More than a few people thought I had lost my mind when I told them I was going surfing in Bundoran, Ireland. Since I live in California, they didn’t understand why I just wouldn’t surf at home… I live in Santa Barbara, and I’m only 10 minutes from Rincon.
Well first off, my attempts at surfing haven’t been too successful… That, however wasn’t the reason. I had better luck at Stand Up Paddling. It was going well, so I focused on that.
Just as I was getting confident, signs about a shark attack started appearing on the local beaches. A sea lion in the marina had become a meal for a shark!
Uggghhh… That immediately put a halt on all my water activities. All I could think about was sharks! I was more than freaked out.
It’s one thing to be out there paddling among dolphins, quite another to be with something that thinks you are food. Since I had halted SUP, surfing wasn’t really topping my list of things to do in California!
Apparently, sharks like warmer water, and we’ve had a lot of it in California lately.
Ireland’s water is much colder, so when I came across a groupon special offered by Bundoran Surf Co. I jumped on it! This was my chance to surf!
The Groupon Deal included lodging, breakfast, a surfboard, and a wetsuit. What a deal! I chose to upgrade to a private room for a small additional fee. It was quite large, and well worth it. I could have brought friends!
I arrived early evening in Bundoran. The Éireann Bus had taken the scenic route from Dublin, and I actually crossed into Northern Ireland. For awhile I thought I had taken the wrong bus!
After settling in, I headed to Maddens Bridge Bar for food. The fish and chips were really good, and the chocolate fudge cake is to die for! Get the chocolate cake if you go!
I grabbed a pint, and listened to a Trad Session before heading back to the surf lodge. I decided to call it an early night, so I could actually get up to surf in the morning. The 8 hour time difference was tough, and I had been starting my days in Ireland around 2:00 in the afternoon.
Morning was rough to say the least. I ate breakfast, drank lots of coffee, and then suited up in a damp wetsuit. Are they supposed to start out wet? Brrrrr…. I was cold, tired, and kind of grouchy. I am not a morning person.
After my cranky morning whining, I boarded the The Bundoran Surf Co. van heading to Tullan Strand, and with any luck would soon be surfing the Atlantic.
Once on the beach, we stretched, and learned how to paddle while still on land. I was ready for the water! Next we did some swimming, and were taught how to get out of a riptide… Things you generally don’t think about, but really need to know. Thanks guys!
Time to grab the boards… The waves seemed to be coming from several different directions. It was a little overwhelming at first, but in a good way. It’s that moment when you realize the sheer power of the ocean, and how small you are in it. There is no time for fear, only respect for the environment that you are in.
I got on the board, up onto my knees, and promptly fell off. On my way down, I swallowed a mouthful of salt water. Holy good God! I was not expecting that. I regrouped, tried again, and kept my mouth shut. This time when I fell in, the water shot straight through my nose! And, I thought standing would be the hard part.
With the help of a really great instructor, and a lot of determination I stood up! Finally… Success! I don’t even know how it happened, but it was truly exhilarating, and I wanted more!
I managed to stand several more times before we headed back to lodge.
Riding back in the van, everyone was sharing stories of their own challenges as well as the excitement of the moment they actually surfed! Once back at the lodge, we were treated to some much needed hot cocoa and cookies.
I’m not sure how much surfing I will do in the future, since it most likely would be in California… That is yet to be determined. I am, however, extremely grateful that I was able to surf in Bundoran, Ireland. It was definitely an experience of a lifetime.
Thank you Bundoran Surf Co. for an amazing experience. You guys are awesome! I just might have to come back!
Check out Things To Do In Bundoran, Ireland