“Do they really surf in Ireland??”
That is the question we get asked most often here at Dingle SurfConsidering Ireland has some of the most exposed coastline in Europe, a massive fetch that stretches uninterrupted all the way across to America and a craggy seaboard littered with reef and beach breaks we always find it such a bizarre question. OF COURSE they surf in Ireland! In fact its often about finding somewhere small enough to surf as we are bombarded by one huge swell after another.
The Dingle Peninsula in West Kerry is a surfer’s paradise and the perfect spot for a surf holiday. With three different coastlines all within half an hour of each other, the Dingle Peninsula has surf in almost all weather conditions.
The peninsula has breaks to suit every standard of surfer, from the world class reef at Inch to the modest but plentiful beach breaks on Brandon Bay where we hold our Surf School – you’ll find a wave to suit your style. Over the next few pages we’ll talk you through some of the more popular and easily accessed spots on the peninsula, but there are also many more hidden gems to be found out there for the more adventurous of you. Enjoy the search…
The autumn is your best bet for consistent waves. The major swells start to push in from mid-September onwards. In the winter months the water temperature can take a dive, but the north swells start firing. In spring the swells are more spread apart but we usually still have decent waves up to around Easter and beyond. In the summer the swells are at their lightest and the prevailing southwesterly winds often make for messy conditions that are perfect for beginners.
The majority of waves come from lows tracking from the US to Iceland, deepening as they go. Surf comes from the south-west to north, as the lows approach, with winds from the lows generally blowing south-west to west. The winds in winter can be very strong but if you are used to wearing a wetsuit you’ll find the water temperatures totally acceptable up to late November. The payoff for all the cold weather though however is you’ll often find yourself out alone with pumping 6ft sets all to yourself.
In the winter months you will need your full winter gear. A 5mm (at least) wetsuit is a must with booties, gloves and hood. From late March you can ditch the hood but the booties are still worn up to about June. In high summer you will get the odd hot spell were a shorti will do – but these are few and far between. As the nights draw in and summer turns to autumn it back on with the boots, until mid-novemer and its back to full gear.
The breaks here can take all sorts of boards, it totally depends on your style. In the summer months we do recommend you bring a larger board with you just in case you hit a flat spell. Check with your airline well in advance of travelling to check if they take surfboards and to see what they will charge you. We also have a range of equipment to hire from here at the shop.
We are proud to say that Ireland is blessed with some of the cleanest water in Europe. The Atlantic’s biodiversity remain pristine around the Dingle Peninsula so don’t be surprised if you are joined on your surf by a pod of dolphins or the odd friendly seal. We have three Blue Flag beaches on the peninsula and as long as you keep away from areas where rivers and streams meet the sea (bringing chemicals from the farm lands) the water is almost good enough to drink.
To us the ‘locals only’ attitude stinks. It totally goes against the whole ethos of surfing. On the whole the surf culture here in Kerry is a friendly one. As long as you respect the lineup, introduce yourself when you get outback and don’t “act the maggot” you’ll get on fine. Of course there are always one or two ****heads, but just ignore the needlessly aggressive ones – we don’t think their mothers cuddled them enough when they were babies. Try not to arrive in big groups either as that will always get tensions up, especially on the reefs. Like everything in life, you get back what you put out.
If you want the real surf experience on the peninsula you are going to need a car. Most breaks are easily accessible by road but they are often out in the sticks. Dingle Town is a great place to set up a base and then head out on the search from there depending on what the weather is doing that day. You can always drop into Dingle Surf Shop to get the latest reports if you are unsure. If you can’t drive you can avail of our Surf & Ride package by hitching a lift with one of our lessons going out that day.
Most of all just enjoy it, there is nothing better than sitting outback, looking at the stunning mountainous vistas that surround you as another unspoiled set rolls in. They call Kerry ‘The Kingdom’ and you feel like its King.
The Dingle Surf Team