7 Secret Surf Spots On The Wild Atlantic Way

Did you know Ireland has some of the top surf spots in the world? Over the years this small, but special, country has been given many accolades. Lonely Planet listed Mullaghmore in Sligo as one of the “Best Spots in the World to Catch a Big Wave”, two of the world’s top wave surfers also claimed to have found “the world’s biggest waves” off the coast of Donegal and Antrim and National Geographic named Bundoran, in Co. Donegal as one of the world’s “20 Best Surf Towns.”

Regardless of the weather (rain, hail or shine…there are always waves in Ireland!) below are 7 of the best surf spots along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, which happens to be the longest defined coastal driving route in the world. If you are looking for an adventurous surfing holiday in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, this is the place for you!

7. Streedagh Strand, Co. Sligo

Streedagh strand sligo surfing

Streedagh strand is one of the most beautiful beaches in Sligo…. if you’re brave enough to go into the water, that is! Sitting on a surf board on a beautiful spring afternoon, you can watch the skilled kite surfers zooming up and down the beach, watch couples wandering aimlessly on their Sunday stroll, notice the sun glistening across the foamy white wash waves or simply stare at the stunning Ben Bulben which acts as a spectacular backdrop in the distance.

The beach itself is located about half way between Sligo and the surfing mecca of Bundoran in Co. Donegal. It’s North Westerly facing and picks up plenty of West and North swell. It’s a fantastic spot for beginner surfers and can, on big swells, bring in some big waves for more advanced surfers.

Where to stay: Surf N Stay, Shore Road, Strandhill.

Surf Forecast: Surfspots.ie

6. Rossnowlagh, Co. Donegal

rossnowlagh

This popular blue flag beach near the town of Ballyshannon in Co. Donegal, is a beginners paradise. While there are many excellent surf spots up and down the coast in County Donegal, Rossnowlagh is a safe bet for surfing year round. In fact, coming here in the cold winter months can be an exhilarating experience, and a stark contrast to sunny summer days when the beach is jam packed with cars, bikes, boats, boards and swarms of sun worshippers.

The name itself comes from the Irish name Ros Neamhlach, meaning “heavenly headland” and when you look down on the beach from the Southerly headline, you will see why. It really is a stunning sight to behold. If you are not up for taking on the waves yourself, The Smugglers Creek Inn is an unbelievable spot to watch the surfers in the distance while keeping yourself fed with delicious seafood and a cold pint!

Where to stay: TurfnSurf Surf School and Hostel, Bayview Terrace, Bundoran.

Surf Forecast:  SurfSpots.ie

5. Enniscrone, Co. Sligo

enniscrone

This 5km long, sandy beach is located in west County Sligo, 13km from Ballina, County Mayo and 48km from Sligo town. The beach itself is backed by sand dunes, which are rich in flora and fauna. Surrounding the beach on one side is a lively little seaside town called Enniscrone, and on the other side the beach meets the beautiful Killala Bay.

With over two miles of excellent surfing conditions, Enniscrone beach is perfect for novice and intermediate surfers. Besides the panoramic views, there are loads of other reasons to entice you to Enniscrone and to keep you entertained after a days surfing. The  town is home to a world-renowned golf course, an Aqua Park and a traditional bath house that offers hot seawater and seaweed baths in beautiful freestanding, porcelain bath tubs overlooking the beach!

Where to stay: North West Surf School, Enniscrone 

Surf Forecast: SurfSpots.ie

4. Achill Island, Co, Mayo

achill

Achill island, the largest island in Ireland, holds a special place in many people’s hearts. People have inhabited Achill as far back as 3,000 BC and the population has rarely fluctuated much since then, remaining at the 2-3,000 mark for centuries.

The island has so much untouched beauty and has some of the most spectacular views along the Wild Atlantic Way, such as its many deserted beaches and the dramatic back drop of Slievemore.

Even though it is technically an island off the coast of Mayo, you can actually drive onto it from the main land via the Michael Davitt bridge, making it one of the most accessible islands along the West coast. The best surf spot is the Westernmost point of the island, in beautiful Keem bay, which is a perfect horse shoe bay and a secluded surf spot.

Where to stay: Pure Magic Lodge, Achill. (Ask to be picked up by their ‘local‘ transport!)

Surf Forecast: SurfSpots.ie

3. Dunlaughin, Connemara, Co. Galway

dunlaughlin

Connemara is one of the most beautiful and untouched spots in all of Ireland. There aren’t a lot of tourists, many of the locals still live quite a traditional life of fishing and farming and living off the land and many still speak Irish.

The secluded nature of Dunlaughin beach, close to the town of Ballyconneely, is what makes it so special. The beach itself is quite narrow but the rocks on either side cause nice waves to surf. When there is a easterly wind, the waves tend to be taller, but when there is the usual South Westerly winds, it is a perfect spot for both beginner and intermediate surfers.

The beach has a brilliant atmosphere thanks to the total lack of nearby houses or buildings, which means it’s just you and the waves!

Where to stay: Love Connemara Cottages, Ballyconneely, Connemara (Or you could just go camping!)

Surf Forecast: SurfSpots.ie

2. Doolin Point, Co. Clare

doolin-waves

After Donegal, Co Clare is considered one the top surf spots in Ireland. While Lahinch would be the focal point of surfing in this part of the country, Doolin is a little quieter and offers some of the biggest and most incredible surf breaks in the world. If you are looking to surf along the foot of the world renowned Cliffs of Moher, this is the spot for you! (It should be added that many of the breaks near Doolin are for very experienced or pro surfers only….especially of you plan of surfing near the cliffs!)

Besides surfing, or if you are not feeling brave enough to get into the water here, there are endless things to do in and around Doolin such as kayaking, cliff walks, bird watching, listening to traditional Irish music or paying a visit to The Burren Smokehouse to taste their world-famous smoked salmon!

Where to stay: Doolin Hostel, Doolin, Co. Clare

Surf Forecast: SurfSpots.ie

1. Inch Strand, Co. Kerry

inch strand

(Photo Credit: Valerie O Sullivan)

Last on the list is the beautiful Inch strand in County Kerry, where “an inch is a mile”! Inch strand is in fact almost 2 miles long, a dramatic crop of land jutting out into the Atlantic. Inch village and beach lie on the south side of the Dingle Peninsula, tucked away in a bay between the Slieve Mish Mountains and the MacGillicuddy’s Reeks. It is one of the most popular beaches in Kerry and offers stunning sunsets year round. 

The waves are slow and gentle making this beach an ideal location for beginner surfers or anyone who wishes to learn how to surf. For the more experienced surfers, just head to Inch reef, which offers bigger waves and is only a short drive away form the main beach. If you want to try some other adventurous water sports, Inch is also a great spot to try out both kiteboarding and windsurfing. It really is an adventure lovers heaven!

Where to stay: The Dingle Gate Hostel, Annascaul, Co Kerry

Surf Forecast: SurfSpots.ie

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3 thoughts on “7 Secret Surf Spots On The Wild Atlantic Way

  1. None of these are secret in any way what so ever to any1 that knows anything about surfing the west coast of ireland…cheers

    1. Hi David, I’m sure all the ‘real’ surfers wouldn’t be too impressed if blogs started sharing their real secret spots. This post is aimed at tourists coming to Ireland or people in Ireland who never really knew there were so many great spots to go surfing! Thanks for your comment though. 🙂

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