Ireland’s Best Surfing Spots
With over 3,000 kilometers of coastline and the southern and western shores benefiting from the exposed North Atlantic, Ireland has established itself as a hot spot for surfers from all over the world. While the waters can be cold, they’re certainly made more manageable by the warming effects of the North Atlantic Drift.
Best time to surf in Ireland
For the biggest waves and clearest water, September to May is widely thought of as ‘surfing season’ in Ireland. However, that’s not to say you won’t find waves in the summer months. Ireland is an all-year-round surfing destination. However, when planning a trip, just be aware that like everywhere in Europe, summers can bring flat spells.
Where are the biggest waves in Ireland?
Ireland’s most iconic big wave is known as Aileen’s, named after the nearby Aill na Searrach cliffs and just off the Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare. You won’t see Aileen’s every day of the week. However, in stormy conditions with easterly offshore winds, you might be lucky enough to witness this fearsome and most sought-after wave roaring into life, up to a potential height of 12 meters. It was a Lahinch surf school owner, John McCarthy who became the first surfer to conquer the famous Aileen’s wave in 2005.
7 great Irish surfing spots
Ireland has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to surfing spots, here we’ll highlight just a few of our favourites.
Inch Strand, Co. Kerry
Experience level: Beginners
20 minutes from Dingle town is Inch Beach. Surrounded by the Kerry Mountains, it’s no wonder that this ‘Blue Flag’ awarded beach is regarded as one of the most beautiful in the country. Its consistent, all-year-round surf makes it a firm favourite among surfers too and its mellow, long waves make it a great spot for beginners. You’ll find a host of surf schools here providing summer camps, group lessons or individual lessons.
Another great thing about this location is, should you be unlucky with the waves on the day, the Dingle Peninsula is a playground of spectacular mountain and coastal walks to explore.
The Dingle Peninsula is covered by Discovery Series 1:50,000 sheet 70 and sheet 71 and can be purchased from our online shop.
Rossnowlagh, Co. Donegal
Experience level: All
Rossnowlagh stems from the Irish, Ros Neamhlach, which means ‘heavenly headland’. This Blue Flag beach certainly lives up to the name with one of the most outstanding views along the West coast.
The consistent nature of the waves and wind here makes it a very popular spot for all kinds of surfers including windsurfers and kitesurfers.
Some of you might recognise the beach as the setting for the music video for Nathan Carter’s version of Wagon Wheel!
Strandhill, Co. Sligo
Experience level: All
Strandhill is about 8 kilometres west of Sligo town. However, Strandhill itself is such a vibrant, fun and lively village, we doubt you’ll be rushing off anywhere else.
Under the right conditions the beach can hold huge waves but in general it’s well known for being very surfable even when the wind isn’t spot on. For advanced surfers dedicated to chasing the surf, Strandhill could be an ideal base. With the renowned swells of Easkey to one side and Bundoran to the other, we’d fancy your odds of catching big waves in one place or the other.
Easkey, Co. Sligo
Experience level: All
Another County Sligo beach, with its own beautiful village is Easkey.
Easkey has garnered quite a reputation internationally over the years and was even listed as a must-visit spot for surfing enthusiasts by Surfer Magazine, the biggest surfing publication in the world.
The waves here break over rocks rather than sand and are referred to as ‘reef breaks.’ Reef breaks tend to mean hollower and faster waves and will light up the eyes of experienced surfers but won’t be suitable for beginners. There are however plenty of local beaches that cater to beginners. Talk to the local surf schools and you’ll be well looked after, whatever your level of surfing experience.
Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo
Experience level: Best leave this one to the pros…
A third Sligo beach on the list, but the surfing enthusiast would never forgive us if we overlooked the internationally renowned Mullaghmore.
Mullaghmore is one of the world’s top big wave surfing spots with Surfer Today calling it ‘one of the most feared spots in Europe’.
Only very experienced surfers should take on the massive tubes on offer here, but even if you don’t fall into that category, Mullaghmore is still well worth a visit. There’s so much beauty take in, whether it’s watching the pros navigate the giant barrel waves or visiting the nearby Classiebawn Castle or Benbulben Mountain.