Helena Tarn Art

Whirlwind Trip To Portrush

Ever since we moved to Ireland, the waves have been calling our names. The surf scene in Ireland is pretty underrated, but there are several coastal spots that are ideal to catch a wave or two. The wild Atlantic coastline is wild and turbulent and there are heaps of beautiful beaches. Yes its cold, but that is what wetsuits are for right – yep, even in the summer.

My husband has been desperate to have a go at surfing ever since he saw the epic waves here. We had visited Portrush in County Antrim briefly in the summer and it is the ‘capitol’ of Northern Irish surfing for good reason. It’s less that a two hour drive from our home, so it seemed the ideal place to give it a go. It was our anniversary, so as a gift I booked him a couple of surprise surf lessons with Troggs Surf Shop and I joined him on one of them. Troggs is run by surfing experts and former surf champions who are really enthusiastic about the sport. They had great reviews, so I knew they would be kind and helpful to complete newbies like us. My husband is pretty good at most sports he tries, but me.. well, lets just say I was panicking about how to even pick the board up before getting to the water, never mind actually giving surfing a go!

Surfing is one of those sports that is made to look so easy and effortless by the experts, but unsurprisingly, it is far from it. Not only does is take all your core strength and energy to master the technique and pull yourself up onto the board, but you are constantly being pummelled by the ocean and falling (not so elegantly) into the waves over and over and over again. But after lots and lots (and lots) of perseverance and encouragement from the instructor, I managed to float down a couple of waves mostly on my knees. I even stood up at one point (albeit for about two seconds…) although there is no photographic evidence of this so you’ll just have to take my word for it. It’s true!! So while I didn’t quite ‘Blue Crush’ it, it was great fun and really not as terrifying as I expected and I can’t wait to try it again and practice some more. But for my first ever go at surfing, I don’t think I was too bad, although I don’t think Red Bull will be knocking on my door anytime soon!

Of course the weekend was all about the surfing, but you can’t visit the Antrim coast and not take in some of that famous scenery. This part of the world is all about the Giant’s Causeway, which no doubt if you are a regular reader you know how much I love it there. But this time around, as time was limited, we made a stop into the tiny village of Ballintoy. Now famous as a Game of Thrones Filming location, Ballintoy harbour is found on the side of a hillside, surrounded by chalky cliff tops, black basalt crumbling into the sea and the wildest waves crashing against the rocky coastline.

It was early evening and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The sun was setting and it had been such a stormy day that the waves were crashing against the coast in a very dramatic fashion. Unfortunately the photos do not do it justice but it was one of those moments when the scenery just takes your breath away. I took a ridiculous amount of photos and videos, so I can imagine they will inspire a painting or two of mine in the not too distant future (watch this space…) Majestic and powerful and stunningly beautiful all at the same time. Breath-taking.

Ballintoy is one of those ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ places and is roughly halfway between the Giant’s Causeway and Ballycastle on the scenic Causeway Coast Way. Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area. And don’t worry if the weather isn’t so great – the wilder the better I imagine with those waves. Just make sure to stand back from that edge!

All this was followed by fish and chips and a pint of Guinness in nearby Bushmills – The perfect end to a perfect day! And after all that adventure and day’s activity, I’ve never slept so well!

I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know if you did below! Also are you a surfer or have you tried?? How ridiculously hard is it??? But, wow, what a feeling when you finally grab that wave, even if its not quite so elegant 😉

Until next time!

Photo credit: Troggs Surf School and Helena Tarn

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