25 reasons and more I love (surfing in) Ireland
In spite of the fact this summer didn’t welcome me with the warmest arms and the waves were quite bad actually too, there are loads of reasons I love (surfing in) Ireland.
It is a tough country from the weather point of view, especially the west coast, but it is definitely worth visiting and surfing.
I listed 25 reasons why I love it. I didnt`t remember all of them for sure, so feel free to write any to the comments below and I will happily add them (if I agree ;) ).
1) EVERY DAY IS A LOVELY DAY
I came back to Ireland at the beginning of June. I left home in beautiful summer days with temperature above 25°C and jumped straight into Irish “reality”. Was sitting in the morning on the beach, watching the flat ocean. I was wrapped in 4 layers, as 13°C combined with the wind, black sky and humidity made me feel pretty cold. I was all shivering and was watching a man walking his dog. When he was passing me, he said, smiling, “What a lovely day”. I couldn’t believe my ears. I definitely couldn’t agree with that.
Next morning the situation repeated. This time I nodded to the man with a tiny smile too.
The day after the real Irish storm came. Accompanied with the horizontal rain, thanks to onshore wind exceeding 70 km/h.
The day after the weather came back to “normal”. Just like the two days before the storm. I was sitting on the beach again, hoping for some surf, when the man with his dog went around again. This time it was me, who said smiling “what a lovely day”.
2) 5 SEASONS IN 10 MINUTES
The weather is really unpredictable. It doesn’t make a sense to watch weather forecasts at all. The only forecast which is right is when you have a look from the window. And even then you can never be sure what is gonna happen, as you can simply get 5 seasons in 10 minutes here.
3) RAINBOWS ON A DAILY BASIS
Thanks to constant weather changes rainbows are not rare at all. And they are really beautiful.
4) HOME OF CHANGING TOWELS
Ireland is the first place where I have seen changing towelsor changing robesor whatever you want to call it. It is a genious thing. One of the best gifts for your surfing partner by the way ;) They are available even in a water proof versionwith a fleece inside, which will make your changing much more comfortable, especially in winter.
I have no idea where they were invented, but it would make a big sense if it was here, in Ireland.
a) They keep you warm when changing in front of the car or on the beach
b) They keep your ass covered while changing. And believe me, no matter how sexy your ass is, better keep it hidden.
The catholic influence is still pretty significant here ….. Girls even never take their bikini off when changing in front of each other. When I had been for the first time in local surf club and wanted to take a shower at a womens changing room, I got completely naked of course. I noticed the girls around giggeling but I didn’t pay attention to it, as I didn’t realize it had anything to do with me. When it lasted about 1 minute, I got, that they are giggeling at me. But had no idea why. Only later I noticed, that they all took shower in bikini and few days later I learned from a friend that "public" “nudity” is not very popular here. Unfortunately I learned all that only after me and few Czech friends got a bit drunk and went swimming with sunset ….. nude…. Fortunately we managed to disappear before the police came :D
5) BIG CROWD ON A SURF SPOT MEANS 10 PEOPLE
I had great surf in perfect conditions with just a few guys in the water. May be 8-10 of us, far away enough from each other. Impossible to compare with certain spots in Indonesia for instance, where 30 people within few meters are considered as not too bad. I got out of the water, pretty happy with the session. Met one of the surf mates. Couldn’t believe my ears when listening to him saying “pretty crowded today” ….. ;)
6) SURFING WITH SHARKS
Shark is usually the biggest surfers` thread, especially at specific surf spots around the world. Ireland, of course, has to be different again. You can see a couple of sharks of the length of 3 cars, swimming peacefully 10 meteres from a gang of surfers. Nobody gives a shit. Except me of course, Ms. Panic, trying to shout, scared to death. But my pent throat didn’t let out even a little bit of sound. I looked at my surfmates who were crying of laughter. Thinking they hadn`t noticed anything, started pointing at the huge creatures. They continued laughing and then tried to calm me down saying “it is basking shark only”. It didn’t help of course, as I had no idea what it means. The word “shark” and its fin size comparable to size of half of my surf board were enough ….. Then they added, that they eat plankton only. They sounded quite confident and as the rest of the crowd didn’t show any signs of panic either, I calmed myself down step by step. It took me about 20 minutes and I started paddeling even closer to the monsters. There are amazing animals and it is such a powerful feeling to see something so huge so near to you.
