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Why A North Bull Island Walk is One of the Best Hikes in Dublin

Explore North Bull Island in Dublin, a great place in the Ireland for a nature and birdwatching walk. Discover Bull Island birds
A nature walk on North Bull Island is one of the best hikes in Dublin and is the perfect weekend activity when the sun is shining without a cloud in the sky. (an admittedly rare occurrence). 

We're not the type to sit around on a beach, but we do love a good hike in an area of natural beauty, especially when that walk is practically in our backyard in Dublin. 

With this in mind, we set out for a hike and a bit of birdwatching on North Bull Island which is located just offshore between Clontarf and Raheny in the suburbs of Dublin.

North Bull Island Dublin: Seashells uncovered on our walk along the beach

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: It is also well-worth spending some time in Dublin City Centre. Check out our huge list of one day Dublin City itineraries to keep you busy.

Getting to North Bull Island

DART trains are great for day trips up and down the coast from Greystones south of Dublin to Howth and Malahide in the north. Raheny Station is the closest to North Bull Island. 

If you are feeling ambitious, you could take the DART to Raheny Station and walk onto Bull Island via Causeway Road. Hike across North Bull Island and then exit via Dollymount Wooden Bridge, a historic one lane structure built in 1819. 

Map of the walk from Raheny Station to North Bull Island to Clontarf

From here, walk across the Clontarf Promenade to the Clontarf DART station and catch a ride back to Dublin City Centre. This entire route takes about 2 hours on foot.

If you are short on time or not up for an extra long walk beyond the ground you'll cover on North Bull Island itself, install the Free Now app and for a 2 EUR pick-up fee, you can guarantee a taxi ride whenever and wherever you need it. Hail immediately or prebook hours or days in advance. 

Visit North Bull Island Dublin Two Hours Before High Tide

I've read that the best birdwatching times are a couple hours before high tide.  When we arrived at the entrance to North Bull Island, the grass peeked out in the marshy area below the causeway out to the island.  Dublin's iconic Poolbeg smokestacks stood vigil in the distance.
Poolbeg smokestacks viewed from Bull Island Causeway

Birdwatching on Dublin's North Bull Island

On the other side of the Bull Island causeway, I looked out through my binoculars and quickly spotted birds.  They were everywhere!
Flocks of birds viewed from North Bull Island in Dublin
We spotted teals, godwits, barnacle geese, and a curlew on Bull Island.
Birds on North Bull Island - teals, godwits, barnacle geese and a curley
Walking on, we picked our way through tall grasses rustling in the wind moving north toward the tip of Bull Island.
Landscape of North Bull Island
We spotted a reed bunting in the distance balancing precariously.
Reed Bunting on North Bull Island
We saw more birds in the distance and hiked down off of the North Bull Island dunes to water's edge.  The tide was slowly but visibly coming in.
Tide slowing coming in on the northern tip of Bull Island
We crept closer and spotted a group of ringed plovers hanging out on a small patch of dry ground as the tide came in around them.  Such beautiful birds!
Ringed Plovers on North Bull Island Dublin
As we were walking around Bull Island, we heard a near constant and beautiful song.  We saw a bird soaring over our heads.  In flight, it sang without stop.  

We finally caught a glimpse of this lovely little skylark when it came in for a very brief landing near water's edge on Bull Island.
Skylark on North Bull Island

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other places to go for a hike in Dublin? Why not walk Sandymount Beach and onward to the Poolbeg Lighthouse?

Beautiful Views on a Nature Walk on North Bull Island Dublin

At the very northern tip of Bull Island, we were rewarded with gorgeous views of Howth Head. Just beyond Howth Head is another fantastic birdwatching spot in Dublin that I recommend checking out: Ireland's Eye.
View of Howth Head from North Bull Island

North Bull Island Beach

We walked carefully to the edge of the Bull Island and made our way down onto the beach.
The beach on North Bull Island
North Bull Island beach in Dublin
We strolled back the way we had come and spotted all sorts of amazing shells along the way.
Seashells on the beach - North Bull Island
We even spied a very large jellyfish washed up on shore.
Large jellyfish washed ashore on North Bull Island

Wrapping Up Our Bull Island Walk at High Tide

By the time we finished our walk around North Bull Island, it was definitely high tide and the channel under the causeway used to walk onto the island was flooded.
Poolbeg smokestacks at high tide viewed from North Bull Island

The Tree of Life

Make sure to keep an eye out for The Tree of Life or The Peace Tree where the causeway to North Bull Island meets St. Anne's Park. What was once a dying 10 meter tall Monterey Cypress tree has been turned into a canvas featuring dozens of carved animals. It's an impressive site to behold.

Tree of Life in St. Anne's Park near North Bull Island in Dublin

Post-Hike Coffee Near Bull Island Dublin

We finished our afternoon adventure in the suburbs of Dublin with a stop at Perky's Coffee House for coffee and a snack in their outdoor garden.  It was a perfect end to a perfect sunny day on North Bull Island!
Coffee and a cupcake at Perkulicious in Raheny

Map of Our North Bull Island Dublin Walk

Click on the image of the map below to open up an interactive version in Google Maps to help you plan your walk (perhaps retracing my steps).

North Bull Island Dublin Map

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North Bull Island Dublin: A Nature Walk in the City

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Why A North Bull Island Walk is One of the Best Hikes in Dublin
Why A North Bull Island Walk is One of the Best Hikes in Dublin
Explore North Bull Island in Dublin, a great place in the Ireland for a nature and birdwatching walk. Discover Bull Island birds
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog