It’s the dream: Throwing a surfboard on top of the car and heading for the nearest coastline to let off steam and enjoy being away from it all. And, although Ireland’s cooler temperatures make the water less appealing at times, the country’s burgeoning waves, impressive breaks and flowing Gulf Stream make it a surfer’s paradise at the best of times.
In fact, Ireland has only grown in popularity among surfers in recent years, including locals who surf regularly, or those brave enough to give it a go for the first time. Whether you consider yourself a surfing pro or beginner, below we look at 10 of the best surfing spots to check out across Ireland’s many coastlines. So why not hop in the car and enjoy an Irish driving holiday to remember as you travel from coast to coast catching some of the best waves in Europe?
10 Irish Surfing Holidays to Consider
1 Rossnowlagh, Donegal
Awarded one of Ireland’s and Europe’s top beaches for Blue Flag surfing, Rossnowlagh is a hotspot for surf fans from far and wide. The 3,000-metre beach has waves up to seven metres high and its positioning along Donegal Bay make it an ideal setting for surfers of every level.
2 Bundoran, Donegal
Like Rossnowlagh, Bundoran is one of the many Donegal hotspots that have made the north-west of Ireland one of the best places to catch waves in Ireland (many would argue the best). Bundoran holds the title of the surf capital of Ireland, and for good reason, as the town has many great surfing schools just waiting to get you started – Bundoran Surf Co being one such school.
Bundoran’s beaches attract surfers from all over the world, and the town has played host to the European Surfing Championships in the past. With great waves guaranteed across the year, a surfing trip to Bundoran will certainly give you plenty of entertainment whether you’re travelling with friends, family or on your lonesome.
3 Easkey, Sligo
A well-known spot in the surfing world, Easkey in Co. Sligo attracts surfers from around the world to its shores lined with reefs and world-renowned breaks. It’s not a beach for beginners but certainly a spot for any surfing enthusiasts keen to up their game. When you’ve finished hitting the waves at Easkey’s two reefs, take the time to explore this picturesque village, ensuring O’Dowd Castle, Rathlee Tower and Easkey Bridge are on your list of things to see.
4 Inchydoney Island, Cork
A great spot for beginners, Inchydoney has smaller breaks in comparison to other beaches and the popular Inchydoney Surf School to ensure you get off to a good start. For a closer look at the beach and to keep an eye on the daily surf, you can watch the Inchydoney Island beach cam.
The popular Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa is the perfect base for many, while the nearby town of Clonakilty also has a range of accommodation offers and plenty to see and do should you be looking an extended break along Ireland’s south coast.
5 Aileen’s Wave, Clare
Home to the “perfect wave”, as decreed by scientists at the University of Galway, “Aileen’s Wave” in Co. Clare is seen as a mystical surf spot, with the famous “perfect wave” only appearing a few times every year and when the weather conditions are exactly right. When “the perfect wave” does appear it can reach as high as 12 metres. Suffice it to say, these types of waves are better trialled with a few years’ surfing experience under your belt!
Aileen’s Wave is located at the famous Cliffs of Moher on the Cliff Coast route along the Wild Atlantic Way, so if you’re lucky to catch the perfect wave here, spend time exploring the sights of the cliffs and the nearby town of Doolin and Burren National Park. The popular coastal town of Lahinch, which lies about 15-minutes from the Cliffs of Moher is also great for a surfing holiday, attracting visitors across the year.
6 Portrush Strand, Antrim
Located on Antrim’s famous Causeway Coast & Glens coastal drive, Portrush has become well known for the reliable surf at its two beaches spread across either side of the town. Around summer times the waves can be underwhelming but offshore winds from the southwest often liven things up. A 10-minute drive to the town of Bushmills, home to the Bushmills Distillery, and only 15 minutes from the Giant’s Causeway, when you’re not surfing in Portrush, there’ll be plenty to keep you busy.
7 Mullaghmore, Sligo
With consistent waves throughout the year, Mullaghmore is a great spot for catching waves on a regular basis. Waves have been known to reach heights of 15 metres and therefore catering to the more experienced surfers. If you’re looking for waves that are less overwhelming in the area, try nearby Strandhill (just under 40 minutes’ drive away). Sligo has a number of great surfing destinations, and along with some of Donegal’s popular hangouts, they form the stretch of land known as Surf Coast along the Wild Atlantic Way, so you know you’re going to find some good waves here.
8 Inch Strand, Kerry
With its three-mile long stretch spit reaching into the Dingle Peninsula, this beach claims the prize for hosting the longest waves in Europe and is unsurprisingly a mecca for surfers wanting to ride waves over long distances.
With a stunning beach and the Kerry Mountains in the distance, Inch Strand makes for a very picturesque surfing location and a holiday destination with plenty to offer. For beginners, Kingdom Waves, located on Inch beach, is a great surf school to ensure you feel comfortable out on the water.
9 Tramore, Waterford
Located on the stunning Copper Coast Drive (recently included in our top 10 Irish driving holidays for 2017), Tramore is the surfing hub of activity in Waterford, and a perfect location for beginners and intermediate surfers. The town has several surf schools to help get you introduced to the water, while it also has many popular watering holes for you to relax and unwind in following a long day on the waves. If the weather is good, there are few things that will rival surfing in Tramore.
10 Brittas Bay, Wicklow
While the west coast of Ireland is most popular for surfing, counties like Wexford and Wicklow are starting to offer surfing breaks, with the latter home to the only dedicated surfing school on the east of Ireland, the Brittas Bay Surf School. The picturesque Brittas beach is the location for surfing in Wicklow, and at only a 30-minute drive from Dublin, and a 15-minute trek from Wicklow Town, this is a great place to escape from the hustle and bustle of Dublin city life.
Brittas Bay provides the perfect environment to get introduced to surfing, allowing you to literally dip your toe in the water to see if this is a sport for you. If it is, great, if not, you can always head off and explore the stunning Wicklow Mountains.
Where is Your Favourite Irish Surfing Location?
Are you a keen surfer or a watersports enthusiast? Where is your favourite surfing location in Ireland and when is the best time to go? Let us know below or by sharing your Irish surfing stories with us on Facebook and Twitter.
Images courtesy of Fáilte Ireland.