Surfing in Ireland: The Best Surf Spots on the Emerald Isle
Ireland isn’t exactly a country that you’d expect to be big on surfing. But actually, the sport has been growing in popularity across the nation. The Emerald Isle has the perfect conditions for surfing, with a huge coastline that’s wracked by storms and powerful waves. The water might be a bit chilly but that’s nothing a wetsuit can’t deal with, and you can find excellent conditions around the island.
The wild west coast is hit by enormous surges from the Atlantic Ocean, and you can find some monster waves throughout the year. The east and south coasts can be a bit a calmer, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some great surfing spots here either. Ireland has surfing locations for every ability, too. From beginners right through to the professionals, there’s something for everyone here.
To inspire your trip, here are the best surf spots to visit in Ireland.
Overlooking the stormy Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Ireland, Bundoran is often claimed to be the Emerald Isle’s surfing capital. Bundoran, in County Donegal, is home to some great surf schools, and you can find beaches and waves suitable for almost any ability along the coastline.
The town is set up for surf tourism too, and is seeing a huge increase in travelling surfers arriving year on year. There’s not only great surf, but a great community of like-minded locals and visitors that help to ensure Bundoran remains a firm favourite on many surfers’ itineraries.
Just down the road from Bundoran is the small Irish village of Mullaghmore. The tiny population of Mullaghmore is far outweighed by the surfers and tourists that visit the coast here, because the waves have a fearsome reputation.
Mullaghmore is not a place for beginners to surf, but even if you don’t have much experience you might want to visit to see what a professional wave looks like. Mullaghmore is famed for its monstrous waves, some of which regularly break over 10 metres in height. The surf here is good enough to warrant Mullaghmore to be consistently featured in professional competitions.
Easkey is big on the surfing circuit in Ireland, so much so that the Irish Surfing Association moved to the small village in County Sligo to establish its headquarters. Experienced surfers love the big breaks that are consistently found here, while there are several great surfing schools along the coast that can help beginners to get started on some of the quieter beaches close to Easkey.
If you are looking for an iconic surfing destination to visit when you are in Ireland, then Easkey is, quite simply, the legendary location that you are searching for.
Also found in County Sligo on the west coast of Ireland, Enniscrone is another favourite surfing beach overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The beach here is long, and even before surfing arrived in Ireland it was always a firm favourite getaway location amongst locals and visitors alike. The sand stretches for almost five kilometres from the town, and there is plenty of space for surfers and non-surfers alike. The waves are consistent along the coast, and you can find some beautifully secluded spots, despite Enniscrone’s ever-growing popularity amongst tourists.
The Cliffs of Moher are a well-worn part of the Wild Atlantic Way. Found close to Galway on the west coast, the cliffs are one of Ireland’s most dramatic natural sights. The weather-beaten and surf-battered cliffs are over one hundred metres in height in some places, and you would never imagine that anyone could surf in the raging ocean below.
Some people are crazy enough to do just that though, because the Cliffs of Moher can be the site of Aileen’s Wave, one of the biggest waves in the world. This is for brave, professional level surfers because Aileen is enormous – often over 12 metres in height – and the slightest mistake can be fatal. Aileen can also be rather mysterious, as the wave isn’t a regular occurrence. Weather conditions have to be perfect for her to make her appearance, with fierce storms usually providing the fuel for her meteoric rise from the ocean. When she does appear though, it’s always an epic sight.
Crab Island is also found along the Wild Atlantic Way, not far from the Cliffs of Moher. While the waves won’t match Aileen for size and power, they are still impressive. The waves aren’t for the faint hearted or for the inexperienced, as wrong moves can put you in danger amongst the rocks and the churning ocean.
The waves form big barrels, but they are consistent all through the year, making it a popular spot for surfers looking to tackle some larger surf when they are on the west coast of Ireland.
Inchydoney is just a small island that’s connected to the mainland by a causeway, but it’s one of the biggest surfing spots along Ireland’s south coast, particularly for beginners. Found in County Cork, there are two great beaches here, separated in the middle by a small headland.
While the waves aren’t quite as enormous as the towering waves found on the west coast, the conditions here are perfect for those who are just starting, and there are a few surf schools catering to learners. The surf here is stable and consistent, while access to the beaches is simple.
County Mayo is home to the beautiful surrounds of Achill Island, which is found just off the coast but connected by a bridge to the rest of Ireland. Achill Island has spectacular cliffs, wonderful beaches and is perfectly set up for surfers.
There are several sandy beaches around the island, which is one of the largest islands in the country. As well as surfing, Achill Island makes for a great place to explore when you aren’t in the water, with charming coastal villages and incredible scenery awaiting travellers.
