Most Frequently Asked Questions About Surfing

Former Irish Champion and Pro Surfer John McCarthy of Lahinch Surf School is one of Ireland’s most experienced Irish Surfing Association qualified surf coaches. Below he goes through the most frequently asked questions about Surfing:

  1. What is the best way to start in surfing?

At the start to try out the sport it is best to get a beginner lesson or two with an ISA (Irish Surfing Association) qualified surf coach such as those listed on

  1. Do you need to be able to swim to surf?

As a beginner the lessons are held in waist deep water so you need to be confident enough in the water. You will fall off the board and get your head in the water. As you progress surfing, it’s good to be able to swim. Key rule – never let go of your board, it’s a float!

  1. How long does it typically take to master the basis skills of surfing?

It all depends on the person. Most people get standing on their first lesson but you need to keep practicing to get your pop-up right.

  1. Is there a structured surfing training programme/ courses?

The Irish Surfing Association have a course booklet you can follow. They’re available at any surf school for €10. At Lahinch Surf School we do 3 lesson surf courses every weekend, which are pretty intensive surf courses.

  1. Are there surfing competitions in Ireland for Adults/ Juniors?

The Irish Surfing Association have all the upcoming surf competitions on their website for both adults and "Groms" (young surfers!)

  1. How do you get involved competitively in surfing?

Practice! You need to be a member of the ISA for most surf competitions in Ireland. "Open" competitions like the Lahinch Open are get to start off, they’re great fun and really encouraging for newcomers.

  1. What kind of surfing Equipment should the beginner go for?

It is advisable for anyone getting into surfing to get a lesson. The instructor will watch your progression and can advise you on getting a board and wetsuit.

What you need – a good warm winter wetsuit for winter surfing 5,4,3mm (October – May). A summer suit 3,2,mm. Booties, hood, gloves.

It is important you buy a board that is suitable for you. Generally you’re looking for a board at least 1 foot taller than yourself. You start on a long board and as you progress move onto a smaller board. If you buy a board too small you won’t be able to stand, which turns people off surfing.

  1. Where are the best surfing locations in Ireland?


Beginners should be looking for beach breaks. We’re lucky in Ireland you’re not too far from surf anywhere along the west coast. You find the best waves along the Clare, Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Cork coasts.

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