Chasing waves in Donegal

The journey becomes part of the adventure in an electric crossover

Three Bundoran surfers pack their boards in the new Kia Niro EV and head out to catch some surf, with plenty of range to follow the best waves along the Wild Atlantic Way

Surfers Ciaran O’Reilly, Gerald Arbuckle and Danielle Murphy outside Bundoran Surf Co, a one-stop shop with a surf store and lodgings for surfers visiting the area.

“I love it here,” Danielle Murphy says. “The waves, the wilderness all around. I have no plans to leave.” The zoologist and surf instructor is extolling her love of Bundoran, the small village in south Donegal which has become a mecca for surfers over the last two decades.

In high summer, the seafront here is awash with visitors — beginners mostly — looking to catch their first wave. In winter, the tourists drift away and, in their place, international pros and riders come to stay.

They are in pursuit of big swells like the one Ciaran O’Reilly caught the previous day in Mullaghmore. “Right now, we have surfers from Hawaii and Kiwis visiting,” he explains. “They come into the shop looking for hardware — leashes and fins, the kind of equipment they need to head out there this time of year.”

Ciaran is a surfer and musician who works in Bundoran Surf Co, a shop and lodge that offers instructors a bed while training or teaching. It’s here that he and Danielle, along with local coffee shop owner Gerald Arbuckle, met.

A stone’s throw from Surf Co, Gerald’s cafe Foam serves up hearty fare for hungry sea-goers. The coffee enthusiast imports his own custom roast beans from Nicaragua, but any spare time is spent chasing the next wave. “I love this time of year when it quietens down,” Gerald says. “I have more time to escape to the sea.”

Surf road trips

For the three friends, this is their shared obsession — the proximity of the ocean and the endless opportunities to catch the next break along the wild Atlantic coastline. They’re fresh off a road trip, and their excitement is still palpable.

“We headed to Rossnowlagh Beach, about 16 kilometres from Bundoran village,” Gerald says. The beach stretches from the cliffs at Coolmore to the rocky outcrop at Carrickfad and is renowned as one of Ireland’s main surfing beaches.

It was the first destination for the gang in the Kia Niro, a fully electric crossover. “Three surfers, three surfboards,” Danielle laughs. “We loaded up and headed off. That was the first big thumbs-up from me — we had plenty of room in the Kia for all of our gear.”

“It was my first time driving an electric,” Ciaran adds,” and I’ll admit, I was a sceptic. I’ve always been a bit of a petrolhead. Immediately I was blown away. The power, the comfort, and its responsiveness — I’m fully converted.”

Sporty and spacious

The Kia Niro EV is built for adventurers like Ciaran, Danielle and Gerald. Spacious and comfortable, with safety features including collision avoidance and lane assistance, it’s a vehicle that makes the journey to a surf point a savoured part of the adventure.

For the surfers, the Niro’s additional features can significantly elevate their experience. LED headlamps and power-folding mirrors mean it’s equipped for reaching off-road coves before sunrise, while the dual-zone climate control and heated seats are the little comforts that make all the difference. “Being able to heat up after a swim is a big plus,” Ciaran laughs.


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