10 Amazing Coastal Swimming Spots in Ireland

People wade in to the water at a beach in County Kerry Ireland

Updated On: May 13, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

One of Ireland’s best features 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 landlocked counties, almost everywhere you travel in Ireland will have a beach or swimming hole. That said, we’re here to help you pick your favourites. 

Dog’s Bay, County Galway

ireland
A panorama beach landscape of Dog’s Bay with large granite boulders in the turquoise water in County Galway in western Ireland

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 has gorgeous views and a soft, sandy, warm spot. This beach is truly stunning with water so crystal clear and blue, white sand between your toes, and plenty of space to wade into the calm waters. The only downside of the beach is the limited parking and the 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 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 near the James Joyce Museum, open for the summer months. This beach is excellent for families as it provides gorgeous views and calm shallow waters, which are 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

ireland
Looking at Galway Bay from Salthill, Ireland.

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. It is located just a 30-minute walk or 5-minute drive from Galway City, and 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 white sand and 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 get the actual 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 excellent beach town makes for a perfect vacation or 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. This beach is a must-see, with white sand and crystal-clear water. With its remote location, this beach is hardly ever busy and hosts activities such as volleyball and a picnic area. 

Clare Island has so much to offer beyond the beaches and incredible views. Great restaurants like the Anchor Bar & Bistro and Sailor’s Bar & Restaurant exist. Clare Island is perfect for a weekend away. There’s no better place to relax, rejuvenate, and take a break from the outside world. Walk along Clare Island’s cliffs or visit the lighthouse on the island. It’s a great spot to catch the sunset of the island. 

Whether you visit the beach or spend a weekend on Clare Island, you won’t regret your decision. 

Inch Beach, County Kerry

ireland

County Kerry is known for its 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, quiet getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Take some time to check out this great beach and all of its cool features. 

Silver Strand, County Donegal

ireland
The Silver Strand in County Donegal – Ireland.

Silver Strand is one of the most talked about beaches in Ireland. It is unique in 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 there. County Donegal is one of a kind with hidden waterfalls and views that are so gorgeous they almost don’t seem real. After spending 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

ireland

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 sunbathing. Much like Clare Island, the island is quiet and secluded, allowing space to spread out on the beach. With gorgeous mountains surrounding either side, you can also walk along these hills and see some of the incredible views they offer. 

Keem Bay is a great spot to spend a day on your weekend trip to Achill Island. The island is serene and wonderful, and Keem Bay Beach is just one part of it. 

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 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 it has to offer here

Fanore Beach, County Clare 

ireland

Clare is known for beaches that cater to both swimmers and surfers alike. Fanore Beach is great for a day trip or an 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 in the West of Ireland. Ballyquin Beach in Waterford is towards the East and is a much calmer, more tucked-in beach. The beach is located in Ardmore Bay and is used mainly for long beach walks and swimming. This sandy beach eventually turns into rocks, and the rock gives way to old wreckage. Ballyquin beach is a lovely beach in Ireland to either get some exercise or just lounge about.

It is located just around Ballyquin Beach in the town of Ardmore. A wildly historical town, Ardmore offers plenty of ground to cover. 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 excellent. 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. Try these beaches the next time you’re dying for a swim.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *