Ireland surfing spots and season
As cold water surfing became feasible due to wetsuit improvements in the 2000s, Ireland’s surf scene exploded. And for good reason. The country is blessed with full, open exposure to everything the Atlantic can throw at it. Combine that with a craggy coast lined with flat, slate reefs, and you have the recipe for world class surf spots.
Granted it’s bitterly cold and winter water temps dip down to the mid-40s Fahrenheit, but most sessions are followed by a warmup at the local pub. Summer temps are a bit better with water rising up to the low 60s. Air temps hit freezing in winter and it’s not uncommon to see a light dusting of snow on nearby hillsides. Summer air temps are in the 60s, but it’s the constant wind and rain that produce an “endless winter” feel here.
Ireland has great surf all over its southwest, west and northwest coast. But the best conditions are centered around Bundoran. It’s a legit surf town with a beginner beachbreak at Tullen Strand, an intermediate reef break at “The Peak” and the nearby hell waves of Mullaghmore Head.
Tullen Strand is a straight-up beach break that favours south winds and not too much swell. There’s an excellent wedge-left in the south corner and surf schools abound in the summer season.
The Peak in central Bundoran is a sometimes hollow left and right that works through a lot of the tide due to the way the reef gradually slopes off into the sea. Be careful of the tides in Ireland, they are extreme and change quickly.
Mullaghmore Head is the monster left you might’ve seen in videos. It’s a death defying tube that breaks in front of exposed rocks. Thankfully, just around the corner is Mullaghmore Strand, an easier beach break suited for long boarding when the waves get too big.
Surf schools and lessons in Ireland
Murf’s Surf School gives lessons at Tullen Strand, which is the optimal learner beach in the area. Private one-hour bookings are 55€ while a group of two or more will set you back 35€. If you’re not taking lessons, they also rent equipment with wetsuits starting at 10€ per day (you’ll need it!).
For 35€ an hour you can learn from the folks at Surfworld Bundoran. All equipment is included, most often that means a 5/3 fullsuit and ISA approved soft top board. Advanced learner specialty lessons are available as well.
Turf’n’Surf is an all around Irish sports centre. They offer surf, SUP and sea kayak rentals and lessons. Private surf lessons start at 35€ and go up from there. The company also offers bus tours should you want to explore this beautiful country with a guide.
Surf hotels in Ireland
The hostel at Turf’n’Surf is a lively building with pub and all the amenities right on the main surf spot in Bundoran. It’s truly designed for a surfer’s stay with towels, hot showers, outdoor social areas and special wet gear storage. Dorm room rates start at 20€ per person for a max of six guests while private rooms start at 25€ per person with minimum of two guests. You can also book your surf lessons here.
For another on-the-Peak-at-Bundoran hotel try the Allingham Arms Hotel. It’s nothing special on the outside, but the rooms inside are modern and updated and several have a view of the surf. The pub and restaurant have a more traditional Irish decor. Rooms start at 90€.
The Atlantic Seaview 59 is an ocean view hotel overlooking the surf in the centre of town. Rooms start at 110€ per night and include the standard amenities. It doesn’t have the surfy vibe like the other places but the owners are cheery and knowledgable about day trips such as visiting the remains of a 12 century church just a few kilometres away.
Ireland surfing guide and tips prepared by Bryan Dickerson (wavepoolmag.com) for Dailystoke.com’s surf guides.
Photo by Leighton Smith