Keel Beach, Achill Island, Co. Mayo

Not far off being one of the most westerly points in Europe,  Achill Island is a wind and swell magnet.  Watch any weather system that heads in from the Atlantic, and you can be sure that Achill and surrounding areas are getting the most wind.

Keel Beach is Achill’s main wavesailing and surfing location, but the Island also boasts a number of other beaches and reefs, accessible in almost any wind direction.

Super clean water, waves almost guaranteed, and the most stunning scenery.  Just behind Keel beach, there is also a large freshwater lake with shallow water, perfect for learning, speed sailing and freestyle heaven.  Even after a good day’s wavesailing it’s fun to drop in here and have a quick blast down the lake on a 3.3m.

Beach Faces:

S/SW

Best Wind Direction:

NW is cross off.

Best Wind Direction For Waves:

SW to W will bring swell.  Wait till it goes W to NW for good riding. SW is great for big jumping sessions.

Not Good:

East wind, find other spots on the island.

Tide:

Mid-tide on the push.

What’s On The Bottom:

Sand, apart from at the top western end of the beach where there are some small rocks and reef which is only visible on a very low tide.

Any Hazards:

Watch out for the rip at the top end of the beach.  If the swell is big this rip leads out to sea on an outgoing tide.  Be sure your kit is in good nick.

Other Water Users:

Surfers from the local adventure center on foamies and dolphins are a regular feature.

Suitability / Levels:

Beginners to Advanced. Beginners at the top end of beach where the waves are smaller.  If the waves are too much, head for the lake for freestyle or to the pub.

Wipeout Factor:

On a big day, it can feel like ‘survival at sea’ stuff.  If it’s too windy just wait a while, the weather round here usually changes every few hours.

In cross-on conditions, beware when you think you are out the back as huge, house sized waves that you cannot out-run have a habit of appearing and testing your ability to swim after your kit for 500 metres.  HANG ON to your kit if at all possible!

Instruction:

YES for beginners on the lake through to advanced wavesailing from Gareth Allen at Windwise. www.windwise.ie

Kit Hire:

NO

Friendly Factor:

Always someone to surf and sail with, and if it’s too windy just head to the lake for some freestyle on a 3.3m.  Good for washing out the wetsuit too!!

No Wind Alternatives:

Always someone to surf and sail with, and if it’s too windy just head to the lake for some freestyle on a 3.3m.  Good for washing out the wetsuit too!!

Surfable?:

Yes, very much so.  Good for any style of board, and if it’s big and onshore at Keel, take a trip to the other side of the island where plenty of reefs offer superb riding.  Where are they?? Go explore!

Facilities:

Toilets

Yes, on the beach near the shop.

Shower

No

Windsurfing Shop

No, try Surfdock in Dublin. www.surfdock.ie

Food

Shop one minute walk away.

Parking

Free but it can get quite busy.

Pub

Achill Head, Annex.. and 20 more.  Take your pick.  The ‘disco’ in the Achill Head is a must.

Accommodation:

Campsites & hostels, B&B’s, self catering cottages.  See: www.achilltourism.com

Local Hotshots:

Gareth Allen. www.windwise.ie

Local Knowledge / Secrets:

Go exploring and you will find perfect reef breaks and the most un-crowded waves you will ever see.

Extra:

Hosts a round of the Irish Wave Sailing Championships every year. This year it blew 40 knots for nearly 3 days. (See video clips)

How To Get There:

All roads in Ireland radiate out from Dublin.  Best to fly into Dublin or get a ferry from Holyhead.  You can drive up from Cork, Kerry or Shannon but the roads are so bad that way and there are so many other good beaches on the way, chances are you will never get to Achill unless you have a month to explore Ireland.

Report By:

Oisin Van Gelderen

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