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17th Oct 2023

Our top spots for surfing breaks out west this autumn

Sarah McKenna Barry

Brought to you by DiscoverIreland

Expect incredible waves and plenty of cosy spots to warm up in afterwards.

With bracing winds, refreshing sea-spray and cool temperatures, autumn is a thrilling time to take to the waves along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Whether you’re a surfing enthusiast or a total beginner, the west coast is home to so many great surfing schools, and the experience of riding the waves is heightened during the autumn. What’s more, sea temperatures are at the warmest in autumn, while top surfers will tell you that the colder months promise the very best waves for surfing. Plus, the bracing winds and cool air makes warming up with a hot drink or hearty meal afterwards all the more satisfying.

To help you make the most of your surfing break to the Wild Atlantic Way this autumn, we’ve pin-pointed some of our favourite spots to embrace the elements this autumn. And, to ensure your aprés-surf is as cosy as possible, we’ve put together some of our favourite spots to warm up in afterwards.

Strandhill, Co. Sligo

The picturesque seaside town of Strandhill is a haven for surfing trips all year round, and autumn is no exception. This year, the town saw the reopening of the National Surf Centre, the country’s first purpose-built surfing facility, transforming Strandhill into a world-class surfing destination. Check in to the impressive net zero centre (and take advantage of its facilities, which include lockers, changing rooms and showers) and then take a lesson with one of the many local surfing schools, such as the Strandhill Surf School, Rebelle Surf School and the Sligo Surf Experience.

After taking in that fresh autumn sea air – and some breathtaking views of the Knocknarea Mountains – warm up with a tea, coffee or hot chocolate courtesy of Shells Café before tucking in to some hearty burgers or fish and chips from Beach Buns. Finish off the day with a night cap at The Strand Bar. As the cool evenings creep in during your autumn break, you can grab a spot in this cosy pub and settle in for the night as you warm up by the fire.

Ballybunnion, Co. Kerry

Expect glorious cliff walks, stunning beaches and plenty of great surf on your autumn break to Ballybunion in North Kerry. Soak in the natural beauty of this region this autumn and awaken your senses during a surf lesson with the Ballybunion Surf School. Feel the cool air on your face while staying cosy in your wetsuit as you get to grips with this thrilling sport on a private or group lesson on the South Beach of Ballybunion.

After your lesson, stroll to Ballybunion’s Main Street and enjoy a hot drink from Coast Café. As well as a wide selection of teas and coffees, there are plenty of tasty bites, including sweet treats, a full Irish breakfast and sausage rolls. So tuck in – after all, you will have built up quite the appetite. Ballybunion is also home to many great Irish pubs, and on your next Kerry getaway, pop in to McMunn’s, The Exchange Inn and Mikey Joes to mingle with the locals and enjoy the cosy atmosphere.

Rossnowlagh, Co. Donegal

With impressive swells, a 4km stretch of golden sands and incredible views of Donegal Bay, it’s no wonder that Rossnowlagh Beach is one of Ireland’s top surfing spots. On your next Donegal trip, take a lesson from the Fin McCool Surf School and embrace the Atlantic Ocean’s powerful autumnal swells. After taking in that fresh sea air, grab a coffee to go from the Bakery Shake, and let it warm you up as you explore this glorious part of the country.

Finish off your day of surfing by calling in to Smuggler’s Creek Inn. Take in the breathtaking views of the Blue Stack Mountains and catch the sunset over this beautiful bay, as you enjoy a drink. Then, head inside and cosy up as you settle in for a night of live music and delicious hearty meals. Offerings here include fish and chips, homemade scampi, bangers and mash – all dishes bound to satisfy your appetite after a day spent on the waves.

Lahinch, Co. Clare

Lahinch in Co. Clare is easily one of Ireland’s most popular surfing spots, and in the colder months, the waves here become even more thrilling. Start your trip to Lahinch off by booking a lesson with John McCarthy’s Lahinch Surf School, and enjoy the adrenaline rush as you surf in this world famous region.

After your session, swing by DODI and treat yourself to some post-surf brunch or grab a coffee to go and warm up during a walk along the Lahinch promenade. Evenings in this surfer’s paradise can be enjoyed in a number of Lahinch’s buzzy pubs and restaurants. Kenny’s Bar, for instance, regularly hosts live music sessions with performers of all genres lighting up the stage. Grab a spot here, enjoy a hearty pub dinner and catch some great live entertainment as you cosy up in your toasty surroundings – the perfect way to recharge after a day spent chasing autumn waves.

Brought to you by DiscoverIreland.

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