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Ireland is an island west of England and Wales. It is divided into two, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK. Though, as surfing is boundless and free, we speak of Ireland in its entirety, as one unified land of prime surfing in cold water. The population is less than 15% of England’s, and yet the coastline measures only about 200 miles less, so the opportunity for emptier waves is significant. The warmth of the water is raised slightly by the Gulf Stream, though you’ll still want full winter gear in midwinter. Other seasons you can get away with a lot less and in the summer a 3/2 is fine and some may want to bust out a Shorty.


The north, south and west coasts pick up generous helpings of Atlantic swell, adding to the relatively high consistency of surf here. Winds and swells can be heavy and variable. Thankfully, the coastline is also varied, meaning there are always spots to find that favour whatever conditions the ocean gods have to throw at this incredible surf destination. The east coast is sheltered from the Atlantic swells, but remnants of groundswells and Irish Sea wind swells are still surfed when possible.


Ireland’s surfing profile has increased massively in past decades, with epic spots being illuminated as some of the best in the world. From hardcore big wave giant Aileens to the incredibly long rides when Inch Reef fires, to the various beach breaks scattered along the vast coastline, Ireland has plenty to offer.
The south coast can be quite fickle, but it can also produce some real gems. It offers a range of bays, reefs and other wave types. The prevailing wind direction is cross to onshore, and it’s generally the south to southwest swells that hit the spot. Larger, more westerly swells can also wrap into spots with wind shelter and this can open up more opportunities. Offshore winds don’t come as often as would be ideal, though when they do grace the Irish south coast, some incredible waves start cranking.


The west coast receives a wealth of swell and it is home to world renowned big wave surfing at Aileens, Prowlers and others. With waves that can get to 30ft+ this gives you an idea of the power of swell reaching the west facing coastline of Ireland. It’s not all for the death defying and fearless though, there are plenty of spots for everyone and with almost any kind of setup you can think of, Ireland’s west coast is a haven for exploration, adventure and search for the perfect wave.


The north coast also picks up relatively consistent amounts of Atlantic swell. Northwest to north swell directions are often favourable, but some of the westerly giants also wrap into certain spots. Beach breaks catering for all levels of surfer are in abundance here, and there are also some reefs and other break types for more experienced surfers. Portrush is often referred to as north Ireland’s surf capital.
So there you have it. Ireland’s vast coastline offers countless opportunities for world class cold water surf, and conditions that are suitable for everyone from beginners to the most experienced the world has to offer. The swell it receives is relatively consistent, but this is often tethered with heavy winds. There is plenty of scope for surfing solo, though exploration and research will be key. The Irish are rightfully protective over their hidden gems, so don’t expect to go there and hear freely where these beauties lie.

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