Updated: Jul 1, 2022
If you're looking for somewhere picturesque to go in the northwest for undersea sports from the shore the area around Mullaghmore is worthy of your attention. Mullaghmore is located just off the N51 at the village of Cliffoney about 20 minutes north of Sligo town. Out on the peninsula there is a ring road that could start or end in the village of the same name.
The village itself is situated on a working harbour where during the summer months it’s not too hard to charter a boat for offshore diving by scuba schools in the local area. If you are looking to stay for a few days there is plenty of accommodation in the area; two hotels and a scattering of B&Bs / AirBnBs that can be booked through various sites.
There are 3 main sites for diving (1) and snorkelling (2) that can be accessed from the road, but with caution as they are not all easily accessible. Below is a list of the 3 areas we have visited. All should be snorkelled with caution and with experienced divers who know the currents and tides in the area.
Mullaghmore Head Carpark
The entry and exit to this site can't be missed as it is marked with a Wild Atlantic Way marker. To the left of the marker there is a steep incline which will bring you down to an area that is popular with cliff divers and swimmers. Great care must be taken when accessing this site as the path down only makes the area suitable for snorkelling and not scuba diving. It would be impractical to bring large amounts of equipment down to the area.
Once down on the slab access to the sea can be done from the slab or through natural pools to the right-hand side. To the left of the site, there is a large hook of rock which goes out about 50 to 60 metres into the sea and forms a small natural cove. Below this area, there is a large kelp forest and crevices teeming with life that on a clear calm day are great to explore. Near to the shore typical depth at high tide is 2-3 meters but going out further that can increase very quickly.
Bishop's Pool to Thumb Rock
The Bishop's Pool is a natural formation that is very popular with swimmers just below the road going around the outer section of Mullaghmore head where on the other hand Thumb Rock is offshore and is a well-known area for divers when boat diving. Either direction can be taken to do a loop from the slab out and back in to pool or the opposite direction. There is a spectacular view of the bay area of south Donegal, between the shore and the rock when finning out, all the way from Bundoran and around to Larghy point.
Bishop's Pool to Thumb Rock can easily be both a great snorkelling point or shore dive depending on the tides, which need to be monitored carefully.
Back of Mullaghmore Village
Just past the Pier head hotel there is a small area that once was a pier beside a pumping station. The access to the area is very difficult as much of the pier has now gone and so have the steps down but if you are willing to make the trip at high tide there is great sea life to be seen between the rocked areas. The last time we were there at low tide there were people down gathering a variety of shellfish from the rocks for the local restaurants.
Over all if you are in the area and looking for a shore diving or snorkelling experience any one of these locations would be a great experience. I would strongly recommend that you go with a guide or a club who know the area and would know the sea conditions. There can be rough strong sea conditions in the area, which could catch you unawares very quickly. A quick google search will bring up plenty of experienced providers who would know the locality very well. If anyone knows of any or has been out in the area leave a comment in the comment section below. Enjoy.