Surf’s Up this Summer – the Best Irish Surf Spots
- Gear advice
- Wednesday 16th May, 2018
- By Paul
What feels more like summer than surfing? Especially after a long and cold winter, strapping the surfboard to the top of the car and heading out to catch a few waves feels like a holiday in its own right.
While the sea up here may be a bit colder than, say, Australia or South Africa, amateur and professional surfers alike can find plenty of great breaks in Ireland.
We asked some of our in-store staff surfers about their favourite places to go surfing in Ireland.
Undoubtedly, one of the first spots any Irish surfer will brag about is Lahinch in County Clare. Nestled in the beautiful Liscannor Bay on Ireland’s west coast, Lahinch is a small town with big things to do. The beach has an excellent shape and is always busy, with locals and advanced surfers catching waves right in the centre while beginners can find gentler peaks to the north.
Alfonso Molina, our resident surfing expert, likes Lahinch not only for its consistent breaks but also for its accessibility. “It’s good for a camp out,” Alfonso says. “There’s plenty of hotels and hostels, but I like to trek and camp when the weather is good.”
Senan Doyle from our outdoors department also visits Lahinch. “You can rent a board or wetsuit if you really need to–there’s plenty of surf shops and schools in the area. Renting a wetsuit might feel kind of…gross, but if you’re not sure if surfing’s for you, you can do it, no problem.”
Alfonso’s choice surf spot, however, is Spanish Point. Also located in County Clare, Spanish Point is an exposed reef and point break that has fairly consistent surf year round. It’s only 15 minutes south of Lahinch, but Alfonso holds that the conditions can be better here if the winds are strong.
“It can be calm and okay for beginners sometimes, but I’ve surfed 3-4 metre breaks off the reef. There’s loads of options for all levels, though.” He also advises to take advantage of one of the many surf schools in the area. “They’re all pretty affordable and can be really helpful, even if you know how to surf. The instructors can teach you about the area, and that can be key.”
Surfers with a little less experience–or anyone nervous about surfing off of a reef break–might find Strandhill in Sligo a bit more to taste. Sand-bottomed and northwest-facing, Strandhill is the perfect spot for anyone looking for an easy paddle-out and a consistent stream of waves.
“It’s a great little beach and surf town,” Alfonso says. “And it’s the perfect place to take lessons if you’re a beginner. Not too hard to paddle out, and the waves usually aren’t too big.”
If you’re really looking to get off the beaten track and be at one with the sea, consider heading to Portacloy. Grá, our diving/surfing pro, strongly recommends this County Mayo haven. “There’s nothing at all around. The nearest town is Belmullet, about 20km away, so you’re really out there.”
While Grá likes diving off of Portacloy pier and snorkeling with Basking Sharks, she holds that the break is good for surfing as well. “It’s not too big, so it’s alright for beginners. But because you’re really out there, go with friends or people you trust.
Anyone who’s been in the sea off of the Irish coast knows that a good surfing wetsuit is an absolute year-round must. Alfonso prefers the Billabong brand. He uses a 4 millimeter wetsuit, but choose what’s most comfortable for you. “Some people like thinner wetsuits, like a 3:2 and don’t mind the cold so much. But most people here use a 5:4, because the water can be really, really cold.”
He also uses a thick pair of booties to prevent his feet from freezing while in the water.
Grá uses a 5:4 suit as well, and then a nice Mountain Equipment jacket over her wetsuit while out of the water. “It can get cold and wet while you’re heading out to dive or surf. It’s always a good idea to bring a rain jacket with you.”
Let Us Help!
Don’t head out on a surf trip without feeling totally confident. Come into our store on Chatham Street if you have questions or want more recommendations from our experienced staff. We’ll make sure that you leave with the right gear and a good plan of attack for your next adventure.
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