So Many Places to Surf
With the right weather, the north, south, and west coasts of Ireland can be home to some of the best surfing waves in the world. Gulf Stream storm activity generates large swells all year round, but the best times for surfing are from September through the autumn/winter months, and up to early summer. During the winter there can be almost continuous surf conditions, but winds can be very strong. During the summer months, more high pressures are experienced and this usually manifests in a flat period for up to a few weeks at a time with—if we’re lucky—a few intermittent swells. The water temperature reaches its peak at about 17 degrees Celsius by the end of summer, with lows of below 8 degrees in winter months.
While we can’t recommend exactly where to surf, we know there are lots of good breaks all around Ireland. Click on the map to find yours.
Ireland’s waters bear the brunt of the Atlantic’s most thunderous moods, and it’s in winter, when wind from close-range North Atlantic storms and low water temperature, makes surfing a much tougher proposition. But hey, isn’t that what Winter wetsuits are for? The shoreline along our coasts presents a series of headlands, flat rock reefs and sand bars that face directly into the Atlantic, which means it is uniquely placed to pick up massive swells from huge low pressure systems traveling across the North Atlantic. Add to this a stunningly beautiful, rugged and undulating coastline that offers a fabulous variety of uncrowded beach, reef and point breaks, with predominantly offshore winds. Whether you are an experienced surfer in search of the big one, or a novice looking to get started in more gentle conditions, there are no shortage of options.
A lot of surfing etiquette is common sense and after a while becomes second nature to surfers, but here we’ve explained a few rules that we think are important for everyone’s enjoyment and safety in the water. It is a sport practiced in a medium—the ocean—where a human, if rendered helpless, can be literally out of his or her depth, fast.
Right of Way
The surfer closest to the peak of the wave has the right of way. This means if you’re paddling for a right, and a surfer on your left is also paddling for it, you must yield to him or her. If someone is up riding a wave, don’t attempt a late takeoff between the curl/white water and the surfer. If the surfer who’s riding the wave wants to make a cutback they will run right into you! Just because the white water catches up to a surfer riding a wave doesn’t give you permission to take off down the line. Many talented surfers can outrun the section and get back to the face of the wave.
Don’t Drop In
Never “drop in” on another surfer. “Dropping in” is taking off on a wave in front of another surfer who has right of way.
Learn to respect the ‘line up’ — an informal line of surfers, particular at point and reef breaks where each surfer waits their turn, with the surfer whose turn it is next, sitting deepest. If you are surfing a peak where you have an option to go right or left you must communicate with other surfers in the line up your preferred direction to avoid ‘drop ins’ and also unridden waves.
When paddling out, don’t paddle straight through the heart of the lineup where people are surfing. Paddle out through the channel where the waves aren’t breaking and people aren’t surfing. When paddling back out, do not paddle in front of someone riding a wave. You must paddle behind those who are up and riding and take the whitewater hit or duckdive.
Sometimes you’ll just end up in a bad spot and won’t be able to paddle behind a surfer. It’s your responsibility to speed paddle to get over the wave and out of his or her way.
Etiquette is key in a busy ocean. Learn more about what you should and shouldn’t do, including not snaking someone’s wave.
Respect the beach
Don’t litter. Simple as that. Pick up your trash and take it home or dispose of responsibly.
If you make a mistake
Nobody really mentions this, but if you do make a mistake and accidentally drop in or mess up someone’s wave, a quick apology is appreciated, and goes a long way to reducing tension in crowded lineups.
Let’s Go Over Safety Just One More Time
Surfing is an adventure sport and carries with it inherent dangers and risks. This does not mean we cannot enjoy our chosen adventure. But just to make sure we survive to surf another day, please have a look at these recommended safety guidelines.
Don’t Ditch Your Board. This is important, especially when it gets crowded. Always try to maintain control and contact with your board, If you throw your board away and there is someone paddling out behind you, there is going to be carnage.
Never let your surfboard go. Throwing your board and relying on your leash to get through a closeout or a broken wave’s whitewater is a very poor call in all but the least crowded and most critical of circumstances. At all times be responsible for your equipment and respectful of others.
Always help other Surfers, but don’t put yourself in a situation over your head. Two surfers in need of help are in a much worse a state than one.
The nature of any lineup — always moving — means that other surfers may not see a surfer in trouble right away. As a result, it’s very important to react quickly as soon as you see a fellow surfer is in trouble. Signal to other water users, lifeguards and even people on the beach that help is needed, don’t assume someone has seen you. Never leave your board (unless of course it’s the cause of trouble); a big surfboard is much easier to spot from a distance then a little tiny head bobbing in the water!!
- Learn how to swim.
- Get proper instruction at an WSA Approved Surf School or Club.
- Check local knowledge with lifeguards or experienced surfers.
- Study the waves and only go out if you are capable in the conditions which prevail. Stick to beaches until you are experienced. Do not be over-confident.
- Learn to observe the ocean to identify rips, wind changes and other hazards. If caught in a rip always paddle across current to safety.
- Never go out at night when darkness is approaching.
- When you "wipeout" do not come to the surface too soon, protect your head with your arms as you come to the surface. Wear a safety helmet.
- Check your equipment, especially your leash. Remember it is much easier to spot a brightly coloured board and wetsuit at sea in the event of you requiring rescue.
- Never go out in the surf alone.
- Check the weather and tides before you paddle out. spring high tides can make entering and exiting the water dangerous.
- Advise someone ashore where you are going and when you will be back.
- Have respect for other surfers and don't be afraid to ask for advice.
- Don't be a hazard to swimmers or other water users. Always check behind you for other water users before abandoning your surfboard to dive under a wave.
- If you find yourself in difficulty stay calm, do not discard your board, wave your arms in the air to attract attention and shout for help. Do not panic, help will come.