Family camping in a classic Irish seaside village
I got a major wave of nostalgia this summer in Dunmore East which makes no sense at all because I’d never been there before. We camped at Dunmore East Holiday Park for the August bank holiday weekend, and I felt like I was reliving a family holiday from my childhood. It was less the place itself and more… just everything. The ice-cream shop on the corner; the kids racing down the slipway to the beach every morning; the instant friendships they made; the furious sand castle building; the begging us for money for the sweet shop. It felt so familiar, except now I was the adult on the bench overlooking the beach chatting with the other grown ups and throwing an occasional eye. Ah the Irish summer..
It’s dark December now and those sunshiney days have really taken on a glow. The magic was a combination of two things. The timing: August bank holiday weekend, everyone in top form and maxing out their last chance at a tan/ lobster burn before the ‘Back to school’ signs went up. This was peak Irish summer.
And the location. Dunmore East is pretty special. It’s a ridiculously picturesque traditional fishing village at the mouth of Waterford Harbour. A crescent-shaped beach with shallow waters and gentle waves, ideal for smallies, hugs the town. There’s a hotel, a few restaurants, a couple of shops and a handful of pubs – the aforementioned benches belonging to The Strand Inn, a spot where you could very easily while away the whole day. The whole experience is relaxed, intimate and easy. We parked the car on arrival and didn’t get in to it again until the day we left.
LocationDunmore East is situated on the west side of Waterford Harbour on Ireland’s southeastern coast. The holiday park is laid out over 5 acres of woodlands, adjacent to the golf course and overlooking the Atlantic coast.
Excellent view from your pitchDunmore East Holiday Park is mostly for campervans and caravans. However one field is reserved for tent camping and for my money, it’s the best spot on the whole site. It slopes gently down towards a magnificent view of the harbour and town and out towards the Hook Head peninsula where you can see the lighthouse winking after dark.
Close to the beachYou’ve probably cottoned on at this stage that proximity to the beach is a big priority for us. The nearest beach to the camp site is ‘Councillors Strand’, about a five minute stroll downhill if you take the shortcut from the tenters field. You’ll need to climb over a gate that really feels like it’s going to collapse underneath you, but somehow never does. Sheltered by red sandstone cliffs, it’s a quieter alternative to the town beach. You continue on this road for another 5 minutes to get to the town and the main beach.
Good base for exploringThere are tons of day trips you can do from Dunmore East. If you have bikes (or you can rent them locally) the Waterford Greenway is a must! It’s almost totally flat so doable for children and the views are spectacular. You can explore the local beaches on the Copper Coast drive, head to Splashworld or the Amusement Park in Tramore (18 mins drive), check out the museums in Waterford City (17 mins drive) or watch master craftsmen blowing glass at the Waterford Crystal factory, or take the 10 minute car ferry to the Hook Head peninsula and spend the day on its glorious beaches.
FacilitiesToilet and shower blocks. Campers kitchen with fridges, hob and sinks. Laundry room with washer/dryer and large sink. Drinking water taps. Woodland playground (another playground very closeby at the golf course). Chemical disposal points.
Suitable ForTents, campervans and caravans. Dogs allowed but must be on a lead. Families, groups, couples and singles.
ShoppingFor supplies, there’s a Spar and a very good Centra. For bigger supermarkets you’ll need to head in to Tramore (20 minutes drive) which has a Tesco, Lidl and Supervalu.
Eating outIf seafood is your thing, you’ll do well in Dunmore East. The cosy and relaxed Spinnaker are well know for their fresh fish and do an excellent fish pie and surf ‘n turf. For something a bit more formal Lemon Tree serves top notch eats. We ate at The Haven, which was the only place that could accommodate a massive group at short notice. It’s a gorgeous quaint hotel and we had a lovely time there, great service, but the food wasn’t brilliant. The Lighthouse restaurant at the golf club right next door to the holiday park has a decent menu, great views and it also does takeout if you fancy grabbing something to bring back to your tent. The Strand Inn have a restaurant as well as an all day menu in the bar. There’s also an Italian, a Chinese and a fish and chips place, so plenty of options.
ActivitiesSwimming, snorkelling, eating, pubbing, exploring beaches. Windsurfing, kayaking and sailing at Dunmore Adventure Centre. Sea fishing, whale and dophin watching with Dunmore Angling.
Top 5 Things to Do
- Check out all the beautiful beaches and gorgeous scenery on the Copper Coast drive
- Sample the local seafood.
- Hang out for the day at the Strand Inn overlooking the beach.
- Take the car ferry to Ballyhack for a day on the gorgeous Hook Head peninsula. Make sure to visit the lighthouse.
- Sail. This stunning coastline is best viewed from a boat. The marina is right in the town. The sailing club run a Junior Sailors course duing the summer for 10 to 18 year olds.