The Beaches of Ireland
Many of Ireland’s best beaches are well off the beaten path and don’t have nearby villages or towns full of amenities. The beauty of this is that these Irish beaches are absolutely magnificent and you don’t have to share them with anyone. There are many beautiful beaches in Ireland and you can easily find a beach that fits your personality.
Ireland is also famous for its surfing beaches, glorious rock formations, crashing waves and waterfalls that plunge to the ocean. There are areas where you can rock climb above the ocean, hang off the edge of cliffs, dive into the clearest blue Atlantic waters and surf phenomenal waves. Ireland has some of the best beaches in the world.
Top Ireland Beaches
Best beaches near Dublin
There are many fine beaches near Dublin but they sometimes tend to be just a beach with limited facilities. Some Irish beaches are rugged and wild and some are golden sandy beaches these are the best beaches near Dublin of all kinds.
Portmarnock is the only beach in Dublin to make Trip Advisors Top 10. It has a phenomenal 5-mile long beach with one of the best golf clubs in Ireland nearby. It’s north of Dublin and tends to be packed out when the summer hits. Portmarnock is named the velvet strand because of its glorious soft sandy beach. There’s plenty to do in the area as well and this is one of the most popular public beaches near the city.
Portmarnock celebrates its history as an aeronautical hub with a huge sculpture of the globe, which has a copper needle through the centre of it that points to the North Star. The sculpture can be seen beside Portmarnock Strand and it’s called Eccentric Orbit.
Apparently, you can also get some of the best pizza in Dublin at Portmarnock’s Brezzi Woodfired Pizza.
This secluded seaside village is south of Dublin and is home to a Martello Tower. These towers were used during wartime to keep an eye out for potential invaders.
In Sandycove, the Martello Tower is famous for being the place where James Joyce once stayed and he used the Tower in the opening scene of Ulysses.
Sandycove is also famous for being the Christmas dip at nearby Forty Foot. It’s a lovely shallow beach for kids with beautiful views.
Sandycove is a foodie haven with fabulous restaurants and coffee shops in the Village. There’s a pretty cool giant bronze sea urchin statue on the beach and the place abounds with great buskers. You can grab a pint at any of the nearby pubs or hit up Ireland’s best Indian restaurant for a gorgeous curry.
Dollymount Strand Beach
Dollymount Strand on Dublin’s north side stretches right across the bay and is immensely popular in summer months. This is one of the best Irish beaches around Dublin. A super popular spot with surfers and stand up paddleboarders the place bustles with visitors in the summer months and there are plenty of bars, pubs. and great restaurants.
Dollymount beach is a long stretch (5km) of golden sand with views to Howth in the north and the Wicklow Hills and Sugar Loaf to the south.
Killiney is home to many celebrities including Bono and the gorgeous beach here is a Blue Flag one. The beach is a long stony stretch with fabulous views of Bray Head, Sugar Loaf and Dalkey Island. At the far end of the bay, is White Rock, which provides an isolated getaway for those, want some peace from the crowds.
Best beaches on the Islands of Ireland
Achill Island, Keem Bay Beach
Achill Island was supposed to be the island where I did a lot of high octane water-based activities, but as soon as I drove into the area it felt more like an area to relax, go on walks, and interact with the locals.
The weather was not on my side, but the dark clouds overcasting Achill Island made for a hauntingly beautiful experience. Keem Bay lauded as the most beautiful beach in Ireland, took up the entirety of one of my days in Achill.
While the water was way too choppy and cold to get into when I visited, having a little picnic while watching the constant flow of waves wash over the sand was enough. I also found the time to read chapters on my kindle and the background sound of the crashing waves made it difficult for me to pack up and head off to reality.
For those that want to visit, the drive to Keem Bay is magnificent in its own rights. I found myself parking off the side of the road to take in the view of the beach from atop the driving path. I wish I had a drone back then to capture it properly. written by Zeegoes
Kilmurvey Beach, Galway
Inis Mor Galway, Kilmurvey is a beautiful white sand sheltered beach just off the road between Kilronan and Dun Aengus. The beaches are within a cove and are perfect for families and young children. The glistening waves are gentle, crystal clear and have no strong currents.
Inis Oirr/Inisheer Beaches, Galway
This island has two beaches, which are Green Coast awarded. They are called An Trá and Trá Poll na gCaorach both are beautiful bleached white sand strands. Very popular for swimming, water sports or just hanging out by the sea.
Inis Oirr is fortunate to have a stunning beach located adjacent to the pier and on the edge of the main village. Largely uncrowned its clean sandy beach and clear, blue and unspoiled water, which is sheltered and safe is a great place for swimming.
Dernish Island, Sligo
Many a visitor to Ireland has a dream of riding a beautiful Irish horse on a deserted beach. Here in Sligo your dream can come true. There are numerous horse riding tours on the beautiful Irish beaches of Sligo. Drive down the motorway and chances are you will see a few you can stop at and arrange a ride.
