The typical images associated with surfing are those of white sand beaches, balmy waters, tropical islands, and a blazing sun. Thus the thought of Ireland as a surfing destination may come as a surprise; however, here’s why you should visit Ireland for surfing:
Sporting over 4 600 miles of rugged coastline around the Emerald Isle, Ireland has some of the best year-round surfing conditions in Europe, particularly for experienced surfers looking for challenging swells. However, it is vital you are prepared for some cold temperatures throughout the year.
While Ireland may be best known for pub tours, rolling green hills, and friendly locals, surfing is growing in popularity in the country, making it worth a visit for beginner, intermediate, and advanced surfers.
What To Know About Surfing In Ireland?
Ireland is an accommodating and easy country to navigate for international visitors; however, there are a few things one should know if they decide to visit Ireland for a surfing trip.
1. When Is The Best Time To Go Surfing In Ireland?
Different seasons can change up ocean swells, meaning that the various ocean temperatures and conditions will appeal to surfers of varying experience levels throughout the year.
As a result, every season needs to be analyzed with regard to the area you want to surf, as this will determine the ocean conditions and temperatures which require different preparation:
- Fall: considered the best time for surfing in Ireland, the months between September and November, as the Atlantic Ocean becomes consistent, the weather is fairly mild, and the lack of tourists means affordable accommodation during your stay.
- Winter: surfing in the winter months between December and February should be reserved for advanced surfers looking for challenging big swells. Bear in mind that the water and temperature can drop to dangerously low temperatures, meaning a thick wetsuit, booties, and hoodie are all non-negotiable.
- Spring: while you can still catch some waves off the North Atlantic, the spring months between March and May are considered the worst time to surf in Ireland due to inconsistent swells and cold water temperatures.
- Summer: similar to other European surfing destinations, the summer months between June and August are the perfect time for beginner surfers due to calmer swells and warmer temperatures.
Therefore, you should plan your trip according to your surfing level and your preferred conditions. Bearing in mind that the Atlantic Ocean around Ireland is cold all year-round, meaning a wetsuit is necessary, even in the summer months.
Take note that summer may result in busier beaches and higher costs, while winter can prove a cheaper but more advanced option more akin to serious surfers than casual hobbyists.
2. Is There A Surfing Culture In Ireland?
While the first recorded instances of surfing in Ireland date back to the 1940s, it was the 1960s that saw the sport grow in popularity with the founding of the Bray Island Surf Club and the representation of Irish surfers at international events.
As a result of this growing popularity, Ireland is home to numerous surf shops and surf schools while also playing host to international surfing competitions, surfing music festivals, and surfing film festivals.
Home to over 20 000 surfers, Ireland’s surf culture is thriving and expanding and prides itself on the laidback nature and friendliness of its participants.
That being said, always be polite and friendly while respecting the spaces of other surfers when visiting Ireland, and it is more than likely that many a local will treat you to a secluded surfing spot or popular hangout!
Which Are The Best Surf Spots In Ireland?
Stretching over 4 600 miles, Ireland’s coastline is host to hundreds of surf spots that cater to beginner, intermediate, and professional surfers.
While it isn’t possible to list them all, especially since the locals keep many of the best surf spots a secret, let’s look at five of the best and most well-known surf spots across Ireland:
1. Strandhill Beach
Situated approximately 15 minutes away from the town of Sligo, Strandhill beach is considered a fantastic beginner beach for new surfers during the winter months while still offering enough variety during winter and autumn for more experienced surfers.
The swell itself consists of both left and right turns, with clean barrel action.
The beach also has a well-stocked and acclaimed surf shop/surf school to help new surfers in the area get to know the surf conditions and rent equipment.
Staying within Sligo county, Easkey, situated at the bottom of Donegal Bay, is considered to be one of Ireland’s most popular surfing destinations.
While the swell produces both left and right turns, each one provides a variety that caters to surfers of different experience levels throughout the year; however, consistency can be an issue.
Generally speaking, the left-hand turns produce more consistent 10-15 foot waves for intermediate surfers, while the rarer right-hand turns are famous for producing enormous waves suitable for advanced/professional surfers.
Situated in West Cork, Inchydoney is considered one of Ireland’s most beautiful and unspoiled beaches, despite being very popular with tourists during the warmer months.
Inchydoney is a longboard-friendly and versatile beach with a sandy bottom, making it better suited for beginner surfers, although the variation of both right and left-hand turns in the winter and autumn months provide enough variation for more advanced surfers.
In contrast to Inchydoney is Mullaghmore, situated in County Donegal.
Mullaghmore has some of the biggest wave breaks in the world, with a rocky bottom. Consequently, this break is reserved for advanced and professional surfers who are willing to endure a long paddle or tow-in to try to ride these massive waves.
5. Tullan Strand Beach
Finalizing our list is Tullan Strand Beach, situated in the town of Bundoran, a quaint seaside town popular with tourists due to its vibrant pubs and amusement parks.
With numerous surf schools, an active surfing community, and a variety of wave conditions throughout the year, Tullan Strand Beach is perfect for surfers and tourists from all walks of life.
Although Ireland may appear at face value to be a challenging surfing destination, the variety of surfing spots on offer, coupled with consistent swells, makes Ireland a perfect surfing destination for surfers of all experience levels!