Portrush Nature Reserve

The seashore rocks at Portrush National Nature Reserve hide a tale of heated debate around the very origins of rocks. This reserve was the battleground of two schools of thought on the origin of basalt when geology was being developed as a science 200 years ago. You can look for fossils in the rocks. These fossils unlocked the secret of how basalt is formed. The Portrush rock looks like basalt but has fossils in it. Further study of the rock and fossils revealed that it is not basalt, but sedimentary shale that had been baked hard by molten lava. This site is world famous because of its contribution to the evolution of geologic thought.

The nature reserve has more than geology to offer the curious visitor. The rock pools give you a fun opportunity to look for crabs, anemones, gobys, limpets and starfish up close. Watch for seals hauled out on the Skerries opposite the reserve and harbour porpoise may be glimpsed chasing fish just off shore. The best time to visit is during spring and summer for rock pooling and all year round for fossil viewing.

Visitors are asked not to remove samples of rock or fossils.

There are toilet facilities, car parking and an indoor rock pool in Portrush Coastal Zone visitor centre as well as interpretation panels.
NB. This map is based on the postcode and so may not reflect the exact location.

Opening times:

Coastal Zone Visitor Centre:
19 April to 30 September 10:00-17:00 Daily


Admission free

The nearest Tourist Information Centre is:

Portrush Visitor Information Centre
  • Toilets
  • Open Sundays
  • Open Mondays
  • Parking Available
  • Free (parking charges may apply)
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