Tramore, in County Waterford, is a great location along the southern coast to hit the waves. This was one of the original surfing spots in Ireland, while the beautiful coastline, bays and beaches have long attracted holidaymakers looking to experience the best of the south coast.
There are several great surfing beaches around Tramore, ensuring that even if some spots aren’t looking good on the day, that there are other great spots nearby that you can still hit up. The town has a wide range of surfing schools and shops, as for decades this is a destination that has been at the forefront of Irish surfing.
Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way has plenty of incredible surfing spots, but one of the must-visit locations when you are on the west coast, is Ballybunion. Found in County Kerry, Ballybunion has long stretches of golden, sandy beaches.
Add in the dramatic cliffs, the historic castles found along the coast, and the charming local community, and Ballybunion has all you need to create the perfect surfing spot. The most popular beaches are Men’s’ and Ladies’ Beaches, which used to be segregated places dependent on your gender. That’s all far in the past now, and you can freely surf all along the coast where the conditions are great for beginners right up to experienced surfers.
Also located in County Kerry, Inch Beach is a haven for surfers along the Wild Atlantic Way. The huge beach stretches for at least five kilometres along the coast, with a wide foreshore that is backed by beautiful scenery around the Bay of Dingle.
You can find consistent waves right off the beach, while there are several surf schools ready to teach beginners in this great surfing spot. As well as the surfing, you can enjoy spectacular sunsets, particularly in the summer months, while the length of the beach ensures that there is plenty of room for everyone, even through the busy peak season. It’s easy to find secluded, isolated spots where you can enjoy the sands, the views and the surf with only a few other people around to disturb you.
Tullan Strand is a beach that overlooks the choppy waters of Donegal Bay. The beach is close to Bundoran, Ireland’s famous surfing capital, and many surfers will make the journey here while using the nearby town as their base to hit the waves all along the coast here.
The long beach ensures that there are some big, uninterrupted waves all along the length of the sand, with easy access to the surf making it a good spot for the less experienced, as well as a consistent spot for the more experienced. The beach itself is beautiful, while the proximity to Bundoran makes it excellent if you are looking for a convenient spot to learn the ropes when you are first getting started with the sport.
Part of Clare County along the western Atlantic coastline of Ireland, Lahinch is a small village that has grown into a popular surfing destination in recent years. In the warm summer months, the town’s population surges with visitors looking to escape to the coast and to explore the remarkable history that’s found here.
Surfers are amongst the many travellers visiting, but because there is only one beach that has consistent and safe conditions, it can get crowded. It’s worth braving the busy shoreline though, because Lahinch is an excellent surfing spot. Considering how small Lahinch is there
is an unwarranted number of surf schools and shops, alongside all the other amenities you might need while you are visiting.
The Atlantic coast has some huge waves, and one of the biggest that’s encountered on the west coast of Ireland is Riley’s Wave. The wave is found near to Lahinch, which is the perfect base if you are looking ride it. You need patience, however, because like the other monster waves that are found along the Wild Atlantic Way – Aileen’s being the most famous and largest – Riley’s Wave can be a rare sight indeed.
Conditions need to be perfect for the wave to hit the coast, meaning you’re going to need tumultuous surfing conditions. That makes this a wave for the hardcore surfers or the professionals, who are willing to risk it all for the thrill of riding one of Ireland’s biggest waves.
County Waterford has some of the best surfing spots in Ireland, and one excellent location to visit if you are looking for solid conditions in the water is Bunmahon. The small holiday town has an increasingly popular surf scene, and you can surf here all year round as long you head out in a wetsuit to keep off the chill in winter.
Bunmahon isn’t far from the other south coast surfing destination of Tramore, which is also in County Waterford, making the whole coastline here perfect for surfers, and in particular for beginners looking for easier conditions than the much wilder west coast.
Portrush, Northern Ireland
It’s not part of the Republic of Ireland of course, but when it comes to the Emerald Isle, Portrush in Northern Ireland is one of the best surfing spots in the north. The small coastal town is part of County Antrim, and it’s often touted to be the surfing capital of Northern Ireland.
There are great waves here for all abilities, and if you are just entering into the world of surfing then you can find some of the best and longest running surf schools in the UK at Portrush. There are great beaches by the town, making access easy, while there is plenty of accommodation for surfers to be found all along the coast. Beginners can tackle the waves at Portrush East Strand, while if you are looking for more challenging breaks, then head to Portrush West Break, where the surf is much, more challenging. Few other towns anywhere in Ireland offer such an array of conditions so close to each other.
To book your surfing trip to the Emerald Isle, contact Overland Ireland today.