The best beaches for surfing and water activities in Ireland
Ireland is an island located in the Atlantic Ocean that is famous for its beautiful beaches and great surfing conditions. In Ireland, you can find beaches for every level of fitness, as well as many surf schools that will help you learn the basics of this exciting sport.
TOP 10 best Irish beaches, wave heights and water activities
The first step to a safe holiday on the water is to understand that Ireland is located in the Atlantic Ocean, where the water can be quite cold even during the summer months. Therefore, for surfing and water activities in general, wetsuits should be used to keep you warm and comfortable in the water.
The second step is knowing the tide times of this harsh ocean.
The third step is choosing the right beach. There are many beaches in Ireland that are perfect for surfing:
1. Mullaghmore Head
Mullaghmore Head beach is located on the coast of western Ireland, in County Sligo. It is a very popular surfing spot due to its high waves, reaching heights of 15 metres or more on good days.
It is considered one of the best surfing beaches in the world, but only for professionals, as it is very dangerous for beginners.
The beach is about 3 kilometres long and there are many activities such as swimming, surfing, diving and fishing. The surrounding area also offers great places for walking and hiking.
One of the most interesting facts about Mullamore Head is that it hosts a surfing competition that attracts the best surfers in the world.
2. Curracloe Beach
Curracloe Beach is 11 kilometres long and is one of the most popular and beautiful beaches in Ireland. It is located in County Wexford in the south-east of the country and is famous for its white sand and clear waters.
The beach attracts many surfers due to its high waves and great surfing conditions. The waves at Carraclo can be up to 2 metres high.
Carraclo is a beach widely known for its use as a location for film shoots. In particular, the D-Day landing scenes in the 1997 film Saving Private Ryan and the 2015 romantic drama Brooklyn, starring Saoirse Ronan, were filmed on this beach.
3. Tramore Beach
Tramore Beach is one of Ireland’s popular beaches, located in County Waterford in the south-east of the country. It is famous for its high waves, making it an ideal surfing destination.
The waves at Tramore Beach can reach up to 3 metres high on a good day, which attracts many surfers from all over the world to the beach. The beach also offers other water sports such as kitesurfing or wakeboarding.
Tramore Beach is about 5 kilometres long, making it ideal for long walks along the coast or a morning jog. There are also plenty of cafes and souvenir shops on the beach, making it a great place for a family holiday.
4. Lahinch Beach
Lahinch is a beach on the west coast of Ireland, in County Clare. It attracts many surfing enthusiasts. The waves at Lahinch can be up to 2–3 metres high, making it ideal for surfing and other water sports.
The length of Lehinch beach is about 2 kilometres and there is always a place to get away and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding nature. Surfing and other water sports equipment can also be rented at the beach.
This beach is very popular with beginner surfers due to its relatively small waves and excellent infrastructure.
5. Whiterocks Beach
Whiterocks Beach is located on the north coast of Northern Ireland, County Antrim, near the town of Portrush. This beach is attractive due to its beauty and opportunities for various outdoor activities.
The beach is about 3 kilometres long and consists of golden sand and many rocks that create beautiful scenery. Surfing waves can reach 2–3 metres high on good days, making this beach popular with surfers.
Apart from surfing, Waitrox Beach offers other water sports such as kitesurfing or windsurfing. Diving and snorkelling equipment can also be rented here.
6. Killahoey Beach
Killahoey Beach is a surf beach located in the north-west of the country in Dunfanaghy, Donegal. It is in a great location overlooking the Tory and Horn islands.
The waves at Killahoe Beach can reach between 1 and 2 metres in height, making it popular with surfers. The beach is about 1.5 kilometres long, so there is always room to relax and play sports.
Killahoe Beach offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. Surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing and other water activities are available here. The beach also offers great opportunities for beach walks, picnics and barbecues.
7. Tullan Strand Beach
Tullan Strand Beach is located on the west coast of Ireland, near the town of Bundoran in County Donegal. This beach is a popular surfing destination and the waves can be up to 5 metres high. However, there are also areas with lower waves for beginner surfers.
