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Ireland

Surf: So Ireland may not be known for its gloriously sunny weather, but the surf is so good in Bundoran, in County Donegal, that no one cares. It’s all about doubling up on the wetsuits and getting out there in the chilly Atlantic Ocean. From big barrels to fast breaks, whatever kind of wave you’re after, you’ll find it here – most surf spots are easy to get to by bike or on foot from the town.

Get schooled: First-timers should go for a surf and stay package deal at Bundoran Surf Co, which includes bed and breakfast accommodation at the Surf Lodge and a varying number of group lessons.

The company also runs an academy which is aimed at intermediate level and above surfers – to work out what you are, the minimum required level of ability is to be able to catch an unbroken wave on a hardboard, have a reasonable pop-up and be able to paddle out the back most of the time.

Apres-surf: Despite the fact Bundoran is a fairly small town, in typical Irish style, there are still more pubs here than you’ll know what to do with. As soon as you get out of the water you’ll want to head to one of the locals to warm up by the fire with a pint of Guinness and some hearty Irish pub grub.

Getting there: Fly from London Gatwick to Knock from £123pp return with Aer Lingus

 

Extreme surf spots: Would you brave sharks for a wave?

Most people associate a surf holiday with warm weather, golden sands and, well, fun. But at these extreme spots, surfing can be a dangerous game. From plummeting temperatures to vicious shark attacks, these are the sets only Europe’s most daring are willing to catch.

France

Every surfer’s worst nightmare came true for one poor chap surfing off the coast of France’s Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean just last month. A killer shark attacked him as he was out catching waves (on his honeymoon – just to make the story even worse). This is the third fatal shark attack to take place on the island in the past two years, so probably a spot to avoid for the time being. 

Iceland

Anyone surfing around the UK is used to a few chilly changing sessions with numb fingers and toes, but hit the waves in Iceland and you’re into a whole new level of agony – the water temperatures are as low as 2-3°C. Is it worth it? Lots of people seem to think so, as there’s a tour operator in action, Arctic Surfers, which runs surf and camping trips, along with surf and ski trips, to truly make the most of the icy conditions. Only for the truly insane, we think. Brrr!


Portugal

OK, so we’ve been banging on about how brilliant the surf in Portugal is, but that’s not to say some parts of the coast aren’t absolutely lethal, especially if you’re not a big wave expert.

Waves in Nazaré are so notoriously powerful that they’ve been nicknamed the “surfboard breaking machine”. In fact ‘big wave’ takes on a whole new meaning here due to the undersea canyon that runs between the cliffs and the shore and creates huge surges of water that are only surfable by real professionals – and even then it’s seriously bonkers.

The record for the biggest wave ever surfed was broken here in January this year by Hawaiian rider Garrett McNamara. It was over 100ft high.

 

Photos: Getty; Thinkstock


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Europe's best surf schools: From Canary Islands to Ireland, learn to ride waves like a pro
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