Drive down a country road in County Donegal toward the sea, and you’re likely to find miles of unspoiled golden beach – and if there are waves, the water might be filled with surfers. Pounded by the big swells of the Atlantic Ocean, the northwest of Ireland is one of the best surfing spots in Europe and surfers take to the waves year round, with the biggest swells during winter.
The unofficial surf capital is Bundoran in south Donegal. Tullan Strand is a popular beginner spot – you can rent boards or take lessons from one of the town’s four surf schools – while the reef break at The Peak is for more advanced waveriders. The 3km beach at Rossnowlagh, 20km up the coast, is reliable for regular waves and home to one of the country’s first surf clubs. Further north in the county, there are more challenging surf spots at Dungloe, Dunfanaghy, Inishowen and Fanad Head.
The Bridge Bar in Bundoran town is the ideal post-surfing recovery spot for bowls of creamy seafood chowder, pints of Guinness and a surf cam so you don’t miss any of the action on The Peak, or walk up the cliff road from Rossnowlagh beach to the Smuggler’s Inn for reviving post-surf refreshments.