Mullaghmore Surf is a Big Wave Surfer's Dream

Big wave surfer at mullaghmore surf

Earlier this month, Europe’s Winter surf season began with a bang as big wave surfers flooded to Ireland to attack one of the most daunting surfs the Wild Atlantic Way has to offer: Mullaghmore.

This first swell of the season surprised everyone with pleasant light winds and clear skies. The Mullaghmore surf was full of excitement as surfers and bodyboarders alike appreciated the perfect conditions and incredible display of skill around them.

Mullaghmore? Is that a place?

Mullaghmore surf at wild atlantic way
Ireland’s coast of castles and cliffs juts out into the small peninsula of Mullaghmore, reaching well into the North Atlantic. Waters along this peninsula, specifically at Mullaghmore Head, are known as some of surfing's best for big wave surfers. Although it’s not as well known as Portugal’s Nazare, Mullaghmore is Ireland’s most popular destination for big wave surfing.

Surfers know “Mully” as one of unpredictability.

Ireland’s waters are known for big, cold, intimidating waves, and Mullaghmore is no exception. On a large windy swell, only the most confident surfers attempt to ride it, but can occasionally catch some of the biggest and longest tubes there are.

One thing the surfers all know?

On big days, there’s no exit except for the end of the tube. Mully is brutal.

A {very} brief history of big wave surfing:

big wave surfer

While the origination of big wave surfing is not completely clear, most people think it all began at Waimea Bay.

Waimea Bay forged its name as big waves surfing capital, after the classic story of Woody Brown and Dickie Cross. When a swell came quickly at sunset beach in 1943, these surfers were forced to paddle three miles to Waimea Bay in hopes of coming to shore there. While Woody Brown barely made it in alive, Dixie Cross did not, and Waimea wasn’t surfed again for over 10 years.

In 1957, despite heavy superstitions around this surfing spot, Greg Noll finally rode Waimea successfully. This ride, to most, is seen as the beginning of big wave surfing as we know it today.

So when did the rest of the world join in?

Hawaii surfs continued to dominate as pioneers of big wave surfing kept finding bigger and bigger waves there. By the early 70’s though, word started to spread about incredible surf in Mexico after pictures leaked of Puerto Escondido at the Mexican Pipeline. Next up was the US when Mavericks became public. After surfing it alone for 15 years, Jeff Clark finally revealed this monster, and kickstarted big wave surfing along the West Coast. Slowly but surely, the whole world joined in.

Fast forward a bit to the early 2000’s when Europe finally hit the map as a big wave surfing destination after Nazare in Portugal was discovered as a global beast where a world record was captured by Garrett McNamara with a 78-foot wave ridden.

Big wave fever- it’s a thing.

At some point, surfers just became addicted to paddling into very big and oftentimes, very cold waves.  

mullaghmore surf wave

The exciting thing about Mullaghmore and other giants like it, is the preparation that goes into them. Not only do big wave surfers have to know the in’s and out’s of the water to remain safe, but tons of research on conditions and weather patterns must be gathered to know when the best swells will come at all. For the biggest and baddest, you won’t even know until days prior when exactly they might fire.

So is Ireland really a big surf destination then?

We say yes, but maybe we’re just looking for an excuse to take a trip…

Tom Butler, a professional big wave surfer from the UK told Stab in an interview about surfing Mullaghmore that he thinks Ireland has now become a place to go. “I think it has, and year after year it’s getting busier. The participation of irish surfers is growing too, lots of weekend warriors from Dublin. But a lot of people come and dip their toes in the water and go, ‘fuck that!’”

Relatable, right?

Maybe we’re not all big wave surfers, but if you’ve ever surfed in less than the warmest waters, you have a special appreciation for this bit of advice:

A Good Wetsuit is Key

winter wetsuit on big wave surfer

Whether you’re thinking of going to Ireland, or sticking stateside, a great wetsuit will help you continue to shred no matter what the season. Some of the best surfing can be found this time of year, but having a wetsuit that you don’t hate, and also keeps you warm is the difference between convincing yourself to get out there on even the chilliest of mornings.

At Anchor Chief, we know the wetsuit struggle. They can be a total pain, especially when trying to get it on and off. But we also don’t like limitations, and cold water isn’t reason enough to keep us away from some of the best surfing there is.

To us, it’s important to have all the tools necessary to take on any wave, anywhere, at any time of year.

That’s why we offer all types of men’s and women’s rubber. From spring shorties to full body steamers, we’ve got you covered.

Feeling up to the Mullaghmore surf?

If you’re really feeling like tackling the cold but rewarding waters of Ireland, we’ve got some suggestions for you:

  1. Go with a full length wetsuit- You’ll be happy you did as these frigid waters are unrelenting this time of year. A classic wetsuit that you really like is something you’ll be thankful for years down the road.
full length winter wetsuitfull winter wetsuit
  1. Try a wetsuit jacket- If you need an extra layer, they’re perfect for windy swells and protect you from the harsh European wind chill whether you’re wet or dry. We like introducing a more fun color way option into these since you don’t wear them as often.
winter wetsuit jacket menswinter wetsuit jacket mens
  1. Tell us about it! We’re dying to go ourselves, so we can’t wait to hear about your adventures to this new must-go surf spot. Leave a comment to tell us how your wetsuits fare!

Shop more wetsuits at Anchor Chief!