Summer is officially here, so you know what that means; it’s time to go to the beach! Let us save you some thinking and help you plan a vacation in Ireland, where nature’s beauty knows no bounds. You can’t find another place with such breathtaking beaches.
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How Many Beaches Does Ireland Have?
Ireland boasts an impressive array of over 140 stunning beaches, stretching along a magnificent coastline that spans over 3,000 kilometres. The west coast of Ireland is renowned for its expansive sandy beaches, which offer a truly astonishing and unparalleled experience. While the east coast is renowned for its majestic rocky shores and extraordinary cliffs, providing a unique and captivating landscape that will leave you in awe.
Top 10 Beaches in Ireland
Among its many treasures, the beaches of Ireland stand as a testament to the country’s breathtaking allure. Ireland’s beaches are an amazing choice for a wide range of beachgoers, from those seeking large stretches of golden sand to those seeking quiet, hidden coves. Here are 10 breathtakingly beautiful beaches in Ireland:
Inch Beach, County Kerry
Sun kisses are waiting for you at Inch Beach, where you can dive into crystal-clear waters, ride the crashing waves, and soak up the warm sunshine. The beach is nestled in the southeast corner of the majestic Dingle Peninsula. It is a vibrant hotspot for adrenaline junkies and relaxation enthusiasts alike. Additionally, you can find a myriad of charming villages nearby, as well as fantastic amenities, making it an absolutely incredible choice for families.
Inch Beach offers a fair amount of parking space, but beware, it transforms into a bustling hub of activity on those scorching summer days. To secure your spot, it’s wise to set your alarm clock a tad earlier. If you want to grab a bite or a drink, look no further than Sammy’s Cafe, located right on the picturesque Inch Strand.
As you stroll along the soft, golden sand at Inch Strand, you can’t help but feel a sense of pure bliss, especially with the vistas of majestic mountains that unfold before your eyes.
Keem Bay, County Mayo
Keem Bay is a stunning horseshoe-shaped bay located on Achill Island, off the coast of County Mayo, Ireland. The beach is famous for its immaculate white sand, majestic cliffs that reach great heights, and remarkably clear waters. This stunning beach is located on the Wild Atlantic Way, a 2,500-kilometre scenic drive along the west coast of Ireland.
The drive to Keem Bay is itself an adventure as it winds its way along the clifftops overlooking the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. As soon as you reach the bay, you will be instantly captivated by its dazzling beauty. The beach stretches out for a considerable distance, offering a sense of seclusion.
To add a touch of extra charm to the surroundings, plenty of quaint cottages are scattered across the landscape. The towering cliffs on both sides of the bay create a breathtaking sight, offering magnificent vistas of the picturesque countryside.
Keem Bay boasts astoundingly clear waters that call out adventurers and water enthusiasts to enjoy swimming, surfing, and kayaking. Its water is so clean; it earned the Blue Flag award for that!
This pristine bay is also teeming with a diverse array of wildlife, including beautiful seals, playful dolphins, and magnificent whales. If fortune smiles upon you, you might just catch a glimpse of the outstanding basking shark, an enormous creature that ranks as the second-largest fish on the planet. However, you don’t have to worry about safety since lifeguards are available on duty during Summer. They will ensure not to let anyone into the sea if sharks are spotted.
Keem Bay is not only known for its breathtaking scenery, but it also boasts a fascinating and significant historical background. In the past, the bay served as a location for fishing basking sharks, and remnants of this history can still be observed in the form of a few remaining old fishing huts along the shoreline. The Banshees of Inisherin, a film released in 2022, was set in the bay and featured renowned actors Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.
Dog’s Bay, County Galway
Dog’s Bay is a picturesque beach with a unique horseshoe shape boasting pristine white sand. It is situated in the charming town of Roundstone, nestled in the scenic County Galway, Ireland. The beach is widely regarded as one of the most stunning in Ireland, receiving recognition from many websites and magazines like Lonely Planet.
The beach is situated on a tombolo, which is a sandbar that connects two land masses. The tombolo is formed by the deposition of sand carried by waves and currents. The sand on Dog’s Bay is made up of tiny fragments of seashells, which gives it a pure white colour. The name ‘Dog’s Bay’ is believed to originate from the unique shape of the sandy spit that connects the rugged headland to the coastline, resembling a bone.
It’s a vast playground for those seeking the ultimate trio of aquatic delights: swimming, sunbathing, and kayaking. The location is well-known for its popularity among surfers due to the occasional presence of large waves.
