Troggs Surf School - Portrush Surf School, Northern Ireland

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Northern Ireland Surf Breaks Beach Guide

Troggs Surf School's comprehensive online Beach Guide for the North Coast of Ireland has been formulated from our years of surf experience and local knowledge. Whether you are a travelling surfer, summer time tourist, or just learning to surf please have a look at our North Coast Beach Guide for beaches and surf breaks between Benone and Ballycastle. You can check for location, hazards, rocks, the best tides, swells, winds, photos etc.

Benone Strand

Benone Strand

Benone Strand, otherwise known as Magiligan Strand is popular with surfers from Limavady and Derry, follow the coast road for 8 miles from Limavady. Turn left at Benone Holiday complex and follow the signs to the beach.

Tucked in at the East end of Benone, lies a fairly consistent right hand bank in front of the friendly Downhill hostel. This wave can carry for over 150m plus, has steep walls and is sheltered from strong S/SW winds due to its cliffed backdrop. The wave is very uncrowded and over the years many perfect waves have gone unridden here. One of Irelands longest beaches, stretching for over 10km from Magilligan point to Downhill.

Waves get progressively bigger the further East you go from Magilligan Point. If you don't find an empty peak along this beach then something is wrong. At low tide the beach is very popular with kitesurfers, kite buggys and sand yachts etc. West of the Benone entrance behind the sand dunes lies a British Army shooting range, so check for access restrictions. No car parking fees. Waves here are more rolling and less violent than Portrush or Portballintrae, ideal for beginners and longboarders. From Magilligan Point, surf travelers can take the ferry to Greencastle in Co Donegal, then the R240 to Malin Head for surf.

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Castlerock Strand

Castlerock Strand

Take A2 West from Coleraine for 5-6 km. Turn right onto the B119 into Castlerock. The beach is well signposted. Many left and right peaks. Swell magnet. Nice peeling, long waves. Ideal for learners and longboarders. Challenging when big for experienced surfers too. Barmouth at East end of the beach has a right peeling machine like off the groyne wall for 200m+ when its on. Super-long bashable walls. If tired of going right, paddle across the river and surf the left on Portstewart side. Consistent. Intermediate plus.

  • Type: Beachbreak
  • Quality: Standard - Excellent
  • Peals: Lefts and Rights
  • Power: Standard
  • Experience: Intermediates to Expert
  • Tides: All tides
  • Swell size: 1ft - 6ft+
  • Swell direction: NW, N
  • Wind: S, SW

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Portstewart Strand

Portstewart Strand

Follow the signs from Portstewart for The Strand. At roundabout, pass the golf course on the left and head to the beach (owned by the National Trust so summer parking is £4/day unless you are the member). Super long beach, almost 3km, with plenty of peaks up and down. Just drive along the beach until you find your own personal play patch. Best spots are on either ends of the strand. Most peaks are consistent when open to N + NW swells. Generally the walls are not too steep so it's a good spot for learners/improvers. Very popular beach so its not uncommon in summer to see 2000 cars on the beach (don't forget to watch the tides and let some air out of your tyres to avoid an embarrassing sinking!)

East end is Baileys, adjacent to the town a sandbar which can produce a super long right. On its day, the longest ride on the North Coast. The take off spot does swing a bit so can be hard to line up. Watch the rips by the rocks. Intermediate plus. 3km down the beach at the West end is the Barmouth. A mechanical Left peels off the groyne from the River Bann, producing nice walls, not as hollow as other spots but great for manoveures. A rip along the groyne acts as a conveyor belt to take you back to the take off zone ater your ride, but watch it when it's bigger. Advanced only.

