Bundoran, in Ireland’s County Donegal, has received one of the best surfing accolades around: a listing as one of the top 20 surf destinations in the world by National Geographic.
The world-renowned magazine puts Bundoran as the best place to start any surfing adventure on the Emerald Isle and recommends the rugged northwest corner of Ireland’s long Atlantic coastline for “the salty surf traveller who doesn’t mind surfing in cold water or rain”.
Bundoran was one of two European destinations to make it onto the magazine’s coveted list.
According to National Geographic what makes an awesome surf town is a special combination of factors that make up the ‘perfect wave’.
In the case of Bundoran, the ingredients include welcoming accommodation, friendly locals, lively nightlife, good food and plenty to do when the waves don’t come out to play.
The centuries-old fishing village catches just about any swell that powers across the North Atlantic onto beaches and reefs that suit different levels of surfers.
Ireland’s most famous reef break, The Peak, is also a Bundoran resident.
The town of Bundoran offers a choice of surf shops, surf schools and a wide range of accommodation to stow the board and rest the head, from budget options to luxury hotel rooms with an ocean view.
“Bundoran has always been recognised globally as a surfing town and coming into September and November is when the water is at its warmest, the Atlantic is at full throttle and the crowd is definitely stoked,” says regular visitor Sharon Doherty.
“If you’re new to Bundoran, get down to the Fitzgerald’s or the Bridge Bar to meet surfers, locals and musicians. The craic is second to none.”
Tullan Strand is regarded as the main surfing stretch, but the locals will advise on loads of surrounding reefs and beaches that work on a variety of swells.
Over the last two decades Ireland has become a mecca for surfers. Described by National Geographic as ‘Europe’s cold-water Indonesia’, the craggy coastline with its huge unspoiled beaches and impressive waves is now one of the world’s must-surfs.
Surfers with an appetite for variety can ride the waves at Ireland’s other great surfing towns, including Easkey in Sligo, Lahinch in County Clare and Portrush on County Antrim’s famous Causeway Coast.
In Donegal, a land-based adventure around this region’s breathtaking scenery offers further thrills beyond surfing, including the sea cliffs at Slieve League, among the most spectacular in Ireland.