Standing in the corner of my son’s room is a surfboard. Every time I look at it, it reminds me of an adventure that began a few years ago.
I was born in Poland, in a small town by the sea. Every time a strong wind appeared, my friends and I took our air mattresses outside and pretended that we were surfing. I always wanted to surf, but unfortunately Poland doesn’t have any good surfing conditions because the Baltic Sea doesn’t spoil us with nice curved waves.
Fortunately, we settled in Ireland and here we learned one amazing thing. Ireland is actually one of the greatest places to surf in the world!
Our surfing adventure started when Noel (alias ‘The Designer’) asked me if I wanted to take a surfing lesson with him in Lahinch. I told him that I didn’t know you could surf in Ireland. However, after watching a few you tube videos, I discovered that Ireland is not only a great place to surf, but the west coast is invaded by one of the largest waves in the world.
If you don’t believe me, check out this awesome video.
I was ready and so excited that I almost forgot that winter had just ended meaning we were in an early and cold time of spring.
Our adventure started in Lahinch which is a beautiful town located on the northwest coast of County Clare, situated very near to the most popular attraction in Ireland – The Cliffs of Moher. We decided to buy a training session with an instructor from the local surf school. I believe it cost 30 euro per person for a 2-3 hours session –a great price for value considering that it includes the rental of a surfboard and wet suit (that was a few years ago so it might be a little more expensive now, possibly around 35-40 euro per session).
When we arrived, beautiful weather welcomed us along with a friendly instructor. The instructor drove a tiny Nisan Micra adapted to carry a huge surfing board and he was actually tanned! I think it was the first time that I saw a tanned Irish person. You see them once in a while wandering through the west coast but it is a very rare sight.
We had a great time. The only challenge was the cold water which slipped into our wetsuits while we were getting into the water. If you try this, don’t worry, it warms up very fast and after a few minutes you are ready to go.
It usually takes one training session to learn how to stand on the board and around 10 hours of training to actually ride a broken wave. It took me much longer to ride my first unbroken wave, but it was worth waiting for! The reward is just indescribable.
After a couple of months we decided to continue improving our skills and we signed-up for a 3 days surfing camp in Bundoran. The camp was led by one of the best ‘Big Wave Rider’s’ in Ireland, Ritchie Fitzgerald. For 160 euro per person we received three surf sessions with a team of professional instructors (including surfing guru Richie), a beach run and warm up, 1 yoga and surf fitness class and one surfing techniques class. The price also included two night’s accommodation, two breakfasts and all equipment rentals if you didn’t have your own (the price might be different now but if you are interested go to this page http://www.surfworld.ie/).
We had a really great time and we definitely improved our skills though we still can’t call ourselves ‘Wave Riders.’ Ritchie and his team are really awesome!
So far we have surfed in four places: Lahinch, which is my favourite, The Spanish Point, Bundoran and Tramore (where the oldest Irish Surfing Club is located). The best conditions for beginners are in spring and summer. The largest waves invade Ireland in late autumn, winter and early spring.
Surfing in Ireland is a great activity and an awesome opportunity to spend time with friends and family while admiring an extraordinary Irish Coastline. If you fall in love with surfing, you can actually surf all year round, even during cold winter days. Just don’t forget to wrap yourself up in a warm wetsuit (at least 3/5 mm) before you go.