Tallan Strand Beach is about 2 kilometres long and the sandy beach is wide enough to provide a secluded spot to relax.
Apart from surfing, Tallan Strand Beach offers other activities such as hiking, kitesurfing, paragliding and beach volleyball. There are also many cafes, restaurants and shops around the beach.
8. Strandhill Beach
Strandhill Beach is located in County Sligo in the west of Ireland. It is a popular surfing spot due to the high waves that frequent the area. The waves can be up to 3 metres high, so the beach attracts many surfers and extreme sports enthusiasts.
Strandhill Beach is about 5 kilometres long and there are several surfing and other water sports equipment rentals on the beach. There are also several cafes and restaurants on the beach where you can grab a bite to eat after an active day out.
Strandhill Beach is also a popular spot for walking and hiking along the coast. Close to the beach is Knocknarea Mountain, which offers stunning views of Sligo Bay and the surrounding countryside.
In addition, from the top of the mountain you can see the tomb of Queen Maeve, who is said to have been a bad woman. Therefore, traditionally, visitors are supposed to throw a stone on her tomb to make sure she stays underground. All in all, it’s a very interesting place with beautiful views and a fascinating history.
9. Stradbally Beach
Stradbally Beach is located on the south coast of County Waterford in Ireland. It is a quiet and secluded beach, popular with tourists looking for peace and privacy.
The wave heights at Stradbally Beach are not as high as other beaches in the county, and it is suitable for beginner surfers. At the same time, there are enough waves for practice and for those who already know how to surf.
The beach is about 1.5 kilometres long and offers a great view of the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to surfing, the beach offers hiking, fishing or just enjoying the beautiful scenery.
10. Rossnowlagh Beach
Rossnowlagh is a 3 kilometre long golden beach in County Donegal, in the north-west of Ireland. The beach is well known for its clear water and high waves, making it an ideal spot for surfing. The waves here can reach up to 2 metres high on a good day, especially in winter.
Apart from surfing, there are many other activities on Rosnowlagh Beach. You can go horse riding along the coast or take a long walk along the shore. There are also opportunities to go fishing or go to a café.
Kite surfing is an extreme sport in which a surfer uses a kite, known as a kite, to propel themselves across the water surface on a board. Ireland offers great conditions for kitesurfing due to its windy weather and numerous beaches.
There are many popular kitesurfing spots, including beaches on the West Coast where the wind is stronger, and the waves are higher. Some of the best kitesurfing spots in Ireland include beaches around Dublin city and Cork.
Specifics of surfing in Ireland
Surfing in Ireland can be challenging and demanding. But for those who are up for the challenge, the reward can be an unforgettable experience. Some of the features of local surfing are:
- Variable weather conditions: Ireland is known for its changeable weather conditions, which can change in a matter of minutes. Surfers need to be prepared for weather changes and have the right equipment to protect themselves from cold and rain.
- Big waves: Ireland is known for its big waves, which can reach heights of up to 10 metres. These waves can be dangerous, so it is important to be an experienced surfer to handle them.
- Currents: Some beaches in Ireland can have strong currents, which can make surfing more challenging. Surfers need to be careful and pay attention to the currents when choosing a beach to surf.
- Cold water: The water in Ireland can be cold even during the summer months, so it is essential to have the right equipment to protect yourself from the cold.
- Tides: The coastline of Ireland can experience tides of varying strength and duration, which shapes the height of the waves. It also affects the depth of the water and the shape of the ground on the seabed, which can affect the safety of surfing.
Therefore, before heading to a surfing beach, it is important to familiarise yourself with the tide calendar in order to choose the time when surfing conditions are best. You can find a tide calendar for each day and each hour for a particular beach on the internet.
Important! If you are not very confident in your skills, it is advisable to contact professional surf instructors or surf schools who can help you choose the best time and place to surf depending on the tides and ensure safety during your surfing sessions.