moving through the water effortlessly comes with practice and thankfully Dave was there to manoeuvre me round and get me back on track.  Our first encounter was with some giant green stuff which I had been forewarned was not in fact a giant sea monster but kelp and lots of it. There were plenty of interesting rocks and it wasn’t long before we came across our first crab scuttling along the sea bed.  The visibility was a lot better than I had expected as we descended to around 8 metres.  It really was another world at the bottom - so quiet and peaceful and looking up above to see the current of the water on the surface above was amazing.  Dave was quick to point out all the things I would have probably missed as I was trying to take everything in including the highlight of the day, an absolutely massive crab.

Hands down the best thing about the whole experience was that it didn’t take place in a swimming pool which meant I not only got to properly dive in the sea on my first go but it was also certainly a lot more interesting than staring at some tiles at the bottom of a pool.  Granted we didn’t find nemo or any other tropical fish for that matter but there were still quite a lot of pretty cool things to see that I didn’t think would be down there.

Time flies when you’re having fun so it wasn’t long until it was time to head in.  Wading out of the waters like creatures from the deep we took one man and his dog casually sitting on the rocks by surprise as we emerged apparently out of no where from the water. As soon as we got back on dry land I was already enquiring about the next steps to continue diving.  Dave had warned me that once I tried scuba diving there would be no going back…and he was right! 

Activity Provider:

Aquaholics Dive Centre
14 Portmore Rd
Northern Ireland
BT55 7BE

028 70832584


Sarah attended theTry a Divecourse with Aquaholics. A three hour taster session suitable for all ages from 10 years. No experience of diving needed.

Diving lessons take place all year round with March to October providing the best conditions. Simply contact Aquaholics to book a date that suits you. 


£80 for the Try a Dive Experience

Gift Vouchers for this experience are also available to buy online at


Latest comment posted by Melissa on March 13, 2018 @ 11:56 AM

Scuba diving is one of my biggest passions. The main reason I love diving is the adventure, because you never know what you will found below the water surface. I use the map to ... Read more >

Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson  Marketing Officer

Sarah joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in 2011. A firm believer in giving anything a go at least once (unless it involves jumping out of a plane at 6,000ft!) she is always looking for new adventures in the outdoors and can often be found wandering the Mournes or Glens of Antrim attempting not to get lost!

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