The beach is embraced by majestic rolling hills and towering mountains, offering spectacular views of the enchanting countryside that stretches as far as the eye can see. During the summer, the hills are adorned with a vibrant display of wildflowers, creating a picturesque scene. Plus, deer, foxes, and badgers, among other animal species, have a variety of habitats in the highlands around the beach.
Trá Mór, County Donegal
If you happen to be in County Donegal and looking for a scenic beach, you will find plenty of awesome options, including Trá Mór—aka Tramore, which means “Big Beach” in Irish. Trá Mór lies on the Horn Head Peninsula, a quiet and breezy area in Donegal. The beach is an absolutely incredible spot for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing, with its long, sprawling coastline adorned with the finest grains of sand and its azure waters.
Furthermore, Trá Mór boasts a plethora of historical attractions, such as the remnants of an old fortress and an ancient stone formation from prehistoric times. Birdwatching is a common activity at the beach as well. There is a wide variety of bird life on Trá Mór beach, including terns, gulls, and waders. On top of that, marine life is thriving in this coast’s waters since it houses several types of aquatic animals like seals, dolphins, and whales.
The beach is often uncrowded, even during the summer season. However, it is also relatively undeveloped, with no lifeguards or amenities, which makes it more convenient for those who prefer a secluded and natural beach experience. The beach also attracts many photographers who visit to capture the stunning scenery of the beach. Additionally, it serves as a favoured destination for artists who visit to capture the scenery through their paintings and sketches.
To reach Trá Mór, you will need to drive to the village of Dunfanaghy. From there, you will need to follow the signs for Horn Head. The beach is located about 3 kilometres from the village. Walking to the beach is quite easy, but it is important to wear sturdy shoes as the path may surprise you with a touch of muddy spots along the way.
Portsalon, County Donegal
Portsalon Beach is a Blue Flag beach located on the Fanad Peninsula in County Donegal, Ireland. Vacationers like this beach because of its expansive, sandy coastline, crystal-clear waters, and jaw-dropping views of the surrounding mountains. With its mesmerising allure, this sandy paradise has earned its place among the most stunning beaches not only in Ireland but quite possibly on a global scale.
The beach is approximately 1.5 kilometres long and lies along the R268 between Rathmullan and Fanad Head. To get to the beach, you have to go through a twisting clifftop route along the side of Croaghhaun Mountain, which offers exceptional views of the beach on approach.
Portsalon Beach is the ideal playground for aquatic enthusiasts, where you can dive into the refreshing water, bask in the tanning sunshine, ride the waves, and indulge in a plethora of water-based activities.
The beach is an amazing place to unwind and appreciate the jaw-dropping splendour of the Irish countryside. The beach offers a variety of amenities, such as a convenient car park, clean and accessible toilets, and a reliable lifeguard service for guaranteed safety.
Silver Strand, County Donegal
Nestled along the coastline of County Donegal lies the enchanting Silver Strand, aka An Trá Bhán beach. This amazing beach captivates visitors with its pristine sands and crystal-clear waters, creating a picturesque haven for nature lovers and beach junkies. You can’t take an ugly picture in this place.
Imagine a paradise where the sand is as white as freshly fallen snow, the waters are so clear you can see the vibrant marine life dancing beneath the surface, and the Slieve League cliffs are creating a breathtaking backdrop.
The beach is frequently protected from strong winds, which attracts many people who enjoy swimming and sunbathing. For hiking enthusiasts, there are numerous breathtaking trails that guide you to the pinnacle of the majestic cliffs, offering unparalleled views of the enchanting Silver Strand.
Ballybunion, County Kerry
Ballybunion Beach is an absolutely breathtaking expanse of pristine golden sand nestled along the captivating Wild Atlantic Way in the enchanting County Kerry. The beach is split in half by a cliff; historically, the left side was reserved for men and the right for the ladies. Both beaches boast the prestigious Blue Flag status, a testament to their exceptional water quality and solid commitment to safety.
The cliff dividing both beaches is also the site of the remnants of Ballybunion Castle. The largest of the two beaches is the Men’s Beach—shocker, right? It is where the majority of surfers and sunbathers congregate. The Ladies’ Beach is a nice spot to unwind because it is more intimate and private than the Men’s Beach.
In addition to the two main beaches, there is also a smaller beach known as Nun’s Beach. This stunning beach is nestled at the edge of a cliff path, providing an exclusive and tranquil atmosphere that can only be reached by foot. Do you have to be a real nun to visit it? Absolutely not; however, you should note that it is not safe for swimming.
