15 September by Eleanor McGillie

With the autumn season now in full swing there’s still a buzz around West Strand in Portrush. Eleanor McGillie speaks to Ricky Martin, owner of Alive Surf School, to find out why surfing in Northern Ireland is good for Northern Ireland tourism all year round

A short break in Portrush is pretty special. There is an eclectic mix of people around from surfers, body boarders, walkers, people looking to do coasteering, families enjoying the sea views, fishermen heading out of the harbour on their boats, people drinking coffee, joggers and children loving the natural environment which surrounds them.

Surfing with Alive Surf School in Portrush Northern Ireland

This summer, Portrush was busy. But as September creeps in the vast majority of visitors leave which means there a different opportunity for visitors to explore.

But what a way to start the day – sun, sea, sand and lots of surf. Wakening up in Portrush when the sun is glistening off the sea is a pretty special view. Hoards of people, young and old, are zipping up their wetsuits in preparation for a day of surfing.

Surfing is a key attraction on West Strand. Surfers travel the world to find the right waves, the right location, the right accommodation. But not only that, families in Northern Ireland are always keen to try new things. Children are keen to learn and everyone wants to #liveitexperienceit.

Ricky Martin’s Alive Surf School is one of the longest standing surf school’s on the North West coast. It attracts young people, families, groups of friends and people who just want to enjoy mother nature in order to enhance their well being.

surfing in Northern Ireland

It’s the middle of September and gathered around the Alive Surf School van is a group of young women who have decided to try surfing.

“People of all ages come to us because we have built up a strong reputation as being a surf school which treats people based on their individual capabilities. Not everyone loves the water, not everyone can swim and not everyone is confident so these are all things as instructors we take into consideration,” said Ricky.

“But the one thing everyone has in common is the desire to try out a sport which is good for physical strength, mental well being and, from a commercial perspective, we attract tourists to this part of Portrush because we have some of the best waves along the coastline.

surfing in Northern Ireland - Ricky Martin, owner of Alive Surf School and Co-Owner of The Skunkworks Surfboard Co

“The North West coast is a very special place. We aim to give our customers the best customer experience possible. This morning there’s a great buzz here. We had a great summer but we tend to get a different visitor during autumn and winter. This is brilliant because tourism in Northern Ireland is really an all year round sector now.”

Surfing is definitely a life changing experience. If you have never tried it before it’s something which you will learn to love. It is definitely a sport where practice makes perfect but as well as that you build confidence, you learn to respect the sea, you learn about your own strengths and you meet new friends.

Ricky said: “The group this morning are fantastic. These young women have come here as a group of friends who want to try something new. They are enthusiastic, they listen and they thoroughly enjoy jumping over waves, getting thrown around in the surf and they have all been laughing for the duration of the two hour lesson.

surfing in Northern Ireland

“What’s even better is that at the end of the lesson they have all said they are coming back for more which is brilliant to hear.

“Our guide to surfing is simple. We make it fun, it’s affordable and people walk away having had a fantastic experience.”

Go surfing with Alive Surf School.

Live It Experience It’ is a cluster of tourism businesses working together to promote our region through water, air and land based activities, food and drink and great places to stay. If you would like to become a member business in our ‘Live It Experience It’ cluster please submit your information through our online form. Pitch your business and meet like minded tourism businesses who you could cluster with. #liveitexperienceit

Live It Experience It - surfing in Portrush with Alive Surf School


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Eleanor McGillie

About Eleanor McGillie

Eleanor spent eight years working in the south west of England - one of the UK's most popular tourism hotspots. During her stint working with key players in the tourism sector she developed a love for all things outdoor adventure. As a journalist she got to travel to remote corners of the world to write travel features about the experiences of a particular place. Northern Ireland's story needs to be told and needs to reach new audiences. Live It Experience It aims to attract tourists from outside Ireland, people from Ireland and people who live in Northern Ireland but aren't aware of the extent of the adventures on our own doorsteps.