The lovely little village of Dunmore East in Waterford is one of our favourite villages in Ireland.
Small, scenic and a stone’s throw from many of the best places to visit in Waterford, Dunmore East has everything you could possible want from a seaside getaway.
From the fabulous cliff walk and the popular adventure park to the abundance of beaches and places to eat, a visit here really is hard to beat (that unintentionally rhymed…).
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Dunmore East to where to eat, sleep and drink.
Some quick-need-to-knows about Dunmore East in Waterford
Although a visit to Dunmore East in Waterford is fairly straightforward, there’s a few quick chunks of information worth knowing in advance of your trip.
2. A gorgeous town to explore from
Dunmore East is one of the prettiest towns in the country with its colourful, thatched houses and its beach so close to the centre. This part of the southeast is perfectly positioned to explore not only Waterford but also Cork, Tipperary and Wexford. Of course, that’s after you’ve experienced all that the town has to offer.
3. Scenery, food + lively pubs
Dunmore East in Waterford is a proper seaside getaway, with glorious scenery, some great places to grab a bite to eat and plenty of lively pubs where you can whittle away an evening. It’s a beautiful little place for an escape.
A brief history of Dunmore East
There is evidence, although not recorded, that people lived in Dunmore East before the Iron Age. They would protect themselves from enemies by erecting their shelters on narrow slivers of clifftop projecting into the sea.
These shelters are called Promontory Forts, or Great Forts which translates in Gaelic to Dun Mor. A fishing community developed over hundreds of years with all the houses built to face Hook Lighthouse in Wexford.
It must have given the women solace at times when their men were out at sea. By 1824, Dunmore East became a holiday resort of sorts, described by the writer, R.H.Ryland, as a delightful and fashionable watering place.
The thatched cottages were let during the summer for 1 to 3 Guineas a week. The cottages are still there. The town has remained a crucial part of the fishing industry and is a designated National Fishery Harbour.
Things to do in Dunmore East (and nearby)
One of the beauties of using Dunmore East as a base is its proximity to a plethora of things to see and do.
However, if you don’t fancy leaving the village, there’s plenty of things to do in Dunmore East, as you’ll discover below.
1. The Dunmore East cliff walk
The Dunmore East to Ballymacaw Cliff Walk is one of our favourite walks in Waterford. This is a gorgeous coastal walk and the route dates to the 1820s, when the harbour was constructed.
The workers used this trail to go back and forth from Portally and Ballymacaw. In fact, the first set of steps that take you onto the walkway are set in what was once the quarry used to supply stone for the harbour construction.
The Walk is a linear 5km and suitable for all ages and levels of fitness. The stand-out, of course, is the view out to Hook Head and the Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse in the world.
There are many sites of interest along the way, and you can have a rest at Portally Cove while watching out for seabirds and otters. If you’re going to Ballymacaw, you might want to stop for refreshment at one of the 2 local pubs. It’s a memorable walk with caves and coves and stone memorials along the way.
2. Beaches galore
Waterford has 147km of coastline, so it’s probably no surprise that there are 39 beaches and coves dotted along its length. In Dunmore East, there are at least six sheltered and beautiful coves where visitors enjoy snorkelling and swimming.
The two most popular beaches are Councillors Beach and Lawlors Beach which are both right in the village itself.
The beaches of Portally, Rathmoylan, Ballymacaw, Woodstown, Fornaught, and Saleens are a mixture of big sandy swathes and secluded bays. All the beaches, except for Saleens, are suitable for swimming (always use caution when entering the water!).
Inside the village are several coves including, Ladies, Men’s, and Badgers. Let your imagination run riot with that one!
3. The Dunmore East Woods walk
One of the most overlooked things to do in Dunmore East is to head for a ramble through the 42 acres of Dunmore East woods.
The woodland here boasts a fine mix of conifers and deciduous trees, and it’s a gorgeous place for a walk away from the hustle and bustle of the village, without actually leaving it.
The entrance for the woods can be found just up past Azzuro Restaurant. This is a marked trail, so it’s nice and easy to follow.
4. A pint with a view at the Strand Bar
The Strand Bar has what it calls an ‘adventurous’ music policy. There’s one pub for a younger crowd which has pool tables and provides music to their taste.
A pianist in the lounge plays everything you can think of, while the Constellation Bar is a haven for traditional music lovers.
A couple of snugs for the romantics or those who want to be alone to soak up the Hook Head views complete the picture. Of course, when the weather’s good, you probably want to be outside, enjoying the beachside location and the patio with its wraparound views.
5. Dunmore Adventure
Dunmore Adventure is a rare find that caters to children, teenagers, and adults, with various abilities, and all enjoy it immensely. You can book activities for one hour or one week, it’s up to you, and it’s open all year round.
There’s a massive assortment of adventure sports, with additions yearly; you’ll have a unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else!
The attraction that garners the most attention is the Wibit Wipeout Aquapark which is basically a water-based obstacle course providing hours of hilarity. In addition, archery, Powerfan Freefall, Caving, Powerboat, and Sailing courses are all on offer, as well as a host of other activities.
If you’re in search of things to do in Dunmore East with a group of friends, you can’t go wrong with an afternoon spent here.
6. The scenic drive
This gorgeous scenic drive from Dunmore East to Cheekpoint has so much historical interest you might need a few hours to navigate the approx. 12km trail.
Starting with a 4th Century church at Killea, which was administered by Aodh, a disciple of St Declan. From there, you can move on to Harristown Cross Roads, where you can see a megalithic tomb dating to 1600.
