The 5 Things You Need to Know Before Going Surfing in Ireland
Just fifteen years ago Ireland was a sleepy backwater of surfing, a few travellers would visit, guys from the UK who were in the know would make the regular ferry ride and slow drive across the country. But beyond that, the perfect points and reefs laid pretty quiet.
Then surf exploration and travel was opened up by cheaper air fares and a desire to find the next perfect wave. In Ireland they found hundreds, and if it wasn't enough to find loads of perfect waves, explorers found big wave spots. Like no one believed existed. In the space of a few years Ireland went from sleepy backwater to surfing Mecca.
[part title="When’s the Best Time to Go Surfing in Ireland?"]
Ireland gets waves year round. Summers like anywhere in Europe can result in prolonged flat spells, but there are swells at any time of the year. If you're a novice then spring and summer is probably the time to go, as it's a little warmer and there are loads of places to learn to surf in Bundoran and Lahinch especially.
If it's good waves you want though, then the time to go is the autumn and into the early winter. September to December is best the water and air temperatures are still mild and the swell pumps out of the Atlantic.
There are three main areas to head to, Bundoran in County Donegal for its heavy reefs and big wave spots, Easky in Sligo for fun points and reefs and Co. Clare for big wave spots and heavy slabs. There is something for everyone in the winter in Ireland.
[part title="What are the waves like for surfing in Ireland?"]
There is the odd beach break in Ireland, Tullan Strand for example in Bundoran is an excellent place to learn to surf in the summer, but really Ireland is all about reef and point breaks, that's what attracts surfers from across the globe.
These breaks come in all shapes and sizes as well and for the novice to the full on pro hell man. If you're looking for mellow, the reefs and points of Easky and Lahinch are are great place to hang out and get a few waves.
If you are thinking more along the lines of getting tubed, then Bundoran and the slabs of Clare are where you want to be. These are not for the inexperienced though and give the local crew plenty of respect and you'll get waves.
Then there are the big wave spots, Aileen's beneath the Cliffs of Moher, G-Spot and Mullaghmore up near Bundoran. These spots are only for the big wave men, they are hard to get to and require years of experience, but if you're then when there is a swell, they are worth watching.
[part title="Which wetsuit do you need for surfing in Ireland?"]
Sadly despite it being epic for waves, Ireland is also known for its weather. Summers are brief, the water temperature rarely gets over the mid teens in centigrade, so you need a wetsuit year round if you want to get in the water.
Summer time and you may just get away with a 3/2mm but are probably going to be more comfortable in a 4/3mm. In the winter though things get cold, really cold, and so a full steamer up to 6mm with built in hood is the best option.
[part title="What surfboard would I need in Ireland"]
Depending on what you normally ride, short or longboards, then that's what you'll need most of the time in Irish waves. The surf is powerful but you can pick and choose what you go out in so it suits your ability and the quiver you own.
If you want to use an Irish surf trip to step up your performance levels a bit though then it's wise to take a step up board. Something with a little more length known as a semi gun. So if you ride a 6'2 normally that would be a 6'6 or a 6'8.
[part title="Is surfing in Ireland dangerous?"]
Some breaks can get crowded, but generally if you show respect you'll be greeted with nothing but a friendly welcome. Wildlife is all of the friendly variety, and whilst Guinness hangovers are serve at times, they aren't really that dangerous.
The main thing to worry about is the power of the waves and the reef. Whilst not sharp like coral, the barnacle encrusted slabs of rock are pretty harsh to connect with especially when a wave is breaking on top of you. It's the number one danger, and you should always be respectful of the power of the ocean.