Ireland may be known for its pubs, draught, and emerald green countryside, but beer and potatoes aren’t all this tiny island nation has to offer. In recent years, Ireland has become increasingly popular as a surfing destination. “Gulf Stream storm activity generates large swells all year round, but the best times for surfing are in early summer or throughout the autumn months,” according to MAPS.ie.
Looking for somewhere unique to catch some waves? Here are five great locations in one of the world’s most underrated surfing spots.
Tullan Strand, Bundoran, County Donegal
Tullan Strand is a great spot for beginners just learning to surf, though it has something to offer for more experienced surfers as well. “At low tide, the cliffs at the end of the beach can produce fast hollow waves which definitely draw the majority of the crowd,” according to Red Bull, “however the waves mellow out as you head further down the beach.” Tullan Strand is awash in quality surf schools as well, some of which offer single classes for beginners — a great option if you are just wanting to get your toes wet in the sport of surfing.
While you’re there, check out the Tullan Strand horseback riding trail, which runs along the beach, and stop at Waves Cafe for a bite to eat.
Rossnowlagh, County Donegal
Home to Ireland’s longest running surf competition, the Irish Inter Counties Surfing Championship, Rossnowlagh is a quiet beach with fairly consistent surf. According to Discover Ireland, “The surf here is perfect for beginners and the local surf school offers tuition and equipment rental.” Rossnowlagh is a Blue Flag beach.
When you’ve finished surfing, warm up at The Thatch Teahouse and sample their handmade baked goods or delicious cooking.
Easkey, County Sligo
Recognized worldwide as a top surf spot, Easkey is a reef break that is surfable year-round. “Easkey has two reef breaks — one to the left, just by the river mouth and another to the right, east of the castle,” according to Easkey’s website.
After you’ve pulled yourself from the water, check out Easkey Abbey or the town’s unusual Split Rock. You can also view O’Dowd castle and Rathee Tower nearby.
Ballybunion, County Terry
Named back in the day when men and women visited the beach separately, Ballybunion has two main beaches: Men’s Beach and Women’s Beach. Men’s Beach is a great spot for surfers and has both beach and reef breaks. “While beginners can stick to the smaller and easy to maneuver waves close to the shore,” according to Skyscanner, “more advanced surfers can head out to the Atlantic Cliff breaks for more challenging waves.
When you are done for the day, head over to Women’s Beach to check out the shallow caves or take a walk by the Bromore Cliffs.
Mullaghmore, County Sligo
Known for its giant waves, Mullaghmore is a spot for pros only. “The waves here have been known to break bones and boards in, particularly intense weather,” according to an article on Surfer Today. The waves at Mullaghmore are a left-hander reef break and the bottom is extremely rocky. Still, the waves are surf-able, and a great challenge for those looking to test their skills.
When you’ve finished catching the waves, take some time to relax at Voya Seaweed Baths, or check out the nearby Classiebawn Castle.
When surfing on the Emerald Isle, don’t forget to pack a coat, and keep in mind that you may need to pack or rent a wetsuit for surfing. Ireland’s surfing scene isn’t known as a “cold Hawaii” for no reason. Even in the summer months, you can expect cloudy days with rain. At its warmest, the water in Ireland is about 17 degrees Celsius or 62 degrees Fahrenheit. As long as you are properly prepared and know what to expect, Ireland’s waves shouldn’t disappoint. Whether hitting the surf or soaking in the island’s breathtaking scenery, a trip to Ireland isn’t one you are sure to forget.