Surfing against a backdrop of ancient ruins in Co. SligoTourism Ireland

When people think surfing, they think Hawaii; they think hot sunny weather, clear oceans and tropical surroundings.

Believe it or not, surfers who know their stuff have discovered some of the best surf in none other than the Emerald Isle. Ireland’s not just green fields – it’s also home to some epic waves.

Surfing is a growing sport in Ireland, especially on the west coast. With its craggy coastlines and wild waves, Ireland is the perfect destination for the adventure-seeking surf junkie or the absolute beginner.

Ireland's position on the western fringes of Europe means that it's the first place for the massive waves from the Atlantic to crash ashore.

These huge waves pick up speed as they cross the ocean, creating excellent surfing conditions in Ireland.

Just last year, surfers from around the globe were drawn to Ireland when 55-foot waves smashed into the west coast as a result of a low-pressure system.

The New York Times reported that surfers migrate yearly to coast in Co. Donegal from places like the U.S. and New Zealand to experience a weekend of wild, winter surfing.

So there is plenty of surf in Ireland to please the pro, but for those of us who are not even sure how to stand on a surf board, surf schools exist along Ireland’s coasts, and surfing lessons,  coaching, board hire and wetsuit hire are available at most surf clubs.

Here’s a guide on where to surf:

Northern Ireland

BREAK TYPE: beach
WAVE DIRECTION: left
IDEAL WIND: southerly
IDEAL SWELL: north westerly
IDEAL TIDE: low - mid
HAZARDS: none
AVERAGE WATER TEMPS: 8°C - 14°C
DIFFICULTY: intermediate

Portrush, a seaside town in Co. Antrim, is the home of surfing in Northern Ireland. Here you can find waves on both the West and East Strands. This resort town features several surf shops and schools.


North West

BREAK TYPE: beach
WAVE DIRECTION: various
IDEAL WIND: southerly
IDEAL SWELL: northerly
IDEAL TIDE: all
HAZARDS: none
AVERAGE WATER TEMPS: 8°C - 14°C
DIFFICULTY: beginner

Great waves can be found in numerous locations in Co. Donegal on Ireland’s West Coast. Popular locations include Inishowen and Fanad Head to the north, Dunfanagh, Bloody Foreland and Dungloe in the northwest and Rossnowlagh, the home of one of Ireland’s first surf clubs, and Bundoran in the south of the county. The last two sites are often regarded as two of the best surfing locales in all of Ireland.

Co. Sligo is equally as popular as Co. Donegal when it comes to Irish surfing. In fact, Sligo’s Strandhill is one of the most popular surfing spots in Ireland. All of West Sligo is an area known for its quality surf. Prime locations include Aughris, Easkey and Enniscrone.


West Coast (Co. Mayo)

BREAK TYPE: beach
WAVE DIRECTION: various
IDEAL WIND: north easterly
IDEAL SWELL: westerly
IDEAL TIDE: mid - high
HAZARDS: none
AVERAGE WATER TEMPS: 9°C - 15°C
DIFFICULTY: beginner

Mayo offers some good surf as well. The main locations for surfing in Co. Mayo are Belmullet, Achill Island and the beaches in the Westport area.


West Coast (Co. Clare)

BREAK TYPE: beach / reef
WAVE DIRECTION: various
IDEAL WIND: easterly
IDEAL SWELL: westerly
IDEAL TIDE: all
HAZARDS: rocks / crowds
AVERAGE WATER TEMPS: 9°C - 15°C
DIFFICULTY: intermediate

Clare’s Lahinch is the surfing base in the county. The town offers a number of surf shops and schools for both beginner and experienced surfers.


South West

BREAK TYPE: beach
WAVE DIRECTION: various
IDEAL WIND: northerly
IDEAL SWELL: southerly
IDEAL TIDE: low
HAZARDS: submerged obstacle
AVERAGE WATER TEMPS: 9°C - 15°C
DIFFICULTY: beginner

In Co. Kerry, visit Ballybunion or Castlegregory, which have diverse waves.

You can also surf along most of the coast along Co. Cork, but the beaches around Clonakilty are the most well-known in the county.  Like all of the main surfing locations, there are both surf shops and schools there and in Cork City.


South East

BREAK TYPE: beach
WAVE DIRECTION: right
IDEAL WIND: easterly
IDEAL SWELL: southerly
IDEAL TIDE: all
HAZARDS: none
AVERAGE WATER TEMPS: 9°C - 15°C
DIFFICULTY: beginner

Co. Waterford in the south of Ireland has spots to surf in as well. The most popular surf locale in the county is the seaside town of Tramore, a short drive from Waterford city. Tramore is the home of one of the country’s oldest and most active surf clubs, the T-Bay Surf Club.

 
East Coast

Waves on Ireland’s East Coast are not as consistent as the rest of the Irish coastline, but surfers can find decent waves on the beaches in Co. Dublin. Dublin is the base for the East Coast Surf, one of the largest surf clubs in Ireland.

Beach stats courtesy of www.beachwizard.com 

 

SURF SCHOOLS IN IRELAND

(Irish Surfing Association Approved)

ANTRIM
Portrush

Troggs Surf School

CLARE
Fanore

Aloha Surf School

Lahinch

Ben’s Surf Clinic
The Green Room Surf School
Lahinch Surf School
Ocean Scene

Miltown Malbay
White Water Surf Co
Email: [email protected]

CORK
Ballinspittle

GTown Surf School

Inchydoney
West Cork Surf School

DONEGAL
Bundoran
Bundoran Surf Co.
Donegal Adventure Center
TurfnSurf Lodge and Surf School

Cresslough
Jaws Watersports

Fanad
Adventure One Surf School

Inishowen
Inishowen Surf School

Letterkenny
Gartan Outdoor Education Center

Rossnowlagh
Finn McCool Surf School

KERRY
Tralee

Kingdom Waves Surf School

GALWAY
Leenane

Delphi Adventure Center

MAYO
Ballina

UISCE

Louisburgh
Surf Mayo

SLIGO
Enniscrone

North West Surf School
Seventh Wave Surf School

Strandhill
Perfect Day Surf School
Strandhill Surf School

WATERFORD
Tramore
Oceanic Manoeuvres Surf School
T-Bay Surf School