  • Type: Beachbreak
  • Quality: Standard - Excellent
  • Peals: Lefts and Rights
  • Power: Average, Fun
  • Experience: Intermediates to Expert
  • Tides: Mid to High
  • Swell size: 1ft - 4ft+
  • Swell direction: NW, N
  • Wind: S, SW

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The Slab

The Slab

The most infamous spot on the coast. Advanced only please. On you're way round the coast road between Portrush and Portstewart hidden under the cliff of Ballyreagh Golf Course lies the Slab. Its a dangerous, absolutly mental ledgy sucky wave.

The Slab breaks over a hideously shallow rock ledge, needs the right swell size, direction and wind before even mildy thinkable! Its arguably not a wave because its so short and mutant, but it throws a spectacular barrel. Don't think about surfing it unless you are experienced enough.

  • Type: Reef Break
  • Quality: Dangerous lurch-fest
  • Peals: Right
  • Power: Very Powerful
  • Experience: Expert only
  • Tides: High only
  • Swell size: 3ft+
  • Swell direction: NW, N
  • Wind: S, SW

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West Strand Portrush

West Strand Portrush

Head for Portstewart, from the Metropole corner at the lower end of the Coleraine Road. First left under the railway bridge, park in the carpark in front of the beach.

A variety of left and right peaks on this beachbreak. Consistent, liking a pushing mid tide to really get going. Watch out for the sharks (only kidding!) - but note the rocks at the far end of the bay. Being a premier resort on the North Coast, it gets easily crowded particularly in summer. Something for everyone here.

  • Type: Beachbreak
  • Quality: Standard
  • Peals: Peaks
  • Power: Fun
  • Experience: Beginners to Expert
  • Tides: Mid - High
  • Swell size: 3ft+
  • Swell direction: NW, N
  • Wind: S, SW

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Blackrocks Portrush

Blackrocks Portrush

Head for Portstewart, from the Metropole corner at the lower end of the Coleraine Road. First left under the railway bridge, park in the carpark in front of the beach. Blackrocks breaks at the West edge of the West Strand.

Classy Left hand reef break, reputedly the best on the north Coast. Fast, medium-long Lefts, with nice wedgy take-off, barrel section & inside wall for some turns. Tight take-off zone and fickle nature (needs exactly the right swell direction to fire properly).

  • Type: Reef Break
  • Quality: Standard - Excellent
  • Peals: Left
  • Power: Hollow
  • Experience: Intermediates to Expert
  • Tides: Mid - High
  • Swell size: 3ft - 6ft+
  • Swell direction: NW, N
  • Wind: S, SW

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East Strand Portrush

East Strand Portrush

On the east side of the Portrush peninsula, turn into the car park on Causeway Street. You can't miss the Arcadia.

If this wave is on, it is totally awesome! Very powerful, Hossegor style beachbreak. Fast, exploding left and right barrels often spitting. Famed for snapping boards. Consistent good right bank at the end of the promenade. Left and right peak in front of the stream. Size 4-6ft is best. Can hold 8ft in winter but is impossible to paddle out, so more advanced surfers run around the Arcadia and jump off the rocks. Does get crowded - when the big swells hit the coast, its protected. Also the least consistent of the North Coast's breaks. Watch for strong currents and rips when its big - advanced only then.

  • Type: Beachbreak
  • Quality: Standard - Excellent
  • Peals: Lefts and Rights
  • Power: Packs a punch
  • Experience: Intermediates to Expert
  • Tides: Mid - High
  • Swell size: Needs solid 3ft to break
  • Swell direction: NW, N
  • Wind: S, SW, W

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Whiterocks Portrush

Whiterocks Portrush

2 miles outside of Portrush on the coast road to Bushmills, turn left at the sign for "Whiterocks Beach" just past Royal Portrush Golf Course.

Whiterocks has multiple lefts and rights on its sandbars (rocky outcrops at the north end). Left and rights on this beach, pretty big swell window so it is quite consistent. Can get crowded but the treck up the beach for a perfect peak can be well worth it. All standards catered for.