It is not uncommon to surf with other fascinating animals, like dolphins, seals, even whales. Something you will never forget.
7) STUNNING SCENERY
The scenery around you when surfing is incredible. Most of the beaches and reefs are set among hills, cliffs, ruins …. which can change colours as often as the weather. They can get from all shades of green over blue, purple, orange ….. especially in the winter, when sun is really low.
8) INCREDIBLE SUNSETS
Yes, the sun doesn’t show up as often as most of us would wish. Still usually if it is hidden for most of the day, it shows up finally to say good night. The sunsets are really special.
9) MYSTIC WINTER SURF
Water and air temperature are pretty stable here. It is cold or colder ;) The water gets usually up to 15°C in the summer and down to may be 7°C in the winter. And it is similar with the air temperature. Just few days a year the air temperature drops below zero and then you experience something pretty unique. The ocean is literally steaming. Layer of fog is floating above the ocean and it is hard to describe how mystic it is, you have to see it, you have to surf it.
10) BEACH BARS UNLIKE ANY OTHER
When one says “beach bar”, you usually imagine the one made of bamboo, covered with grass roof. You lie in front of it on a sunbed in bikini or boardshorts. Coctail in one hand, sunscreen in the other one ….. Irish beach bar is different again. It is a house made of stones or bricks, with a heavy roof made of thatch. You get in completely frozen after surfing, wrapped in 4 layers, standing in front of a fireplace, holding a pot of tea or a pint of Guinness if you belong to the less frozen guys. Unique experience again.
11) LOCALS ARE VERY FRIENDLY
Are you traveling on your own? No worries, just get to the pub and you will find a company very easily, as locals are super friendly.
12) LOCALS ARE PRETTY CHILLED WHEN COMING TO ACCIDENTS
I rented a car in the Republic of Ireland. It was the first time I was driving car on the left side of the road. By the time I got from Sligo to Belfast, I got pretty confident. Still not enough to magage the traffic while looking around searching for a hostel, so I hit mirror of a car parking on the side of the road. I stopped few meters later at the closest petrol station, quite stressed I have to say. The car stopped beside me. I was all shaking, as I had no idea what to do. The car was rented, I rented it in a foreign country, traveled with it to another country, I had no idea who to call first …. Police? Insurance company? Rental company? I expected the worst when the driver was coming towards me. He probably could see the panic in my eyes. He was smiling and said “it is just an accident, calm down”. I had a look into his car. Whole family was sitting there, all calm and smiling. I couldn’t believe it. Back home I would hear at least 1000 of really bad words already. Here? No problem. I gave him 50 Eur, my telephone number in case and that was it.
13) QUALITY MEAT AND MILK PRODUCTS
One of the reasons I came back to Ireland was the quality of local food. I needed to gain some weight and muscles I lost previously. (The reasons for that you can find in the story “10 tips how to loose weight ……” ). When you eat local meat, milk, cheese ….. they taste so real. Of course they do. Most of the animals here are running free outside and are eating the freshest and greenest grass in the world.
14) PINK SHEEP? WHY NOT?
How to differentiate your sheep from your neighbouring farmers` ones? Easily, use sheep marking spray. Blue? Red? Purple? So cute!
15) THE HIGHEST CLIFFS IN EUROPE
Big part of the west coastline is fringed by various amazing cliffs. They are beautiful, green, with monster waves under them, like you can see in a famous Irish surf movie, Waveriders. By the way there are the highest cliffs in Europe in Ireland too. They are called Sleave League and they are stunning.
16) THE GRASS IS REALLY GREENER
It is a wellknown saying, that grass is greener in Ireland. And there is more than something about that. The green is not just green. It is super fresh green. No wonder thanks to all the rain. And with a bit of sunny spells, the green gets such amazing shades.……..
From all the green hills and mountains the views are stunning. With all the hidden caves, waterfalls and lakes …… it is a really beautiful country. If you want to see it from a different perspective (and you do not want to fly or get it filmed by a drone), go for rockclimbing. If you do not have your own gearor you don`t know where to find the routes, contact Carraig climbing, company in Sligo, which will show you the magic, guide you and keep you safe.
