The idyllic vision of Ireland is green fields, castles and quaint pubs with friendly locals. It’s true, Ireland is beautiful and green. The Irish, like their Guinness, are warm and welcoming. The waves? Well, they have those too. Hidden among the wonders of Ireland is the fact that its west-facing rugged coastline is a top-notch surf destination filled with coves, points and hard-packed beaches that, when the conditions gel, treat surfers to a variety of conditions. All you need to score waves is patience, time, and a good wetsuit..
Ireland’s 1450 km of coastline grapples with imposing wind, weather and tides. It’s called the Emerald Isle for a reason – annual rainfall in the west can reach 120 inches a year, which makes for startlingly green terrain. Summer and winter temperatures are mild due to the effect of the Atlantic Ocean and the proximity of the Gulf Stream; but once you add in wind, rain, and cold Northern Atlantic water, the story turns chillier. A 4/3 wetsuit with booties, gloves and a hood is recommended for most months, save July and August. Summer ushers in throngs of wave-hungry surfers. The warm weather, mellow waves and occasional sunshine permit novices and experienced surfers to hit the surf with equal gusto. It is also the best time to be dealt a long, flat swell, so flexibility is essential when surfing in the summer.
The best time for quality surf is autumn. This is when low-pressure systems start regularly throwing off quality surf. The arrival of colder water coupled with the end of summer crowds sets the stage for sparse lineups and consistent swells. As good as it can get, ever-changing tide swings, wind and weather create a challenge in finding the right spot – at the right time. Nonetheless, if you dial in (make friends with a local), or get lucky, words like classic, epic and all-time best can get thrown around.
If autumn is the season for consistent surf, then winter is the time for reliably frigid and gnarly conditions. Winter’s raging, wind-blown, victory-at-sea conditions can keep you in the pubs and out of the surf for weeks. Patience and a lot of rubber will help you score good surf during winter months. Spring, as always, is a refreshing change from winter, but is still unpredictable.
Regardless of when you go, the people, landscape and green barrels are well worth the trip.
Ireland Surf Breaks