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+ Great uncrowded reefbreaks
+ Powerful swells
+ Predominant offshores
+ Cool people
- Rainy climate and cold water
- Windy conditions
- Big tidal ranges
- Fairly pricey
Blue Tomato

Sligo, Ireland, EUROPE

Easkey Left, Jerry Saunders

Surf Spots

Dunmoran Strand
Easkey Right
Easkey Left
Pollacheeny Harbour
Kilcummin Harbour
Lackan Bay
Bunatrahir Bay

The Surf

NW Ireland (Eire) is one of the most consistent surf destinations in Europe. A steady supply of storms forming along the jet-stream provide the region with regular swells, which hit a contorted coastline, offering numerous, quality surf options. However, positioned so close to the most turbulent corner of the North Atlantic, NW Ireland is also prone to some vile weather conditions and short-period windy swells. So travelling surfers won’t sit around waiting for long, but will have to endure a few less-than-perfect days before scoring the epic waves Eire undoubtably receives. The awesome landscape and warm, welcoming inhabitants mean that an Irish surf trip is always something more than just a frenzied hunt for waves.

At the southern extreme of the county lies Donegal Bay, the spiritual home of Irish surfing and an area blessed with several world-class waves. With the prevalent airflow from the SW and a mainly north-facing aspect, open to most Atlantic swells, the low-lying coastline that passes through Counties Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo and Mayo is a true surferÕs paradise. Perfect surf geology shapes triangulated reefs, rivermouth sandbars and assorted beachbreaks, evenly distributed around the bay. Focal points include Rossnowlagh in Co Donegal, home to the biggest surf club in Ireland and the legendary Surfers Bar; a virtual surf museum of Irish surf history. Bundoran is a regular international competition venue where the ongoing fight to save The Peak from destruction keeps it under the media spotlight, along with the recent big-wave, tow-in discoveries. Further west, EaskeyÕs consistent limestone reefbreaks are as popular as ever with travelling surfers. Due N swells will get in, unlike the breaks to the east, and provided the wind isnÕt straight N then somewhere will be sheltered. Donegal Bay is so flexible it can fire at any time of the year, while September to November remain prime time.

When to Go

Most of the lows crossing the North Atlantic will hit the Irish coastline. There are two standard weather scenarios, the most likely being that a low pressure system will travel E-NE across the Atlantic and Ireland, giving anything from 6ft to 20ft W swells. As the system passes over the wind will usually swing around to the NW and N but the first half of the storm will provide clean, offshore winds and sizeable surf on the north facing beaches. The second common scenario is a high pressure system extending over the north Atlantic, Britain and Ireland. In this case there’s little hope of finding surf in most of Europe, but if you’re in NW Ireland you’re in with a better chance than anyone of getting the clean north swells from high latitude storms passing over Iceland towards Norway. Dominant winds are W-SW year-round and are often dead S in the winter while spring and summer see frequently shifting but lighter breezes. Spring is a good time to be in Ireland, despite the cold water. The tidal range can reach 12ft and most spots will be stable for two hours at low tide and high tide. Never understimate the tide factor.

dominant swell W -N W -N W -N W -N W -N W -N
swell size (ft) 6 5-6 3-4 2-3 4-5 5-6
consistency (%) 20 50 50 40 70 30
dominant wind S -W S -W SW -NW SW -NW SW -NW SW -NW
average force F5 F4-F5 F4 F4 F4-F5 F5
consistency (%) 54 44 47 59 51 54
water temp (C) 8 9 12 16 13 10
wetsuit 5/4 5/4 4/3 3/2 4/3 5/4

310km (194mi)


Travel Information


Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle for good reason - the land is very green, thanks to the amount of rain it receives. If the rain begins to get you down, then bear in mind the local saying “It doesn’t rain in the pub”. Despite the British Isles northerly latitude, it is not that cold because of the Gulf Stream’s warming effects. It rarely snows in the winter and freezing temperatures occur only at night. However, winter is a hardcore time to surf in Ireland requiring a thick 5-4 mm wetsuit, along with boots, hat and gloves. Summertime sees warm, sunny periods between showers and long daylight hours. A 3/2 steamer is ideal in summer / early autumn. If you score good waves and weather, then there are few places in the surfing world that you’d rather be.


Western Ireland is a stunning patchwork of lonely valleys, lakes and low mountains, scattered with cottages and old castles. Irish culture centres around the pub, where drinking Guinness and listening to traditional music can be shared by all. Check out the Surfer’s Bar in Rossnowlagh, The Ould Bridge Bar in Bundoran and the Poitin House in Easkey to name just a few.


You won’t be leaving Ireland with a suntan, and if you don’t like wind and rain, don’t go. Many of the reefbreaks are treacherous. No lifeguards at most surf spots. Tidal ranges are large. Ireland is a very welcoming land, & hassles in the water are rare. Travel in small groups, respect the locals by waiting your turn.


There are surf shops in Sligo and Bundoran with decent prices so if you need anything you can pick it up pretty easily.