The summer is now in full swing and it’s time to put your ‘work from home’ keyboard aside, pop on your wet suit and swap surfing the web for real life waves. Ireland mightn’t have year-round sunshine but we do have plenty of great spots to surf. With AA Membership, you can access Ireland’s best surf spots with peace of mind, no matter how remote they are. Our patrols are available 24/7 to rescue members in the case of a breakdown, any day of the year.
Before you hit the water, keep the following rules in mind:
1. Never surf alone.
2. Only surf if you can swim.
3. Never drink alcohol and surf.
4. Check for local knowledge with experienced local surfers and lifeguards. They will be aware of potential dangers and can best advise you.
5. Have fun!
Now all you’ve got to do is choose where to go…
Whiterocks Beach, Antrim. Photo by Giogio Galeotti.
The Portrush area boasts three Blue Flag beaches. East Strand and Curran Strand are both excellent surfing and swimming spots, with Whiterocks Beach also popular with surfers and body boarders. The nearby Portstewart Beach is also great for catching waves, and there’s the added bonus of being able to drive your car onto the beach to park. There are several surf schools in the area, with equipment also available for rental. When you exit the water, you’ll find that Portrush has lots of other activities on offer for visitors. The Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a 20-minute drive, 40-minute cycle or an, eh, two and a half hour walk from the town. Boat tours and fishing trips are also on offer if you need a break from the board. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head back into town and refuel at the many cafés and restaurants there. You could even top off your day at Barry’s Amusements in the town centre.
Bundoran, Donegal. Photo by Sean MacEntee.
Located off the N15 in Donegal, Bundoran is a year-round surf spot. There are lots of great beaches and reef breaks in the area, so you can switch it up daily with wave types for all levels. Beginners might want to start at Rossnowlagh or Tullan, whereas the more experienced surfer may prefer The Peak. This place always attracts a crowd, gathering to watch the more skilful practitioners on show. If it’s good enough for world champion Kelly Slater, it’s good enough for us.
Mayo and Achill Island
Keel Beach, Achill. Photo by Eric Verleene.
If you’re touring the Wild Atlantic Way, Mayo should be on your itinerary. Top locations for surfing include the beaches at Belmullet, Achill Island and Westport. Carrowniskey Strand in Louisburgh is suitable for all levels of surfer and perfect for beginners. Equipment can be hired at the various surf schools if you need it. There are also plenty of other activities to enjoy around Westport and Castlebar post-swim. You could climb Croagh Patrick, hire a bike and travel along The Great Western Greenway, or stop for lunch and a wander around beautiful Newport village.
Clonakilty, West Cork
Dunworley Beach, Cork. Photo by Conor O’Neill.
Clonakilty may be famous for its black pudding but it’s also a great place to surf. The Blue Flag beach at Inchydoney, just outside Clonakilty town, is a very manageable 13-minute cycle away and has excellent surfing conditions. Long Strand, south of the town, will take around 40 minutes by bike or 15 minutes by car. Dip your toes in the Atlantic and gaze out to Galley Head Lighthouse once there. Surfers are advised to head to the top end of the beach for their fun. On the other side of Clonakilty is Dunworley Beach, which is tidal and popular with both body boarders and surfers alike. Once your done, treat yourself to an evening fry complete of course with some local black pudding!
Inch Beach, Kerry
Inch Beach. Photo by Fred Montwell.
Inch Beach is a 5km-long Blue Flag beach on the Kerry coastline. If taking the car, it’s a 45-minute drive or two-hour cycle from Killarney. It’s a slightly shorter journey for those coming from Tralee, and will take approximately 35 minutes by car or 1 hour and 40 minutes by bike. If you don’t have all the surfy bits, never fear! You can hire equipment and book lessons when you get there. Inch Beach is also a great spot for swimming if you want to practise your backstroke. Deep sea fishing trips and river and lake fishing are possible in the area as well, just make sure you have the correct permits to do so. You can purchase them easily in a selection of local shops.
Brittas Bay, Wicklow
Brittas Bay, Wicklow. Photo by Terry Straehley.
You haven’t experienced an Irish summer unless you’ve spent an afternoon huddled behind a wind-breaker, eating tinfoil wrapped sandwiches in Brittas Bay. The wind can really whip up at Brittas, which makes for ideal surfing and body boarding conditions. If you are an absolute beginner or want to improve your skills, there is a surf school in the area which runs from Easter to Halloween (and sometimes beyond). Surf’s up!
The Copper Coast, Waterford
Bunmahon Beach, Waterford. Photo by Alan Piper.
Not only does Waterford have its own cycling greenway but it promises great surfing too. Bunmahon Beach on The Copper Coast is a UNESCO Global Geopark and a half-hour drive from Waterford City. If you’ve never surfed before, there’s a surf school two minutes from the beach. They also have everything you’ll need for hire before you hit the water. Parking is available if you choose to take the car and there are plenty of spaces to lock up your bikes as well. If you’ve worked up an appetite, a take-away is located right across from the beach and for children, there’s even an enclosed playground.
Lahinch Beach, Clare. Photo by Chairego apc.
The famous rocky landscape of The Burren is just part of Clare’s appeal as it’s also home to some incredible surfing beaches. One of the best known surfing beaches in the country, Lahinch, is located within a 5-minute drive of Ennistimon and a half-hour drive of Ennis. Popular with surfers and kite surfers of all abilities, there are several surf schools on the beach and also plenty of cafés and restaurants in the beach town. South of there, Doonbeg’s White Strand Beach is ideal for beginners as is Spanish Point. If you need lessons or a surfboard, surf schools and hire shops are dotted along the coast.
Worry about standing upright on your surfboard and not about getting stranded by becoming an AA Member. You’ll have peace of mind every time you travel, knowing that our patrols are available 24/7 to assist members in the event of a breakdown. Purchase AA Membership today from just €10 per month.
For wheelchair users and people of different abilities, there is a comprehensive guide to wheelchair accessible beaches here .