17) SEAWEED BATH FOR FREE
Seaweed spas are very popular in Ireland. Seaweedis wellknown for its health beneficial effects. If you surf, you get it for free actually, as the seabed is very often covered with all kinds of seaweed you can imagine.
18) SNORKELING / DIVING IN IRELAND WILL MAKE YOU SPEACHLESS
Forget colorful corrals. Forget colorful fish. Ireland has not only the greenest grass, but the same it is under the water. Green, dark, sometimes even super scary. Especially with all the kinds of long seaweed moving in the rhytm of coming waves and changing tides. It is such a powerful experience, that will not leave you neutral. That is something you will not see anywhere else.….. I filmed it on a waterproof camera. I will share it on the blog soon. Just make sure you have not only warm enough wetsuit, springor winterone (a hoodieis a must too, to prevent icecream headache), depending on the season and your low temperature sensitivity. Do not forget to bring finswhen snorkeling, the longer the better. The currents can appear all of a sudden and without fins you will be hardly able to be faster than them.
19) CYCLING TO AN ISLAND? NO PROBLEM.
There is an island in Sligo, called Coney island, where you can drive, cycle or walk with low tide. There is a cool pub on the island too, with very friendly locals and a bath at the toilette :) Always check the tides before going there to know when to go there and how many pints you can get to be back in time too ;)
20) SUNGLASSES CHEAPER THAN IN INDONESIA
When I travel, I do not go to fashion stores much. As my backpack is heavy enough. But Ireland is an exception, as there is a store with very cheap and quite often pretty cool stuff, Pennies. Everything there is so cheap, so as a low cost traveller I simply can`t resist. This summer I bought even 3 sunglasses, probably wanted to bring more sun by them ;) Guess the price of them. 1,50 Eur each! Cheaper than in Indo.
21) LOOKING FOR A GREAT QUALITY WATER AND WIND PROOF CLOTHES? IT IS THE BEST COUNTRY TO BUY IT.
If you are looking for a quality water and wind proof clothes, it would make a sense to buy it here, in Ireland, where they have to cope with these elements on a daily basis. Wide offer of jackets and Wellingtonsare probably nothing surprising, but Irish want to be elegant in the rain as well, so you will easily get a waterproof jacket with a floral designor with other cool printing here too.
22) WHERE ELSE CAN YOU CROSS THE AIRPORT FREELY?
… just beware of low flying aircrafts ;)
23) MAGIC CEMETERIES
If you are from any reasons attracted to cemeteries, you will love the Irish ones with unchangable celtic age atmosphere.
24) NOWHERE ELSE YOU WILL BE ASKED SO OFTEN FOR DRUGS
Nearly every conversation here starts by “Any crack?” ….. As I heard it for the first time in a local club, from a few strangers, I got a feeling, I got a "drug dealer sign" on my innocent face. Then I found out, that it is “any craic” actually and “craic” is an Irish word for “fun” ;)
25) SURFING, KITING, SAILING and WINDSURFING PARADISE
Yes, Ireland is a surfing, kiting and windsurfing paradise. As I described the weather here few times already, I guess I do not have to add more ;) Just do not forget to bring your own gear. I do not know how about other sports and other regions, but here, in Strandhill, you can`t rent a surfboard or a wetsuit on its own. Always as a part of the lesson. And if you are a "pussy" used to warm waters, like me, better bring a pair of warm gloves, hoodieand a really really warm wetsuiteven for the summer. And in case you didn`t bring anything, there are a few surf shops around. Surf world Bundoran, Bundoran surf co. and Sunset watersports in Sligo. If you are not around yet, my favourite European online shop with everything around board sports is Blue Tomato.
AerLingus and Ryanair transport your surfboard quite cheap. 35 Eur one way within Europe.
You will hardly find better summary of Irish summer than in this video ;)
So these are my reasons why I love Ireland. I bet you have yours too. Feel free to share them in comments bellow, I will happily add them into the blog post if I agree ;) Cheers! And keep warm :)
P.S. Most of the pictures I took on my previous, about 14 months long, trip to Ireland. There were not so many sunny days this summer ;)
About Bo on the road, the author