One of the best features of Ireland is the beaches. Swimming? On an island that’s cold and rainy the majority of the year? Yeah, it doesn’t sound too pleasing. However, on a hot day (And yes, it gets HOT) or with a wetsuit, Ireland’s beaches are one of the best parts of this green country.
Ireland being the island that it is, has LOTS of beaches. With only 14 counties landlocked, almost everywhere you travel to in Ireland will have a beach or swimming hole of some sort. That said, we’re here to help you pick your favourites.
Dog’s Bay- County Galway
Starting with a tourist and local favourite, Dog’s Bay is perhaps one of the most gorgeous beaches in all of Ireland. Nestled and protected by mountains on either side, this beach not only has gorgeous views but a soft, sandy, warm spot. With water so crystal clear and blue, white sand between your toes, and plenty of space to wade into the calm waters, this beach is truly stunning. The only downside of the beach is the limited parking and small path that leads to the beach. However, if you can find parking this beach is unmissable.
Just beside the beach is the small village of Roundstone. It’s a great spot to grab a bite to eat after your beach day. Stop in at the BogBean cafe for delicious homemade food. Or try O’Dowd’s restaurant for a cup of their seafood chowder. Dog’s Bay and Roundstone make for a perfect day trip.
The Forty-Foot- County Dublin
The Sandycove or better known as the Forty-Foot is a great little swimming pool in the southern part of Dublin Bay. This historic swimming spot has been the local swim point for many years. What used to be a male-only swimming hole, this concrete beach is now open to men and women alike. Forty-foot and Sandycove beach is in close proximity to the James Joyce Museum which is open for the summer months. This beach is great for families as it not only provides gorgeous views but calm shallow waters, great for kids to paddle around in.
Close enough to this little cove is the bustling city of Dublin. Take the time out of your trip for a dip in this lovely swimming hole. It is a great way to get the best of both worlds.
Salthill- County Galway
The smell of the ocean, the boardwalk-like footpath, shops filled with sand buckets and floaties and 99’s on every corner. This is what Salthill has to offer, located just a 30-minute walk or 5-minute drive from Galway City, Salthill is the perfect place for a summer holiday or even just a pit-stop on your way to Galway. The beachy town is filled with not only white sand but a great diving platform at what is best known as Blackrock. You can often find people of all ages daring to jump in the sea year round.
Beyond the beaches and the diving platforms, Salthill has a variety of restaurants, pubs, and takeaways that are perfect for after a day at the beach. We recommend fresh seafood and locally brewed pints from Oslo Bar & Microbrewery. Lastly, you wouldn’t be getting the true Galway experience without walking along the Salthill Promenade or being known better by locals as the “prom”. The sun will set along the water, and the bay on a nice sunny day will give you views of the rolling hills of Clare. This great beach town makes for a perfect vacation or just a quick day trip.
Blue Flag Beach- Clare Island- County Mayo
Off the coast of County Mayo is Clare Island. A gorgeously set, barely touched, island. It is home to beautiful wildlife, friendly locals, and amazing beaches. The main beach on the island is Blue Flag Beach. With a white sand beach and crystal clear water, this beach is a must-see. With its remote location, this beach is hardly ever busy and hosts activities such as volleyball and a picnic area.
Clare Island itself has so much to offer beyond the beaches and amazing views. There are great restaurants such as the Anchor Bar & Bistro, and Sailor’s Bar & Restaurant. Clare Island is perfect for a weekend away. There’s not a much better place to relax, rejuvenate, and take a break from the world outside. Take a walk along Clare Island’s cliffs or visit the lighthouse located on the island. It’s a great spot to catch the sunset of the island.
Whether you decide to just visit the beach or spend a whole weekend on Clare Island, you definitely won’t regret your decision.
Inch Beach- County Kerry
County Kerry is known for stunning views, immaculate land and beaches and Inch Beach is no exception. Inch beach is also a great place to take your summer beach vacation. Inch beach has a variety of accommodation options. Whether you fancy camping under the stars or the warmth of a luxury hotel, Inch beach has you covered. Not only is the beach lovely, calm and picturesque but there are a variety of historical landmarks, and plenty of outdoor activities including kayaking, walking, fishing and surfing.
