The Short Answer
You betcha! It may be chillier and windier than southern California, but Ireland gets large, sometimes monstrous, Atlantic waves.
The No Waves, No Glory Answer
The rugged coastal regions in the west and north, along with the southern Irish shore, revel in the powerful impact of the waves of the mighty Atlantic as they make their way toward the more serene shorelines of Europe, providing excellent conditions for surfers from around the world. In summer, they flock to the beaches at Portstewart Strand, widely recognized as one of Ireland's top spots for powerful surf. Lesser known is Lahinch, in County Clare on the western coast, which is sometimes overshadowed by its popular golf courses, but well known and appreciated among Irish surfers. Strandhill and Easkey in County Sligo are also popular spots. Ireland is particularly attractive to big wave surfers, an extreme sport that has grown in popularity with the success of the documentary movie "Riding Giants" (2004). The Cliffs of Moher have become famous for a sixty-foot monster wave known as Aill na Searrach, which featured in the Irish documentary movie 'Waveriders' (2007).
When to Surf
Due to the chilly temperatures of the wild Atlantic waters, surfing is best for the timid during the late summer and early fall seasons. But the brave can be seen on the beaches year round, with the right attire and equipment, to enjoy some of the most rewarding waves of the year. Late fall, winter and spring bring even colder waters, but storms at sea bring bigger waves to the island's shores than any other time of the year.
Windsurfers also enjoy the Irish coast; the powerful breezes and waves make for a brisk, scenic outing. Windsurfing is also popular along the wide inland lakes and rivers.
Surf schools, equipment sales and rentals can be found wherever water and weather conditions make the sport especially satisfying, and always offer surfers an opportunity to brush up on their current skills and learn new ones. Regional and state wide clubs sponsor surfing tournaments and festivals throughout the summer season.
Tips for Surfers Visiting Ireland
- In many prime surfing locations, beach access is attained through private gates and roadways. Be careful to observe parking regulations and protect the environment from litter and other types of damage.
- Take lessons, if you are in need of instruction and want to surf. The Irish Surfing Association sponsors classes at all levels at a variety of locations around the country.
- Observe safety rules. Buy or rent the proper equipment before you head out to the waves, review conditions with other surfers and select a beach with conditions that match your level of skill and experience.
- Familiarize yourself with surfer's etiquette; observe how it is used on the beach and follow it when you enter the water. Obey the rules to avoid collision and injury, and to make some friends among your fellow surfers and enjoy the day.