Surfing In Ireland: 13 Towns That Are Perfect For A Weekend Of Waves And Pints

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surfing in Ireland
Photo left: @honzamikulka. Right: shawnwil23

There’s nothing quite like a weekend of surfing in Ireland. 

With 3,172 kilometres of coastline and some fierce waves coming off the North Atlantic, there’s plenty of seaside towns where you can spend your days in the water and your evenings in a cosy pub.

Regardless of your level of surfing experience, there are places to go surfing in Ireland that cater to everyone from complete novices to seasoned pros.

The best places to go surfing in Ireland

Now, hopefully, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t ever take to the water with alcohol in your system.

The pints mentioned in the title of this article refer to post-adventure pints ONLY. Water safety should be taken seriously and you should never enter the sea if in doubt.

OK – time to dive in: if you’re looking for the perfect weekend of waves and pints (or cups of tea!), here are 13 of the finest surfing spots in Ireland with nearby coastal towns.

1. Rossnowlagh, County Donegal 

Smugglers Innn
Photo by @Taratuite

Rossnowlagh is known as one of the best surf beaches in the Northwest. The long stretch of golden Blue Flag sand is located just 8 kilometres from Donegal town.

It’s a long-established surfing destination popular with both novice and experienced surfers. Its exposure to the intense Atlantic Ocean brings clean waves that have been known to reach up to 7 metres.

Where to eat, sleep and drink nearby

The small settlement of Rossnowlagh that surrounds the beach has plenty of good food and sleeping options.

A popular choice just up from the beach is Smugglers Creek Inn. This cosy pub is perfect for soaking up the bay views with a pint and their private rooms mean you can rise for an early morning surf.

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2. Ballybunion, County Kerry 

ballybunion cliffs
Photo by gabriel12/shutterstock.com

The little town of Ballybunion on the beautiful coast of north County Kerry is a popular holiday destination for tourists and locals alike.

It’s a must-visit town on the Wild Atlantic Way with world-class breaks that attract surfers from all around Europe.

The blue flagged beaches can cater to various skill levels with both beach and reef breaks and decent conditions year-round.

Where to eat, sleep and drink nearby

On Ballybunion’s main street, you can find McMunn’s, a traditional gastro pub. Whether you’re after a meal and a drink or a place to sleep for the night, you’ll be impressed by their ocean views.

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3. Easkey, County Sligo 

easkey cliffs
Photo by Gareth McCormack (via Ireland’s Content Pool)

Easkey is internationally recognised as one of the best places to go surfing in Ireland. The rocky coastline is heavily exposed to the force of the North Atlantic, bringing consistent surfing conditions all year round.

Its reef breaks are best tackled by experienced surfers, many of which come from all around the world for the big waves here.

Where to eat, sleep and drink nearby

The little village of Easkey just back from the coastline prides itself on being a traditional stop on the Wild Atlantic Way.

There are a number of small B&B’s and restaurants for a short stay. If you’re after a pint after your surf, try McGowan’s for its traditional pub atmosphere.

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4. Inchydoney, County Cork 

Inchydoney beach cork weather
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

The island of Inchydoney is a popular seaside destination. It’s home to a Blue Flag beach of the same name that’s perfect for beginners looking for places to go surfing in Ireland.

The clean stretch of beach on the southern side of the island has a variety of waves depending on where you decide to paddle out.

It’s one of the most popular holiday spots for families with plenty of people coming here for their first surfing experience (or to kick-back in the nearby Inchydoney Hotel).

Where to eat, sleep and drink nearby

There’s an upscale hotel and spa not far from the beach, but most people head to the nearest town of Clonakilty to eat and sleep.

There you’ll find Scannells Bar, a great gastropub with a beer garden for a relaxing pint. You’ll also find popular hotels like The Clonakilty and O’Donovan’s on the main street.

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5. Inch, County Kerry 

inch beach county kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Inch Beach is a beautiful 3km stretch of sand and surf on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. It’s a popular spot for surfing with good sized waves and a variety of breaks across the coastline.

It’s especially busy in summer when you’ll find a local surf school and lifeguards on duty. Otherwise, winter brings the experienced surfers who try for the reef break further out to sea, which is known as one of the longest waves in Europe.

Where to eat, sleep and drink nearby

Inch town is a small cluster of inns and restaurants along the main road near the beach. If you’ve just emerged from the surf, then you should stop in at Sammys Restaurant, which sits right on the edge of the sand.

The burgers here (and, randomly enough, the carrot cake!) are both insanely tasty. You can also warm your bones with a coffee while watching others tame the waves.

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6. Strandhill, County Sligo 

Strandhill Beach
Photo by Christian Antoine (Shutterstock)

Strandhill is a beautiful coastal town and beach not far from Sligo Town in Ireland’s northwest.

Surfers love to come to this beach break which delivers clean waves throughout most of the year. Summer is when the conditions are at their peak with waves suitable for everyone.

Where to eat, sleep and drink nearby

Strandhill town has an infectious friendly vibe and you’ll want to stay longer than planned. The Surf N Stay Lodge in town is perfect for those who plan on grabbing some surf lessons during their visit.

