I think I might have found one of my new favourite places in Ireland or at least that I have definitely found the best place for a fun adventurous break in Ireland. I recently discovered a cool little town in Co. Donegal with beautiful beaches, lots of outdoor adventures and activities - Bundoran.
About two months ago two of my friends and I decided to do something different for this years Halloween weekend. We wanted to take a break but we also wanted to do something different. I’m a major snowboarding & wakeboarding lover so I thought it would be great to finally learn how to surf too.
I’ve been wanting to do it and thinking about it for so long now but for some reason I never got around to it. My sister told me about a meet up group called 'Surf Trips Ireland'. She has been taking these trips for a good while now, so I felt like it would be a perfect opportunity for us to do something fun and learn how to surf at the same time.
"I just wanna go on more adventures. Be around good energy. Connect with people. Learn new things. Grow” - Kid Cudi (Scott Mescudi).
When I suggested the idea to the girls they responded with a resounding YES and we literally booked our spaces there and then, six weeks in advance but in no time the Halloween weekend was here.
We decided to make it a road trip so we drove from Greystones with the first stop in Dundrum shopping centre for some lunch, then to Dublin to collect my sister and her friend and then to the final destination - Bundoran, Co. Donegal.
We arrived to the hostel at about 10pm that night which was situated right on the main street and my first impression was great. It had this cool and very chilled vibe about it with the surf boards hanging on every wall except for the bedrooms. It had a dining room, a sitting room that had the most comfortable couch where everyone hung out, a kitchen where everyone could go to and make themselves a cup of tea, coffee or grab a bite to eat and there was the outdoor area too.
We arrived about half hour before the rest of the group so we quickly checked in and by the time we unpacked the bus with the whole group was there.
It was a group of about 40 people and although we had never met before it’s safe to say the atmosphere was like none I had experienced. Everybody was so chatty and friendly and welcoming and you could tell that everyone was on the same positive happy vibe and it just felt so comfortable. The first thing I thought to myself was: "How is it possible that it took me so long to take one of these trips"?
I think the main reason why I never learned how to surf, considering that I am so passionate about snowboarding, wakeboarding and pretty much all water sports, was definitely the cold weather and freezing water temperature. In my head I always imagined myself learning how to surf in a lovely hot and sunny place with beautiful beaches so I could wear bikinis and have a cocktail afterwards :) but hey, life would be too easy if it always went the way we imagine it in our head, right?
I'm a strong believer in pushing the boundaries and going out of our comfort zone because when we do, it's kind of a big deal.
So I decided to give it a go and I wondered if it was going to make me feel anything close to the way snowboarding makes me feel and despite getting into the freezing water, it will be totally worth it.
It was the first time surfing for all three of us and about another ten people from the group too. The rest of the guys either had some previous experience or were pretty much like pros so it was a nicely mixed group.
We woke up the next morning, had our breakfast at the hostel and headed to the meeting point to get our gear and to prep for our first surf lesson. With our "luck" the temperature was the lowest we’ve had so far in Ireland this year - a lovely 3 degrees, which meant the water in the ocean was warmer than the actual air. Yay!
But we were all on the same boat and it was all very exciting.
Once we were all geared up we got to the mini bus which took us to the beach with ideal conditions for our beginners lesson. It was about a 20 minute drive with the most beautiful views and even though it was freezing outside it was sunny and it all just looked magical.
While we were on the bus the driver/instructor pointed at the mountain ahead of us which was covered in snow. How cool is that? It was snowing on the mountain but yet we’re about to go surfing in the ocean.
We got to the beach, got our surfboards and we started a group warm up. Straight after that we had our group lesson on the shore where we were shown all the basics and after the lesson we headed for the water. I was all excited, full of adrenalin and really wanted to give it a go at that point.
Once I got into the water I completely forgot about the cold that I was feeling before and I enjoyed the whole experience to the fullest. It was a lot of fun experiencing it all with my friends. We were cheering each other on, but we also laughed really hard at our first attempts, wipe-outs and that first duck-dive that clears your head. It took me a couple of fails before I managed to stand up but once I did I could stand up every time and Im not gonna lie - I was absolutely chuffed with myself and was literally screaming from the excitement.
It was such an unbelievable feeling. It almost feels like you have a free ride from nature. I had so much adrenalin rushing through my body every time I was waiting on that wave which was followed by an extreme amount of focus that allowed me to forget about everything else. In that moment it was just the waves and me and it felt AMAZING!
If you ever feel like you would like to give it a shot, but you're like me and you're a bit hesitant because of the cold weather, please don't be.
I promise you, the second you get into the water you'll forget all about it and as I mentioned above, you forget about everything else in the world and it will be just you and the ocean and that feeling is so worth it.
“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
― Christopher Columbus
We stayed in the water for about an hour or so and then we all went back together on the mini bus. Once we got back we stripped off the wetsuits and put our warm clothes on and it had to be one of the greatest feelings. Not because we were warm again, but it was such a great and satisfying feeling that we had actually done it.
We faced the cold and we did something out of our comfort zones and for me it was definitely an amazing experience altogether and something I just want to keep doing.
“You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.”
— Barbara Sher
Also what was making this whole experience so enjoyable was the fact that we were surrounded by these amazing, positive and like-minded people who were always making sure we're enjoying ourselves.
It’s the very first time I’ve been to Bundoran and whilst I’d heard of it and always wanted to go, I’d never really considered it as a 'break away' destination before, but here I am now singing the praises and telling you to put it on your destination list after only experiencing it for three days.
Bundoran is also nick named "Fundoran" due to so many fun activities available. Except that, there are lots of beautiful beaches, views and walks, cute little restaurants and pubs there too and in general this little town just has this amazing vibe to it.
Also as you might have picked up already from my pics above, I always admire the wall art and let me tell you, Bundoran has some amazing walls.
That night was the Halloween party. We all got our costumes on and got ready for a party. We mingled around the lodge, had fun, drinks, got to know each other a little better and we danced a lot - which as you can imagine I enjoyed very much. The energy that night was just amazing. Everyone was enjoying themselves, the laughs were infectious and I remember I was jumping up and down, smiling ecstatically throughout the whole night just thinking, how amazing life is and how much I am enjoying this trip!
On Sunday, our final day, we decided to take it easy and go for a long beach walk and explore Bundoran a little more.
It's hard to believe I have never been here before. I think it is absolutely beautiful little town and it has so much to offer.
It was a great Halloween weekend for all of us. We met some amazing people, made friends and some great connections, surfed, partied, laughed and made some unforgettable memories. And of course I can't forget - it was amazing to spend some quality time away and have long heart-to-hearts with my friends Sarah and Leah. To me it sounds like a perfect break away.
So what would be my advice to you?
When given the opportunity, step outside your comfort zone, push your own boundaries. You never know what you could learn about yourself and you may find so much fun along the way. It's amazing how one weekend can bring so much to your life. New friends, new memories, new experience, new energy and also it can show you how easy and natural it actually is to connect with new people.
And I can't recommend 'Bundoran Surf Co' enough! Absolutely amazing!
"Any time you can be with like-minded people, laughing or crying over the same joke or the same scene... For me it's therapeutic. You just feel a little less alone on the planet" -
Michael De Luca
I’m already excited for the next trip to 'Fundoran' which we have already booked. It's going to be a Christmas Surf Weekend and I can’t wait to continue on my surf journey and to spend another weekend with these lovely people.
What a great way to kick of the festive season!
Do you have any getaway destinations in Ireland you love to go to?
Make sure you let me know :)