The gorgeous cliffs that overlook the beach offer an amazing walking path. As you stroll along this path, you’ll be treated to magnificent views of a multitude of wildlife and beautiful sea stacks rising from the sparkling waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The path takes about 20 minutes to walk and goes round to the “Nun’s Beach”.
On the Ladies’ Beach, you’ll find a lovely cafe where you can indulge in delicious treats and refreshing drinks. Additionally, there is a relaxing hot seaweed bath facility, perfect for unwinding and pampering yourself. To have the full beach experience, there’s also an ice cream shop that boasts a delectable array of flavours.
Inchydoney Beach, County Cork
We can’t talk about the best beaches in Ireland without mentioning the mesmerising Inchydoney Beach! This beach is the crown jewel of West Cork. It is a Blue Flag beach that has a picturesque coastline, complete with a generous serving of sandy goodness and a side of dunes and rolling hills. It’s like Mother Nature decided to show off her artistic skills in this little corner of the world.
The sun, sand, and surf come together in perfect harmony on this beach. It’s the ultimate hotspot for those seeking a splash of adventure, a sprinkle of relaxation, and a dash of vitamin D.
The Virgin Mary cliff provides a natural divider between the beach’s two halves. Inchydoney East refers to the northern section of the beach, whereas Inchydoney West refers to the southern section. When comparing the two beaches, Inchydoney East is the clear winner due to its larger size and higher-quality amenities. If you’re looking for a more tranquil day at the beach, head to Inchydoney West, where it’s a little less crowded and more secluded.
Not only are there two main beaches, but the Inchydoney coastline is also adorned with a plethora of charming smaller coves and beaches. One of the most captivating destinations to explore is Inchydoney Island, a wonderful gem seamlessly connected to the mainland by a causeway. Visitors come from all around to enjoy bird watching and exploring the wildlife on this island.
What’s really exciting about Inchydoney Beach is that fun comes in many forms. The Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, the Clonakilty Heritage Centre, and the Clonakilty Golf Club are just some of the exciting places to visit in the surrounding area.
Killiney Beach, County Dublin
Killiney Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Ireland for good reasons. This beach is widely renowned for its exceptional opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and leisurely strolls. Moreover, it boasts an array of intriguing features, such as a fascinating cave, Martello tower, and a cliff walk.
This beach is undeniably a captivating part of Killiney Bay, renowned for its tranquil waters and scenic surroundings. It has long been a popular destination among sailors and windsurfers, who are drawn to its sheltered bay and ideal conditions for their exhilarating activities.
The beach itself boasts a beautiful combination of small stones and gravel, creating a unique ambience. Moreover, it is complemented by an exquisite high cliff that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding area.
The cave at the northern end of Killiney Beach is an absolutely fascinating feature that you won’t want to miss. The cave is famously referred to as the Mermaid’s Cove, where the legend says a captivating mermaid used to reside, enticing sailors with her irresistible allure, ultimately leading them to an unfortunate fate.
One of the most captivating aspects of Killiney Beach is undoubtedly the remarkable Martello Tower situated at the southern tip of the beach. The tower, constructed in the early 19th century, stands as a formidable testament to the strategic foresight of its architects, who envisioned it as a crucial defence against the potential invasion of Ireland by Napoleon.
Curracloe Beach, County Wexford
When looking for the best beaches in Ireland, you can’t miss Curracloe Beach. Nestled just a stone’s throw away from the charming Curracloe Village lies this mesmerising beach adorned with velvety soft sand. This coastal gem is a haven for both sun-worshippers seeking the perfect tan and nature enthusiasts yearning for a tranquil escape.
Curracloe Beach was featured in the opening scenes of the 1998 war film Saving Private Ryan. The filmmakers chose this beach for its resemblance to Omaha Beach, where the D-Day landings took place.
Aside from its natural beauty, Curracloe Beach is also home to a number of bird species, including terns, seagulls, and curlews. It is also a popular spot for seals and dolphins. There are also plenty of exciting activities to do here. Whether you’re in the mood for a relaxing fishing trip, building a sand castle with the kids, or an adventurous exploration of the magnificent dunes, you’ll find something to keep everyone entertained.
10 Best Beaches In Northern Ireland
There are many beaches in Northern Ireland that are as equally as impressive as those in the South. Check out some of our favourite locations and be sure to check out the tranquillity and awe-inspiring nature of them.