You can stop off for a swim at Woodstown Beach before heading towards Geneva Barracks. These were built in the 18th Century for Swiss silver workers who had to leave Switzerland because of their Huguenot loyalties. This barracks was used as a prison during the 1798 rebellion and made famous in the Irish ballad The Croppy Boy.
The Knights Templar built a castle in Crooke, the next village along the path. You next land in Passage East, just as Strongbow did in 1170. The drive ends in the little fishing village of Cheekpoint (translates to Poinnte na SIoghe), which means Fairy Point.
Tramore is one of the best known seaside towns in Ireland and is the leading tourist town on Ireland’s Sunny South East. Since the arrival of the railway from Waterford City in 1853, the town thrived and grew, first as a tourist town, then as a satellite town to Waterford City.
Nowadays, it’s a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts because of the large, sheltered bay and the towering waves (there’s plenty of other things to do in Tramore, too!).
Families love coming here to relax and play on the beautiful beach and then on to the amusement park or Splashworld, and fish and chips afterwards by Tramore Beach.
8. Ireland’s oldest city
Waterford City, a port city in Ireland’s southeast, is the oldest city in Ireland. It was founded in 914 by the Vikings, and their influence is evident throughout the city.
The narrow historic streets invite you to browse the boutiques and unusual shops, or you can take a walking tour and get all the insider details. Nowadays, Waterford is renowned for its cultural contributions, and its festivals draw a national and international audience.
Restaurants and pubs in Dunmore East
There’s some excellent pubs and places to eat in Dunmore East, for those of you staying the night and that are in search of a post-adventure feed/pint.
During the summer months, you’ll find live music and mischief taking place in many of the pubs in Dunmore East Below.
1. Power’s Bar
You can’t leave Dunmore East without visiting Power’s Bar. Many pubs throughout Ireland have a history of selling groceries to the locals, and Power’s is no different. Because of this, the pub is known to the locals as “The Butchers.” The pub is filled with maritime artefacts in a nod to Dunmore East’s seafaring background. Bill Power, the original Butcher, opened the pub in 1905, and it’s still run by the Power family today
2. The Spinnaker Bar & Restaurant
This is a pub with a difference – you can buy a Kayak as well as a pint! Although, maybe not after the pints! The Spinnaker Bar & Restaurant has a nautical theme and receives excellent reviews for its food, particularly the seafood dishes. There’s a big outdoor dining area for fine days, and if it’s chilly, you can cosy up beside an open fire at your candlelit table.
3. The Strand Inn
The Strand Inn is the perfect place to grab an outdoor table, have a drink or a meal and enjoy busy, beautiful Dunmore East. The views are worth it alone. A seafood restaurant in a fishing town is a blessing; your fish dishes always taste so fresh. Locally sourced fruit and vegetables add to the dining experience at The Strand, which has an excellent reputation.
4. Lighthouse Bar & Restaurant Dunmore East
The Lighthouse Bar & Restaurant has ‘probably the best location for views in Dunmore East. Opting for fish and chips in a fishing village is a good idea, and they’re cooked to perfection with a light crispy coating on the Cod, and the chips are homemade. The Lighthouse is pet-friendly, with a lovely outdoor area to enjoy drinks and a meal against a backdrop of fantastic ocean views.
Dunmore East Accommodation
So, there isn’t a huge amount of accommodation in Dunmore East. And it can be tricky to find a place to stay here during the busy summer months.
However, there are several great places to stay, as you’ll discover in our Dunmore East accommodation guide. Here are three of our favourites (affiliate links):
1. The Haven Hotel
The Haven Hotel is one of the more popular hotels in Waterford and it has been owned and operated by the Kelly family for more than 50 years. It’s set in the centre of gorgeous Dunmore East, and the hotel is filled with charm and character. The bedrooms are all different as the hotel used to be a private home, but with its brilliant location, many of the 12 rooms in the main house have sea views.
2. The Strand Inn Accommodation
Right beside the beach, The Strand Inn also has a seafood restaurant, free car parking and an outdoor patio offering gorgeous views of the Hook Head Lighthouse. Each bedroom has a flat-screen TV and en suite bathroom, and free WiFi is available. In addition, many of the rooms have a balcony overlooking the ocean.
3. Seacliff Holiday Homes Dunmore East
Seacliff Holiday Homes are self-catering holiday homes situated in a beautiful clifftop location next to the Dunmore East Golf Club. Perfect for your family holiday, the houses are located away from the main road, have open plan living on the ground floor, a separate kitchen and a family bathroom.
FAQs about visiting Dunmore East in Waterford
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what are the best things to do in Dunmore East to where to eat and stay.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What are the best things to do in Dunmore East?
You can tackle the cliff walk, head off into the woods, ramble along the beach, take the scenic drive, visit Dunmore Adventures and take one of many day trips to nearby attractions.
Where are the best places to eat in Dunmore East?
Azzuro Restaurant and O’Shea’s Fish and Chips are two of our favourites, but there’s also the Lighthouse Bar, the Spinnaker, the Strand Inn and the restaurant in the Haven Hotel.
What are the best places to stay in Dunmore East?
If you’re visiting with a group, one of the holiday homes above should do the trick. If you’re looking for a hotel, you’ve the Haven, and there are several other self-catering options, too.
Norah is a writer and self-publisher of fiction and non-fiction. She adores the excitement of unknown places and together with several locations in Ireland, has, over 21 years, made her home in London, The Hague and New Zealand, returning to Ireland with her Kiwi rescue dog Barney, in tow.