The secret is out! Ireland has become a top world surfing destination and its exposed Atlantic Ocean west coast and warm temperate maritime climate make it ideal for surfing vacations. Put simply Ireland has big waves, mild winters and as always a warm welcome from the natives.
This sport appeared in Ireland in the middle 1960s but it is only in the last few years that surfing has really grown popular in Ireland.
Spring and summer are the best times to hit Ireland for surfing, although conditions are good year round. The island of Ireland is also only 174 miles wide and 302 miles in so you might think about hitting a couple of surfing locales on your trails.
Here’s a rundown on some of the spots to take in on a surf vacation to Ireland.
Portrush, County Antrim, is the home of surfing in Northern Ireland, with waves on both its west and east strands. The town, whose name literally means “promontory port”, is built along a mile-long peninsula, Ramore Head. The seaside town also has a number of great surf schools offering lessons for adults and children.
The Donegal coast is rich in surfing waves, including Inishowen and Fanad Head, in the north, Dunfanagh, Bloody Foreland and Dungloe in the north west and Rossnowlagh (perfect for beginners and intermediate), outside Bundoran in the south. Bundoran, which has long been a popular summer spot, has become a very popular surf hang out.
Sligo’s coastlines is also a wealth of surfing fodder. The most famous surfing town is Strandhill, just outside Sligo town. The beach’s vast beach break is capable of holding huge waves in the right conditions.
Other top spots for surfing are Aughris, Easkey, and Enniscrone.
Belmullet, Achill Island and the beaches around in the Westport/ Louisburgh area are the main surfer magnets in County Mayo. Along with great access to the Atlantic swells you’ll also find expert tuition at Cross and Carrowiskey Beaches in Louisburgh and at Keel Beach in Achill.
Although the waves aren’t quite a large as some of the surfing spots along the west coast there are some good locations around the Clifden area.
Ballyconneely is the peninsula, jutting into the Atlantic between Clifden, to the north and Roundstone, to the south, it contains some of the most tranquil, unspoiled and interesting beaches and countryside to be found anywhere in the country.
Lahinch is the center of surfing in County Clare with waves scattered all along this very exposed coastline.
One major claims to surfing fame is that on May 14, 2006, 44 surfers managed to ride one small wave, setting a new world record.
Kerry’s diverse coastline is home to many surf spots from beach to reef to point.
The Dingle Peninsula has some great, but notoriously inconsistent, waves. The greatest concentration is around Brandon Bay on the north side. Inch Reef is a slumbering classic that rarely breaks but is reputedly one of the longest waves in the country, attracting crowds when it’s on.
The beaches surrounding Clonakilty are some of the most popular along most of the Cork coast. West Cork also has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Just some of the rebel county’s rebellious seas and scenic highlights include Barley Cove, Garrettstown, and Castlefreke. The endless beach at Inchydoney is the perfect place to get all the family wet suited and booted.
Tramore, meaning “long beach”, is Waterford’s surfing capital. The town is home to one of Ireland’s oldest and most active surf clubs, the T-Bay Surf Club. The sport was first brought to the town in 1967 by Irish surfing pioneer Kevin Cavey.
During big swell and wind locals also head to surf Killmurren Cove where there is some shelter and other breaks near-by often work when Tramore is blown out with big swell including Dunmore East, Bunmahon and Annestown.
Although the east coast doesn’t have quite as consistent waves as the west it does certainly have a surf spots including Skerries, in Dublin, and Curracloe, in Wexford. The East Coast Surf Club based in Dublin is one of the largest surf clubs in the county and members regularly surf on the beaches to the North and South of Dublin.
Here’s a beautiful short film on Euro charger Nico Von Rupp and Alain Riou catching some waves in Ireland:
Source: ISA, Discover Ireland and Tourism Ireland.