Portstewart Strand, County Derry/Londonderry
Whiterocks Beach, County Antrim
Whiterocks Beach is another stunning beach located on the north coast of Northern Ireland, near the town of Portrush. Like Portstewart Strand, Whiterocks is part of the Causeway Coast, a region known for its breathtaking natural beauty and impressive coastline.
The beach gets its name from the white limestone cliffs and rock formations that overlook the sandy shore. These cliffs, along with the nearby sea stacks and caves, create a dramatic and picturesque landscape that attracts photographers and nature lovers.
Whiterocks Beach features a wide stretch of golden sands, making it an ideal place for sunbathing, beach games, and simple leisurely time. The area surrounding Whiterocks Beach also offers excellent coastal walks and hikes. Visitors can explore the cliffs and take in the stunning views of the North Atlantic Ocean. One popular trail is the Causeway Coast Way, which passes through Whiterocks Beach and connects to other notable attractions in the region.
With its striking rock formations, sandy shores, and natural beauty, Whiterocks Beach is a must-visit destination for those exploring the scenic Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland. Whether you want to relax on the beach, take in the coastal scenery, or engage in water sports, Whiterocks offers a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.
Murlough National Nature Reserve, County Down
Murlough National Nature Reserve is a hidden gem nestled along the rugged coast of Northern Ireland. The reserve’s extensive network of sand dunes stretches as far as the eye can see, resembling a natural fortress that safeguards the delicate ecosystems within.
Murlough National Nature Reserve boasts an excellent network of well-maintained trails catering to various levels of fitness and interests. Whether you prefer leisurely strolls or challenging hikes, there’s a path for everyone. The “Dune Trail” takes you on a mesmerizing journey through the heart of the dunes, while the “Shore Trail” grants access to the mesmerizing seashore and its marine treasures.
Nature enthusiasts and botanists will also be enthralled by the stunning floral display that Murlough offers. The dunes host a vibrant tapestry of wildflowers, each blooming in its season. From the striking purple of the heather to the delicate hues of orchids, this reserve is a living canvas that changes its colours throughout the year.
Ballycastle Beach, County Antrim
Nestled in the charming seaside town of Ballycastle, Ballycastle Beach is a haven for locals and tourists alike. it boasts a wide expanse of golden sands that stretches for nearly a mile, providing ample space for beachgoers to unwind, sunbathe, or take part in recreational activities.
The soft sand invites barefoot walks along the shore, offering a perfect opportunity to feel the connection between land and sea. One of the highlights of the beach is its fascinating rock formations that emerge at low tide, revealing a hidden world of marine life. Children and adults alike will delight in searching for tiny crabs, colourful seashells, and other marine treasures that adorn the rocky pools.
As you gaze out to sea from Ballycastle Beach, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas of two remarkable landmarks. Rathlin Island, Ireland’s only inhabited offshore island, stands majestically on the horizon, offering a sense of intrigue and adventure for those who wish to explore its rugged beauty.
On the other side, the dramatic cliffs of Fairhead loom large, casting a shadow over the ocean. The sight of these towering basalt cliffs is awe-inspiring and a reminder of the geological wonders that grace this coastline.
Tyrella Beach, County Down
Tyrella Beach boasts an expansive sandy shore that is encapsulated by surrounding dunes and wildlife, promising an idyllic retreat for all who visit.
With its gently sloping shoreline, this beach offers safe and shallow waters, making it an ideal destination for families with children. The soft sands invite you to stroll along the water’s edge, and the cool ocean breeze convinces you to remove your shoes and ground with the sand.
One of the remarkable aspects of Tyrella Beach is its unspoiled and secluded nature. Unlike some of the more touristy beaches, Tyrella maintains a sense of tranquillity, allowing visitors to bask in the peacefulness of their surroundings.
Tyrella Beach also caters to a wide range of interests and recreational activities. For adventurous souls, horse riding along the shore or through the dunes offers a thrilling experience with a stunning coastal backdrop. The beach is also a popular spot for water sports enthusiasts, who can engage in activities like windsurfing or kite flying on windy days.
Crawfordsburn Beach, County Down
Crawfordsburn Beach is a coastal paradise nestled along the shores of County Down. From its tranquil cove to the surrounding woodlands and wildlife, this beach promises a delightful escape for all who venture.
The beach’s sheltered location between rocky outcrops provides a sense of seclusion, making it an ideal spot for those seeking a peaceful retreat. It is a perfect spot for beachcombing, building sandcastles, or simply stretching out and basking in the sun. The crystal-clear waters also remain relatively calm, making it a sound place for paddling and swimming, especially during the warmer months.
