Here’s a rough look at the main surf spots in Donegal Bay. These breaks are well known and do not represent the whole deal, no one knows all the breaks in this area…
A popular spot for family seaside holidays. In mid-summer it is full of tourists from both the Republic and the North, mostly looking for fun on the beach.
Wintertimes are very quiet, except for the booming waves out in the bay.
Many of the reefs here are extremely heavy and should only be attempted by surfers who are used with this kind of stuff.
Directly in front of the town, it breaks on mid and low tides onto a reef which extends perfectly triangular into the bay. Lefts are long with barrel sections, fast sections, open faced sections, whackable lips – everything you dream of in a wave. Rights are the same, only a little shorter. Offshore is S or SE and it handles up to about ten foot. Gets crowded with locals, so if you’re visiting, don’t go charging through the pack and start hustling for waves. You’ll get dropped in every time, or run over, or laughed out of the water.
“Joel Fitzgerald had been in Tahiti and Hawaii, charging some of the heaviest waves in the world”, spewed the dead-keen local, “then he came here, and 3Ds ripped the seat of wetsuit out and smashed his face up good and proper!” It’s not the heaviest wave in the world but it is a nice little peak smack in the middle of the bay, where lumps of swollen ocean break onto slabs of rock covered with only a thin film of water, before barrelling off and finally crunching onto an ugly lump of definitely dry rock. Get the idea?
Main Beach: Can provide a lot of shorebreak beachy fun and some hell closeout action on a medium sized day. On smaller days it is good for intermediate surfers who don’t want the shallow reef factor.
Long beach with numerous peaks. The main attraction is next to the ‘Fairy Bridges’ – a radical rock formation – where there’s a wedge wave, bouncing off the protective cliff and doubling in height as it hits the shallow sandbanks. Fun wave that anyone can enjoy. Problem is, it picks up more than anywhere else in Donegal Bay, and has a tiny take of are, so crowds are a real problem. Doesn’t hold much after 6 foot.
Long wide beach, about 20 minutes out of Bundoran, north along the N15 through Ballyshannon, then off the R231. This is where some of first surfing in Ireland took place.
I’ve so many good memories of Ireland and the Irish that I could rant all day about the good times. Ireland is special, the air is sweet. If you haven’t been I hope you get a chance to appreciate the poetry of the place and people. Maybe the waves aren’t consistently reliable but the warmth of the people should be enough. If you make the effort the least reward you will get is a 10 gallon cask full of laughs. This place wants to go its own way avoiding the clichés.
Did I forget to mention that the green field we had to walk across looked great in the sunlight after the rain passed? Oh… and the Irish are warm, hospitable and generous.