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Llyn Peninsula Surf Guide

The Llyn Peninsula has some beautiful beaches and headlands and is now starting to become a popular surfing destination servicing the North West population. However, due to the position of the Llyn in a geographical sense, consistent and surf don’t normally go in the same sentence. Located in the Irish Sea, open water swells have to squeeze between the most southerly point of Ireland and westerly point of South Wales. Hence the swell window required for producing quality waves is relatively small.

Hell’s Mouth (Porth Neigwl) is probably the most renowned and popular surfing beach in the area. The 4 mile long open stretch of sand faces south west and tends to pick up most swell. This beach holds a number of different breaks & local winds are offshore when from the north through to east. Straight out in front of the walkway to the beach is most heavily surfed, for obvious reasons. The quality of the beachbreak is dependant upon the sand banks and tide state can also have a massive effect on wave quality. Both ends of the beach next to the headlands offer reef breaks.

Hells MouthPorth CeiriadPorth Oer

Porth Ceiriad is the next bay east from Porth Neigwl, where the beach faces a more southerly direction. Access to the beach is over private farmland so the beach is secluded and also quite steep in profile. Porth Ceiriad is a much less popular surfing beach due to the nature of the wave. The swell bounces unpredictably off the cliffs and produces a series of peaks down the beach. Predominantly a left, it is a fast, short and hollow wave that is difficult to surf. This is surfed heavily by locals who can read the wave and is no place for beginners. A thick lip off the peak will even punish competent surfers when it gets over head. Not as consistent as ‘The Mouth’ but when it is working the surfers will be aggressive like the wave, watch out!

The most popular surf spot on the north coast is Porth Oer. When the swell on the open beach is maxing out with onshore winds, the north coast is the place. This is a small sandy cove where surfing is not allowed in the summer due to local by-laws although it very rarely works, especially at that time of year. The cove is very small and it doesn’t handle a crowd very well so waves are heavily contested for. The wave is easy to pick up then is fast and hollow on the inside.

All the above-mentioned surf spots on the right day can produce fantastic waves. However, that doesn’t happen very often as there are so many factors that need to come together to create quality surf conditions. Firstly, the small swell window is mostly responsible for lack of consistency. A low pressure system needs to be deep with a SW fetch to produce ground swell of any quality. Often westerly and northwesterly fetches are more dominant and can produce swell however it has to wrap around the southern point of Ireland before getting to our beaches at which point the swell will be significantly smaller in size and power. Secondly, the tidal range we have plays havoc with approaching swell since the Irish Sea is relatively shallow with tidal fluctuations. Last of all, local wind direction is a problem as the majority of the time the swell and wind arrive together. This fickle window of opportunity makes for a surf culture where being in the right place at the right time can mean everything. Good luck!!

Many thanks to Johnny from Offaxis for this guide. Based in Abersoch, Offaxis is a wakeboarding and surfing centre run by professional wakeboard and surf coaches. Group wakeboarding lessons and private wakeboard tuition is provided for beginners and experts alike. Similarly, you can learn to surf in a group or have a private surf lesson all to yourself or with your friends. Visit their site at www.offaxis.co.uk.

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