Beyond the beach, Crawfordsburn offers a network of coastal walks and woodland trails that meander through the surrounding Crawfordsburn Country Park. Nature enthusiasts and hikers will be delighted by the scenic beauty of the woodlands, which are filled with native trees, wildflowers, and abundant wildlife. Keep an eye out for red squirrels, butterflies, and various bird species that call this park home.
Follow the meandering path from the beach, and you’ll be rewarded with the sight and sound of the cascading waterfall. It’s a magical spot and a perfect opportunity to connect with nature in its purest form.
Whitepark Bay, County Antrim
Whitepark Bay is a stunning and picturesque beach located on the North Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland. It is situated between the towns of Ballintoy and Portbradden, near the famous Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, making it an area of outstanding natural beauty.
The surrounding cliffs and headlands provide a dramatic backdrop, making it a popular spot for photographers and nature enthusiasts. The bay and its surroundings also hold historical significance, with archaeological remains dating back to the Mesolithic period.
There are various walking trails that allow visitors to explore the cliffs and the surrounding countryside. The Whitepark Bay to Ballintoy trail is a popular route, offering stunning views of the magnificent coastline. A visit here provides a fantastic opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast.
Benone Strand, County Derry/Londonderry
Benone Strand is a beautiful and popular beach located on the northern coast of Northern Ireland, near the town of Limavady. It is one of the most extensive and stunning beaches in the region, offering visitors a vast expanse of sandy shores to explore and enjoy.
Benone Strand has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag status, which signifies its high water quality, safety standards, environmental management, and visitor amenities, making it an ideal location for recreational activities.
The beach’s location on the Atlantic coast also makes it an ideal spot for various watersports, such as surfing, bodyboarding, and sea kayaking. During the summer months, the beach is patrolled by lifeguards, providing an added level of safety for swimmers and beachgoers.
Benone Strand is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and the surrounding dunes and grasslands are home to various plant and animal species. It offers a perfect combination of natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and family-friendly amenities, making it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the Northern Irish coastline.
Portrush East Strand, County Antrim
Portrush East Strand is a picturesque beach located in the seaside town of Portrush. It boasts a beautiful sandy beach with fine golden sand and it is relatively wide, providing ample space for beachgoers to relax, play beach games, and take leisurely walks along the shore.
You’ll also be glad to hear that the calm waters and gentle waves make it suitable for paddling and swimming, whilst appreciating the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the rugged coastline that characterise the area.
The beach is also within walking distance of the town of Portrush, which means visitors can easily access a range of shops, restaurants, cafes, and accommodations. Portrush is a vibrant seaside resort town and a delightful destination for anyone looking to enjoy the natural beauty and seaside atmosphere of Northern Ireland’s coastline.
West Strand Beach, County Antrim
West Strand Beach is another popular and beautiful beach located in the town of Portrush and much like its counterpart, East Strand, it attracts numerous visitors throughout the year for its idyllic setting and soft, golden sands.
The beach’s location on the North Atlantic coast makes it an excellent spot for water sports enthusiasts. Surfing, bodyboarding, and kayaking are popular activities here, especially when conditions are favourable.
From West Strand Beach, you can enjoy beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean and its crashing waves. The beach is part of the Causeway Coast Way, a scenic walking route that follows the stunning coastline of Northern Ireland. Walking along West Strand allows you to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and soak up the awe-inspiring surroundings.
Explore more across Ireland and Northern Ireland
Beaches in Ireland are known for their stunning beauty and rugged charm. From the famous golden sands of Inchydoney in County Cork to the dramatic cliffs of Slieve League in County Donegal, Ireland offers a diverse range of coastal landscapes that you have to explore at least once in a lifetime.
If you happen to be exploring one of these beaches listed above, be sure to check out the following articles for more things to do in the surrounding area:
Things to do in Waterford | Things to do in Cork | Things to do in Limerick | Things to do in Wexford | Things to do in Kilkenny | Things to do in Carlow | Things to do in Kerry | Things to do in Tipperary | Things to doing Clare | Things to do in Laois | Things to do in Wicklow | Things to do in Kildare | Things to do in Offaly | Things to do in Galway | Things to do in Westmeath | Things to do in Meath | Things to do in Longford | Things to do in Roscommon | Things to do in Mayo | Things to do in Monaghan | Things to do in Cavan | Things to do in Louth | Things to do in Leitrim | Things to do in Sligo.