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After mastering the dance on dry land, I give it a go in the ice-cold water, but still with no board, just standing and being dragged through the waves, battling for control. The final step is to use a board, stand up and surf. This is the most difficult dance of all, and the most exciting. “It’s how you make love with the waves,” Colussi says.

You can travel up to 50kmph when kitesurfing, which is way faster than most things move on Achill. This is the sort of island on which sheep and cows often block the road, and can be found wandering through the ruins of deserted villages. Local farmers take their tractors to patrol the beach for driftwood, and you’ll spot donkeys and reeks of hay. In many ways, water defines Achill – the ocean batters the coast, and soft rain falls almost constantly. 

With no street lights, the nights are long and bright with stars. But there are signs of life in the darkness, notably a lively après-kitesurfing scene in Pure Magic’s bar. Many of these sport scenesters are on their Apple Airs, Facebooking friends in Hawaii, Morocco, Brazil and the Cape Verde islands – the top kitesurfing destinations. But according to Kirsty Jones, a Welsh world champion kitesurfer I get chatting to in Pure Magic, Achill is the best. “The ocean is pure, Atlantic water. You feel a slap in the face like – Yes! I’m alive!” Pure Magic, in Dugort in the north of the island, serves a fine pizza, but if you want a Guinness you have to walk further west to the village of Keel and the Annexe Inn, where you’ll find a band of players on accordion, bodhran (traditional Irish drum) and penny whistle, belting out folk songs.

The next morning the waves are high, the wind strong, and the water bracing. I unroll my kite on the beach. A rainbow arches right over the island as far as the dark distant cliffs. Colussi reaches up and tries to touch where it falls. “There’s loads of special places in the world, but none of them are Achill,” he says. “There’s something magical here.”

Keep reading for our budget guide and travel information


Short Break: Kitesurfing off Ireland’s wild and beautiful Achill Island
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