Bundoran is the epicentre of Irish surfing, and probably the most well-known surfing location in the country. It is a beautiful town, with some hard-core surfers and some great little secrets. The people who live there are friendly and accommodating, and the area has so much going for it.
The gets quite rough and wild in the area, especially during the winter, but the water doesn’t get as cold as might think. It never really gets warm, but there are days when the water temperature is fine when you can stay out for hours and not get the coldness through to your bones.
There is plenty of excellent accommodation in Bundoran, and the pubs are lovely and a slice of your typical Irish lifestyle, with good times, and when it’s at all possible life, it is a celebration. Once you’ve been to Bundoran, and seen the beaches and the waves, and met the people, you’ll want to return.
The main drawing card for Bundoran if you’re a surfer is the wave called “The Peak” that breaks in the central bay. It is world-famous as the best spot in the area, and surfers from the world over, come and visit it, and ride a few of the waves. It has a long and perfect left, that reels down the reef, while off the take-off peak there is a right-hander that barrels over the first section of reef, before tapering off into deep water.
The waves are relatively consistent in the area, with the autumn and spring months the best time to visit. It does get a bit too cold in the heart of the winter, and during the summer months, it gets quite busy along the coast, and there is hardly ever any swell in the bay. Red Bull featured it as one of the best surf beaches for beginners in Ireland.
There are a few other surf spots that are great fun to surf if you can get them on a good day. Tullen Strand has an excellent left wedge breaking off the rocks in the Bundoran corner of this massive breach. The wave called Pmpa is also a famous surf spot, discovered many years ago and featured in the surf movie Litmus. It is a powerful wave and attracts good barrel riders to the area.
It features a tricky paddle out and an even more challenging paddling in on big days, with sharp rocks and waves smashing into cliffs. It is an exhilarating wave, though, and a good set wave here will stick in your memory bank forever.
A little bit further from Bundoran lies Mullaghmore and the famous Classiebawn Castle. It was where Lord Mountbatten used to live, and where he was killed in 1979 by the IRA when they blew up his boat. Nowadays, the castle overlooks one of the wonders of the surfing world. Mullaghmore is one of the most exceptional big wave locations in the world, and when it gets big, surfers from all over, jet in to have a go.
It is a crazy bunch that ventures out there as the wave is massive and scary, and the only way to get a wave on the big days is by being towed in by jetski. Still, the wave features in big wave awards most years and is much-loved by the chargers who give it a go whenever it gets serious.
In between Mullaghmore and Bundoran is a wave-rich coastline with all sorts of little spots and reefs turning on in various conditions. Some of them are easily accessible from the coastal roads, while others require a hike and a climb to get to, negotiating at times local cows and local farmers. It usually’s cool though, surfers are well known and recognized in the area, and the Irish surfers are known to respect the land and respect the communities.
They’re also known for enjoying a few pints of stout, or maybe a few drams of whiskey or two. Actually, they like a lot more than a few drams. Irish whiskey is known as the “Water of Life” which is the actual Gaelic meaning of the word whiskey.