This beach offers a perfect and quiet getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Take some time to check out this great beach and all of the cool features around it.
Silver Strand- County Donegal
Silver Strand is one of the most talked about beaches in Ireland. It is unique to how secluded this swimming spot is. With mountains on either side, this bay is a hidden gem. The other nice part of Silver Strand in Donegal is that it is away from the normal groups of tourists. While this beach is normally busy during the summer, there is still plenty of parking. The water is usually pretty calm, however, there aren’t any lifeguards on duty so you should be careful when swimming.
Perhaps the other beauty of Silver Strand beach in Donegal is how close you are to other great attractions in Donegal. County Donegal is one of a kind with hidden waterfalls, and views that are so gorgeous they almost don’t seem real. After taking the day at the beach, visiting the coffee cart with a cool beverage and a snack, hop in your car and explore Donegal’s secret waterfall. This is just one of the many interesting spots that Donegal has to offer. To find out more click here.
Keem Bay- Achill Island- County Mayo
Another swimming spot in Mayo is Keem Bay. Located on another island of Mayo, Achill Island, Keem bay is another beach that is off the beaten path. The history of Keem Bay is built off of old summer homes, and lucrative shark fishing. Don’t worry, these sharks don’t venture too far in, and Keem Bay offers a sheltered nook for swimming, snorkelling, and sun-bathing alike. The island, much like Clare Island is quiet and secluded allowing for space to spread out on the beach. With gorgeous mountains surrounding either side, you can also take a walk along these hills and see some of the incredible views they have to offer.
Keem Bay is a great spot to spend a day on your weekend trip to Achill Island. The island as a whole is serene and wonderful, Keem Bay beach is just one part.
Trawmore Bay- Achill Island- County Mayo
Also on Achill Island is Trawmore Bay. Achill Island and more specifically Trawmore Bay is part of the Wild Atlantic Way. Nestled in this bay is Keel Beach. Like most west coast beaches, Keel has white sand and crystal clear waters. The beach is horseshoe-shaped and has a great path to walk along.
Remember that both Trawmore and Keem Bay are located on the remote island of Achill. That means that vacations here are laid back and all about having fun. You can read more about Achill and all they have to offer here.
Fanore Beach- County Clare
Clare is known for beaches that cater to both swimmers and surfers alike. Fanore beach is great for a day trip or evening swim. It is a small village near Doolin. Beyond this popular swimming spot are great fishing spots off the rocks. Fanore village is great for picking up bait before you head to the beach.
Once you get off the beach you should travel down to Doolin. There are some great restaurants such as The Ivy Cottage. This quaint restaurant is open from 12-8 most days and offers everything from brunch to fish and chips. It is a great place to stop for a bite to eat after the beach!
Ballyquin Beach- Waterford
Most of the beaches covered in this article are based in the West of Ireland. Ballyquin beach in Waterford is towards the East and therefore is a much calmer more tucked-in beach. The beach is located in Ardmore Bay and the beach is used mostly for long beach walks and swimming. This sandy beach eventually turns into rocks where the rock gives way to old wreckage. Ballyquin beach is a lovely beach in Ireland to either get some exercise or just lounge about.
Located just around Ballyquin beach in the town of Ardmore. A wildly historical town, there is plenty of ground to cover in the town. The town also offers maps and sites of more shipwrecks to discover. You can also stop at the Shipmates Ardmore for a bite to eat. The restaurant takes modern twists on Irish favourites and provides the perfect summer salad. Ballyquin beach and the surrounding town of Ardmore are perfect for a quick summer trip.
There’s no doubt that the beaches that encompass Ireland are amazing. With stunning views, crystal clear waters, and soft sandy beaches, it is a wonder how they don’t attract more visitors. On a warm summer’s day, the beaches can be seen filled with tourists and locals alike. Give these beaches a try the next time you’re dying for a swim.