  • Type: Beachbreak
  • Quality: Standard - Excellent
  • Peals: Closeouts
  • Power: Hollow closeouts
  • Experience: Beginners to Expert
  • Tides: Mid - High
  • Swell size: 1ft+
  • Swell direction: W, NW, N
  • Wind: S, SW, W

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Portballintrae

Portballintrae

4 miles from Portrush, go left on the A2 to Bushmills, drive past the harbour to the carpark to Bushfoot strand.

Portballintrae is a north coast swell magnet - the magnet of all magnets during summer. When swells are smaller and everywhere is flat, here it can be 4ft+. The deep water basin and steep shelving beach focuses swell to produce heavy barrelling lefts and rights. Some of the best tubes about when its firing. Renowned for snapping boards and people. Vast crowds on summer weekends (can be 50+ people in the water.) Better be good if its over 4ft!

  • Type: Beachbreak
  • Quality: Standard - Good
  • Peals: Lefts and Rights
  • Power: More juice than most
  • Experience: Intermediates to Expert
  • Tides: Mid - High
  • Swell size: 1ft+
  • Swell direction: W, NW, N
  • Wind: S, SW, W

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Whitepark Bay

Whitepark Bay

Take the A2 from Bushmills to Ballycastle. Turn left ater 4-5km by the youth hostel and park in the car park.

White Park Bay is a beautiful, long beach just past the Giant's Causeway with water more crystal blue than any other beach on our stretch of Northern Ireland's coast. Whitepark Bay offer multiple peaks with good lined up waves at the East end. The beach is obviously sand bottom but does have some rocky outcrops. Mid tide on the push is best for seriously long winter rides with incredibly powerful banks. Totally consistent, pretty uncrowded. Most people are put off by the long walk from the carpark to the beach.

To surf Portbradden, which is situated at the south west end of White Park Bay, park in the carpark and walk towards the Salmon Fishery.

Portbradden is a sheltered left, good in westerly gales, when surf is onshore or maxing out everywhere else. Portbradden is best at mid tide on the push. Its quite shallow, so its a good spot to loose a few fins! This is definately an intermediate to expert spot, especially when bigger. Watch out for the nasty big rip when its big.

  • Type: Beachbreak
  • Quality: Standard - Good
  • Peals: Lefts and Rights
  • Power: More juice than most
  • Experience: Intermediates to Expert
  • Tides: Mid - High
  • Swell size: 2ft+
  • Swell direction: W, NW, N
  • Wind: S, SW, W

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Ballycastle

Ballycastle

The beach is split into three distinct surfing zones, each being slightly different to the other. At the far eastern end of the break sits Pans Rock (long exposed finger of rock) and given the right swell produces long right hand walls that ends up in a close-out shorebreak. This is the best break on the beach for stand-up surfers.

The mid point in the beach (opposite the entrance/exit from the golf club) provides hollow, heavy tubes due the sudden change in depth. You'll need the correct swell direction for this to work well.

At the river mouth lies Ballycastle's trump card - the Wedge. A break designed only for bodyboarders or the best stand-ups, this wave will throw a four foot barrel from a three foot wall. Incoming swell doubles up with swell re-bounding off the harbour wall and produces one of the heaviest waves on the North Coast. Use the pier-barrels as an indicator to incoming swell, line-up with the re-bound and watch the tubes roll in! You have no option but to drop in seriously late, and by the time you've pulled you bottom turn you are guaranteed to be fully barreled. I've never seen it max out, and the shelter provided from the harbour wall protects it from horrible northerly winds.

On a seriously big swell, beyond Ballycastle is a reef-break heaven, but that's for another day! - (Info by John Bell)

  • Type: Beachbreak
  • Quality: Good
  • Peals: Left (wedge) and right (Pans Rock)
  • Power: Wedging juice
  • Experience: Intermediates to Expert
  • Tides: Push to High
  • Swell size: Needs solid 6ft+
  • Swell direction: NW, N
  • Wind: W, SW, S, SE

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