Surfing at Whiterocks Beach, Portrush
Clean, bracing water. Mile upon mile of unspoilt beaches. The freshest salty air. And if you’re lucky, a world class wave... all to yourself.
Whether you’re a complete beginner or a well-travelled wave-rider, there’s a beach and a surf school that’s just right for you in Northern Ireland. You’ll have to hurry though; the region’s surf spots international renown is gaining traction.
Here’s our pick of some of the best.
If you like inclusive surfing… you’ll love Benone
Benone Strand in County Londonderry is a great location for surf beginners - this stretch of beach is about seven miles long and there are multiple peaks to choose from. It’s also the first fully inclusive beach in Northern Ireland, with provision for the disabled and those with additional needs, including a wheelchair surfboard and beach wheelchairs.
The Long Line Surf School in Benone runs kids’ camps for children aged 6 to 12, along with teenage summer camps and lessons for adults and families.
If you’d like to extend your trip to this stunning location (and we wouldn’t blame you), there are glamping lodges which can accommodate up to six people at the Benone Tourist Complex.
Insider tip: Refuel after a surf with coffee and a pastry from the Sea Shed coffee shop on the beach, or enjoy a hearty meal at the nearby Anglers Rest pub.
If you like a great right hand break… you’ll love Castlerock
Just beyond Benone Strand and Downhill Demesne with its iconic Mussenden Temple is Castlerock, another gorgeous beach.
Castlerock is well-suited to more experienced surfers, who come to enjoy the right-hand wave which breaks off the pier. It’s located near to Portstewart Strand, a vast and very popular beach which is also home to the famed Harry’s Shack, serving up great coffee and fresh local produce.
Insider tip: Surfing is thirsty work. On a fair day, enjoy a well-earned post-surf craft beer on the outside decking at Harry’s Shack, Portstewart.
If you like great surf schools… you’ll love Portrush
West Strand, Portrush
Portrush’s coast is comprised of the West Strand and the smaller, more sheltered East Strand. While the East Strand is less exposed to the bigger swell, it still has powerful waves in winter. The West Strand, meanwhile, is more consistent for waves and you’ll almost always have a wave there, all year round.
The beach attracts both domestic and foreign surfers from as far afield as Hawaii and Canada who come to enjoy the clean, barrelling waves. But compared to the likes of Devon and Cornwall, it’s still relatively uncrowded.
Insider tip: Before you hit the surf, get some tips from Andrew Hill at the award-winning Troggs Surf Shop and School on the East Strand. A six times Irish national surfing champion, he’s been riding waves for 40 years.
If you like surfing with a view… you’ll love Whiterocks
Located just off the Causeway Coastal Route, a couple of miles from Portrush and beside the Royal Portrush Golf Club, is Whiterocks Beach. It’s named after the limestone cliffs of the White Rocks, which span from Curran Strand to Dunluce Castle.
With its dramatic views of the castle and the rocks, it’s one of the most scenic locations to surf at, and on a good day you can also see the Scottish islands.
Surfing is the main pastime on this beach, but you’ll find kayakers, body boarders, horse riders and plenty of families too.
Insider tip: The Portrush Surf School offers a Surf ‘n’ Spa experience in conjunction with local beauty therapist Aura Portrush, so you and your companions can enjoy a relaxing après surf treatment after a day on the waves.
If you like seclusion… you’ll love White Park Bay
White Park Bay
White Park Bay in County Antrim is located about 10 minutes’ drive from the Giant’s Causeway and one hour and a quarter from Belfast. A peaceful and secluded beach with beautiful blue waters, it isn’t manned by lifeguards and is best suited to experienced surfers, as its waves can break quite far from the shore.
White Park Bay has a 10-minute walk from the car park to the beach. It came first in last year’s WalkNI Awards’ Favourite Place to walk on the Causeway Coast category. It’s also rich in wildlife, with birds, butterflies and moths in the sand dunes, and a wide range of colourful wild flowers; keep an eye out for dolphins and porpoises too.
Insider tip: You may be joined on the bay by some friends on four legs, as cows from nearby farmland have been known to walk on the beach.
Let us know your favourite at #DiscoverNI