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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!

Easter Family Adventures on the Beach

Posted on March 27, 2013 @ 12:43 PM in Beaches

You have reached the Easter blog for 2013 but don't worry there's still plenty of Easter family adventures happening this year too!  Check out our latest blog Easter Family Adventures in Northern Ireland 2014 for loads of ideas to keep the kids amused this Easter.

Don’t let the weather dampen your spirits this Easter, get the kids out of the house and book onto an event below. Whether you want to get stuck in with the kids or leave them to it with friends their own age – here are just a few of the many activities happening over the Easter break:

£15 Surfing Lessons, Alive Surf School, Portrush, Co. Antrim, 1st April
Who says the kids should get to have all the fun?!   Join in with them and see who can stand up first and ride the waves into the shore.  Alive Surf School is offering 2 hour surf lessons including all equipment and a free snack and drink for just £15 when you quote ‘’ when booking.

Bay to Bay Sea Tour, Portrush Sea Tours, Portrush, Co. Antrim, 30th & 31st March, 1st, 3rd & 4th April
Enjoy the memorable experience of seeing our beautiful coastline from the sea. Witness the glorious sandy beaches of Portrush as you zoom across the water and experience the North Coast like never before as you take in the glorious sights of Ramore Head, the Skerries, Dunluce Castle and Island Doo.  This is one sightseeing trip that will definitely not leave the kids bored.

Kids Surf Camp, Long Line Surf School, Benone Beach, Co. Londonderry, 30th March – 7th April
Surfing, beach games, safety and an experience the children will remember forever!  Leave the kids to have fun on the beach while you go away and relax for a couple of hours knowing they’re in safe hands.  Add into the mix a special kids Easter egg surf hunt on the 1st April and a whole day of fun on the beach with the kids big day out on the 5th April and you’ll have no problem keeping them amused over the break.

Easter Kids Camp, Portrush, Troggs Surf School, Co. Antrim, 6th – 7th April
Relax and chill out while the kids hit the waves, learn how to surf and meet new friends at The Troggs Quicksilver Kids Surf Camp. No experience is necessary and video footage of the surfing is included so everyone can relive the fun.  An exciting, friendly and fully supervised learning experience - the kids are sure to be talking about it for ages! 

Make sure to check out for even more ideas on which beaches to visit this Easter.


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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!

Winter Walking on the Beach

Posted on December 5, 2012 @ 1:14 PM in WalkingBeaches

Northern Ireland’s beaches are amazing places to visit in the summer when the sun is shining and the days are long but the winter time can be an even better time to take a trip to the seaside because of the fact that you can walk for miles without meeting another soul!

Beach Northern Ireland

As you stroll along the sandy beaches of Northern Ireland in winter, take in the amazing 360 degree views, feel the blustery wind in your hair, take a moment to watch the surfers make their moves, build some sand castles, practice your photography skills or watch out for the winter wildlife that may make an appearance. Just be sure to wrap up warm!

After a long breezy day on the beach, there’s only one thing that will finish the day off perfectly and that’s a hot drink for warming the belly…so listed below are a number of beaches that have café or restaurant facilities close by to service this very need.

So what are you waiting for?!

  • Benone Strand, Co. Londonderry – stretches for over 7 miles from Downhill to Magilligan Point. This beach is a blue flag beach with amazing views along the North Coast, to Inishowen in Donegal and to Scotland.
  • Carnlough Beach, Co. Antrim – has a serene and idyllic atmosphere and is at the foot of the famous Glens of Antrim if you fancy some additional walking in the hills.
  • Crawfordsburn Beach, Co. Down - approximately 0.7 kilometres in length this beach comprises of sand with a rocky shoreline at either end and is only a 20 minute drive from Belfast.
  • Murlough Beach, Co. Down - a wide flat sandy beach with a 2m wide pebble ridge providing amazing views of the Mourne Mountains in the distance.
  • Tyrella Beach, Co. Down - a small enclosed beach and dune complex within Dundrum Bay comprising of a wide flat sandy beach, 2km long and backed by 25 hectres of mature dunes.

There’s no better way to get away from all the hype surrounding Christmas than to schedule a lazy winter day on the beach during the festive period…it certainly beats scrambling around the shops to find last minute presents or helping Gran complete her crosswords when she comes to stay for Christmas!

Beach Northern Ireland

For more detailed information on all beaches in Northern Ireland including their facilities, activities and events, please visit


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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!

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