With its sheltered coves and hidden sea caves, Dunmore East is a magical place in the Sunny South East. Go swimming and snorkelling during the day in Badger’s Cove or Stony Cove, and later explore the main thoroughfare where you’ll find bustling restaurants, cute ice cream shops and traditional pubs. Feel the sun on your face as you explore this glorious coastal village, and soak up the holiday atmosphere.
For families looking for a safe day’s play, the waters of Councillor’s Beach are clear with lifeguards on watch as the little ones make a break for the water. For the hardy, year-round sea swimmers, there’s no better spot for a swimrise than the south-facing coves scattered beneath the cliffs.
Councillor’s Beach and Lawlor’s Strand sweep in a charming arc and when the tide comes in, the beaches are completely submerged. Make sure you plan your swim in advance and in the evening, take the cliff-top path where you’ll stumble upon secret strands.
Start at the flat rocks west of the harbour and follow the spectacular 6km Dunmore East Cliff Walk. Dotted with benches, it’s a great place for a family hike. Stock up with a tasty picnic from the Lemon Tree Café and look for Bishop’s Cave, a flat rock below the cliff where open-air masses were held during Penal times.
This part of the coast is heavily eroded by wild winter storms from the south-east and the gleaming red sandstone cliffs are where you’ll spot fulmars and kittiwakes. Armed with binoculars, avid birdwatchers might even chance upon black cormorants and herring gulls standing on the rocky outcrops.
Stop at Portally, a pretty cove along the coast, and scan the waves for whales passing by on their seasonal travels. Explore the sandy beach at Rathmoylan but pay attention to the rising tides on your way. Look out for The White Lady, a Bronze-Age standing stone and make your way to Ballymacaw Cove with its berthing rock. Then it’s time for a creamy pint and a rest at Dower’s Bar in Ballymacaw before heading back the way you came.
Dunmore East Harbour
Don’t let the sleepy demeanour of Dunmore East deceive you, it’s a bustling village with a history of boats visiting from all over the world. The harbour and lighthouse in Dunmore East were designed by Scottish engineer Alexander Nimmo. Admire the elegant granite lighthouse with its fluted Doric column, standing guard over the harbour.
After an evening stroll by the pier, stop at East Pier for oysters and prosecco as the sun sets, or a platter of fresh crab claws, caught fresh that day. Dunmore East’s lighthouse stands in refined contrast to its historic squat sister at Hook Head, three miles across the sea.
Dunmore East is packed with architectural gems. The Malcolmsons, a Quaker family, lived at Villa Marina which is now the gorgeous Haven Hotel, overlooking the sea. They also built Fisherman’s Hall, a place for sailors to come and rest between voyages with the condition that they had to drink tea, and tea only.
Woodland Walks in Dunmore East
A few minutes from the harbour, head deep into enchanting Dunmore East Woods and watch as sunlight dances on the leafy canopy overhead. The 6km loop is a manageable route through the forest into the village and is suitable for most walking abilities.
Take a shady wander on a sunny day and soak up the peaceful atmosphere or bring the kids on an evening stroll to spot the fairy houses dotted among the towering trees. After, let them burn off some energy in the nearby playground.
Boat Trips on the Copper Coast
Jackie Kennedy once holidayed in nearby Woodstown back in the 1960s, and one of her holiday highlights was a boat trip from Dunmore East. Get out on the water with skipper Brendan of Dunmore Boat Trips and you’ll soon see why. Go deep-sea angling, book a leisurely family cruise where the kids can inspect hauled-up lobster pots and take turns ‘driving’ the boat, spending hours out at sea searching for the minke, fin and humpback whale.
Closer to shore, watch colonies of seals reclining on the flat rocks below the cliffs. For an unrivalled view of the sandstone sea-stacks, caves and inlets that make up the Copper Coast, a pre-booked kayaking tour with Pure Adventure takes you to tidal beaches only accessible from the sea.
Outdoor adventure in Dunmore East
Next up is a visit to Dunmore Adventure Centre, beside the harbour. Take a trip around the bay or relax on the dock with a coffee as the kids blow off steam in the Wibit Wipeout Aquapark. The Sea Safari experience is new for 2021 and it promises an experience to remember as you zip around the Waterford coastline in a custom-built RIB boat, listening to tales of Viking escapades and roguish smugglers. Next, give stand up paddle-boarding a go or book a sunset kayaking trip to get that epic Instagram shot.
Sailing courses, climbing, caving and archery can be organised but make sure you prebook to avoid disappointment. Golf fanatics should check out the golf course on the other side of the cliffs with its unbeatable views of the calm estuary and deep blue sea. Head into the clubhouse after a relaxing round and enjoy a hearty meal.
Delicious food in Dunmore East
Start on the harbour side of town with a visit to Lemon Tree Café and pick up some homemade scones for breakfast. Later, you’ll want to find time for lunch at the Bay Café. The blaa is a famous Waterford delicacy and their pulled pork version is a popular choice.
For a scenic evening meal, there’s plenty of places to try during your visit to Dunmore East. Above Lawlor’s beach you’ll find The Spinnaker, a lively bar where you’ll run into welcoming locals, urging you to order the mouthwatering mussels. Or stop into The Strand Inn, their baked lobster and seafood pie tastes even better on the scenic outdoor terrace.
Try the delicious Italian dishes in local favourite Azzurro and head into ‘Butcher’ Powers for pints and a rousing trad music session. When in Dunmore East, the thatched cottage charm of Aggie Hayes’ pub is a must visit - the turf fire has been burning since 1760.
Where to Stay in Dunmore East
From comfortable self-catering to quaint B&B’s, there’s lots of lovely places to stay in Dunmore East. For a romantic break, book into The Haven Hotel. This stately house overlooks the Hook Peninsula so make sure you get a room with a view.
Check out Avon Lodge for bed and breakfast where you’re close to everything in the centre of the village. For family fun and chilled out self-catering, look into Seacliff Holiday Village and if the kids are keen to camp, Dunmore East Holiday Park is a must with colourful playgrounds and a private access trail to the beach.
Festival Fun in Dunmore East
Get the full Dunmore East experience and time your visit around one of the epic summer festivals. Join locals and visitors for the Dunmore East Walking Festival in May where you’ll enjoy guided cliff and woodland walks, while unravelling the village’s rich maritime history.
In August, the Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival is a great way to celebrate the end of the summer. Over four days, this glorious coastal village celebrates the origins of country and bluegrass music. Listen out for the unique sound of the mandolin and just try and resist the urge to tap your feet when the banjo players get going.
Dunmore East often holds sailing events and regattas where crowds gather to watch colourful boats race to the finish line. Before you book your visit, have a look and see what’s coming up on the calendar.
There's so many things to do in Dunmore East, it's the perfect place to stay and see more of the Crystal County, with Waterford City just 20km away. Head over to our Waterford destination page and get planning your next holiday.