Garretstown, County Cork, Ireland - Boards Windsurfing

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Garretstown, County Cork, Ireland

Garretstown beach is approx 35 minutes from Cork City. Situated very close to the Old Head of Kinsale, this stretch of coastline benefits from good swell all year round, and Garretstown is one of the most exposed parts of this coast.  It has recently proved it’s worth once again by being one of the venues for the Irish Wavesailing champs, hosted by Kinsale OEC.  There are other beaches in the area that will offer good waveriding (Incheydoney in particular), but when the wind swings North-west and the swell is big, the beach or reef at Garretstown will keep even the most advanced wavesailor happy.

Beach Faces:


Best Wind Direction:

North-westerly, which is cross-off. West is good too, but if it’s South-west, it’s best to go to Coolmaine.

Best Wind Direction For Waves:

South-westerly to bring up the swell then swinging West to North-west.

Not Good:

Southerly is onshore, northerly straight offshore, but this will be perfect for surfing!


Not a big tidal range, best conditions are mid tide.

What’s On The Bottom:

Sand, and a couple of small groynes at high tide.

Any Hazards:

Groynes and a reasonably heavy shore break. There can be a lot of water movement when windy, making the place even more exciting!

Other Water Users:

As the nearest decent surf beach to Cork City, there can be plenty of surfers though they will tend to stay down at the left end of the beach. In the summer evenings, up to 75 surfers have been counted!  Chances are though if it’s good surfing weather it ain’t good enough to windsurf.

Suitability / Levels:

Intermediate in light conditions and small swell.  Experts in heavier conditions as the big sets will close out and take no prisoners.

Wipeout Factor:

It only takes a Force 5 or above for you to get a really good working. The wave can be dumpy and pretty heavy. Watch out for the rip as you can end up on the rocks at the east end of the beach if underpowered.



Kit Hire:

None, although you can hire surfboards.

Friendly Factor:

It can feel quite isolated, but those out are friendly.

No Wind Alternatives:

It can feel quite isolated, but those out are friendly.



Toilet block right on the beach.



Windsurfing Shop

None. The nearest is Jamie Knox in Brandon Bay or in Dublin.


Supermarket in Ballinspittle (5mins) and Hurleys Pub does great food.




Hurleys in Ballinspittle.


Garretstown Holiday Homes right on the beach.
Decent B&B in Ballinspittle:
Camping and Caravan Park on the road to Ballinspittle.
However, like most of Ireland, just pulling up and kipping in your van is not a problem either.

Local Hotshots:

Jeff Cochrane

Local Knowledge / Secrets:

On big days it’s best to head out to the reef for some seriously good jumping and riding on a mid tide.

When it’s big, the shore break on the main beach will be something to contend with, but is well worth the effort.  You can launch from either Garretstown and sail down, or Garylucas and sail upwind.

Just around the corner is Garylucas beach, which works well in a South-east wind and is also popular with kiters for its more forgiving nature.

3 or 4 miles away is Coolmaine beach, which is actually the most popular wavesailing spot.  Here the waves are more mellow and you have an option on a high tide to launch BEHIND the break and sail in.  Excellent conditions for intermediates or those learning to wave sail.

In an East, South-east or West wind, intermediates and freestylers can head around the corner to the slipway (just past the Pink Elephant pub) and get great blasting and freestyle conditions in Courtmacsherry Estuary. However, on an ebbing tide, watch out for the rip out to sea which can be strong in places.


A round of the IWA Wave Champs is held here every autumn.

How To Get There:

From Cork City drive through picturesque Kinsale and follow signs for the ‘Old Head’ or Ballinspittle.  Once through the village, keep left and follow the road for 1 and a half miles to the coast.

Report By:

Oisin Van Gelderen


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