The Strand Bar on Shore Road is where you should head for the perfect coastal pub experience (the Guinness here is the business!).

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7. Louisburgh, County Mayo 

Carrowniskey beach
Photo by Artur Ilkow (via Ireland’s Content Pool)

Louisburgh is a small town in County Mayo within close proximity to some of the best surf spots in the country.

The popular Carrowniskey Beach is recognised as having one of the most consistent surf breaks all year round.

It’s also the original home of one of the first surf schools to open in the country, Surf Mayo, making Louisburgh one of the best places to go surfing in Ireland for novice surfers.

Where to eat, sleep and drink nearby

Louisburgh is the main town in the coastal area and the main base for people exploring the nearby beaches.

If you’re in town and looking for a drink and bite to eat, head for The Derrylahan Bar and Restaurant, a great local pub with superb seafood. 

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8. Lahinch, County Clare 

surfing on lahinch
Photo by Brian Morrison via Tourism Ireland

Lahinch is a coastal town and beach that stretches around Liscannor Bay in County Clare. It has a variety of different breaks, making it one of the top surfing destinations in the country.

There are a number of different surf schools in Lahinch, with lessons designed to appeal to both experienced surfers and those new to the board.

Where to eat, sleep and drink nearby

The town of Lahinch sits right near the beach and is a lively place to base yourself for a weekend.

For a meal and a pint head for The Corner Stone Bar and Restaurant and for a room, you can try one of the cosy B&B’s such as Station House or Ocean View.

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9. Bundoran, County Donegal 

bundoran donegal
Photo by MNStudio/shutterstock.com

Many people know Bundoran as the surf capital of Ireland so it’s no surprise that the surfing is good here.

There is a huge variety of waves, breaks and beaches in Donegal’s most southerly town, making it one of the best places to go surfing in Ireland for all levels of ability.

It’s even hosted the European Surfing Championship, so you know that you’re in good company take to the waves here.

Where to eat, sleep and drink nearby

Bundoran has plenty of restaurants and accommodation options stretched along the main road by the coast.

For a traditional pub and restaurant with sea views, you can’t go wrong with Maddens Bridge Bar and Restaurant. They also have comfortable rooms for a perfect weekend away.

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10. Mullaghmore, County Sligo 

Mullaghmore surfing
Photo by ianmitchinson (Shutterstock)

For experienced surfers, Mullaghmore in County Sligo is where you’ll find Ireland’s best (and scariest) reef break. This is a pro-only surfing spot and for good reason.

It’s here that you’ll find some of the most dramatic waves in the country. The waves here have earned Mullaghmore a place amongst some of the best big wave destinations in the world. 

Where to eat, sleep and drink nearby

The little village of Mullaghmore has limited options for eating and sleeping. However, the Pier Head Hotel and Spa will have you covered with incredible sea views.

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11. Tramore, County Waterford 

surfing on Tramore
Photo by Donal Mullins (Shutterstock)

Tramore is the home of surfing on the east coast of Ireland. It’s a popular family vacation destination with plenty of surf schools for beginners and intermediate surfers to get acquainted with the waves.

It doesn’t quite see as consistent surfing conditions as the west coast, but it’s still one of the best places to go surfing in the area.

Where to eat, sleep and drink nearby

Tramore is a large seaside resort town with options for everyone. If you’re looking for a bite to eat straight from the beach, try Brooklyn Restaurant on the Promenade.

For accommodation, just a stone’s throw from the beach, O’Shea’s Hotel is a popular choice.

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12. Portrush, County Antrim 

portrush village
Photo by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

Portrush is a popular surfing and resort town on the northern coast of County Antrim. It’s considered the surf capital of Northern Ireland with various breaks for all abilities.

There are a number of great surf schools on the main beach for those looking to learn some new skills (there’s also loads more things to do in Portrush while you’re there).

Where to eat, sleep and drink nearby

The small town of Portrush has plenty of options for your weekend away. For a no-fuss restaurant and hotel, Portrush Atlantic Hotel is right in the middle of town and a good affordable option.

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13. Elly Bay, County Mayo

elly beach surfing in Mayo
Photo by Christian McLeod Photography (via Ireland’s Content Pool)

Elly Bay is a gorgeous beach on the Mullet Peninsula in County Mayo. This peninsula is one of the most frequently missed by those looking for places to go surfing in Ireland. 

The west-facing beach attracts surfers from all around the country with pounding waves that can reach up to 3 metres.

Where to eat, sleep and drink nearby

Just 9km north of Ella Bay is Belmullet town. This is where you’ll find the best accommodation and restaurant options in the area. For a traditional pub and hotel, try The Western Strands Hotel on the main street.

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What places to go surfing in Ireland have we missed?

There’s plenty of other surfing spots in Ireland that we’ve unintentionally left out of the guide above.

If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, pop a comment into the comments section below.

Elisha is an Australian freelance writer, content creator and blogger, having written for Lonely Planet, Remote Lands and Matador Network. You’ll usually find her travelling in offbeat places or hiking wherever there are mountains; always with a camera in hand.

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