Sligo does have some outstanding Irish beaches and I consider it one of the best secret beaches on the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s silver sand beach is perfect for swimming, fishing and wild camping.
Dernish is one of the Irish beaches you have been dreaming about. You get to cross an Atlantic channel on horseback to Dernish Island and explore the island’s ancient sites, check out the young herds of horses and cattle and simply enjoy your trek
Trá Bán, Great Blasket Island, Kerry
An uninhabited island since 1953 the Blasket Islands are on the north side of Dingle Bay. Trá Bán is Gaelic for the white beach and it’s a polar sunbathing spot for the seals. You may even get a glimpse of Fungie Galway Bay’s most popular dolphin resident. Ferries to the island run from spring to autumn.
Mweenish Island Beach, Galway
This is like having your own private island. Most folks leave Mweenish on the 5 o’clock ferry and the population of the island is only 140 so the coastline and views are virtually unspoiled. A great spot for fishing or watching the sun go down over the Atlantic Mweenish is pretty impressive but you won’t find much in the way of amenities here.
Coney Island, Sligo
Fourteen pillars guide your way out to Coney Island, Co Sligo, at low tide. Connected to the mainland via a causeway, this isle is accessible by shank’s mare (walking), car or on horseback – the most exciting way to arrive and something you can do as part of a week-long riding holiday through Ireland on Horseback. You gallop out and are back before the tide turns.
On your trip to Coney Island be aware of the tide times, as the bay empties and fills two times a day and it can take you unawares. There have been many stories down the years of motorists who had cars stuck in the tide or people who had to stay out on the island because they hadn’t taken into account of the tide times.
Best Beaches Ireland – Sligo
The seaside village of Strandhill, Sligo really has it all. The beach isn’t safe for swimming due to the strong currents but it has great breaks for surfers and there are several surf schools in the area. It is considered one of the best surfing beaches in the world. Its great breaks attract attention from surfers every year and Strandhill is the perfect places to learn how to surf and perfect your technique. It is also a fantastic place to go sea kayaking and stand up Paddle Boarding.
Rosses Point Beach
Beneath the heights of Benbulben Mountain and the Dartry range, one of the highlights of Sligo County has to be Rosses Point, a prominent destination on the Wild Atlantic Way, with blue flag beaches and scenic coastal walks.
This is also ‘Yeats Country’, named after W. B. Yeats the renowned Irish poet and literary genius of the 20th-century, who would spend summer holidays by Rosses Point Beach (Elsinore House), where the local scenery is said to have inspired many of his (and his brother Jack Butler Yeats’) works. And many references to the poet are found along this shoreline, including The Yeats Country Hotel and Spa.
Otherwise, one of the more standout features next to Rosses Point Beach would be the ‘Waiting on Shore Monument’, a bronze lady statue with outstretched arms, who symbolizes the memory of those lost lives at sea. Written by Allan of It’s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor
I recently had a chance to visit the wonderful county of Sligo in western Ireland and I was blown away at all that existed for travellers there. But not many things impressed me as much as hanging around the beautiful beaches and golf courses at Enniscrone.
The beach is massive and the tides are extreme and it leaves for a picturesque view any time of the day, especially if you manage to catch one of its colourful sunsets! Visitors to Enniscrone can go surfing, golfing, relaxing, or even take a seaweed bath right at the beach.
There are many things to do in Sligo, but I highly suggest taking a day to relax and enjoy the beautiful beaches in and around Enniscrone. Written by Megan Starr of Megan Starr
Best Beaches Ireland – Donegal
Murder Hole Beach
Murder Hole Beach in Co. Donegal is an absolute hidden gem along the Wild Atlantic Way. It is one of the most rugged and remote beaches in Ireland but its beauty more than rewards the effort of getting to the secluded beach – it is accessed from the nearby town of Melmore and visitors must hike across local farmland and descend some hills and dunes to get to the beach.
Officially known as Boyeeghter Bay, the beach at Murder Hole is dotted with small caves and surrounded by stunning cliffs. When the tide is out the bay splits into two beaches and the smooth sands and deep green crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean are mesmerizing. No one is really sure how it came to be known as Murder Hole Beach but most agree that it’s due to the extreme conditions and powerful waves that are often experienced along the coast. Written by Elaine & David of Show Them The Globe
Just outside Ardara are the Maghera Caves and the gorgeous waterfall Eas a’ Rance (Assaranca). The road is quite a long way in but keeps going and eventually, you will spot the waterfall.
Around a kilometre from the falls is the Maghera Caves, which are underneath the Slievefooey Mountain. The caves are accessible from the beach at low tide but you have to be very careful of the tides, as they have trapped several people.
There is a car park and the caves are a short 400-meter walk from the parking lot.
Old stories tell of a time when there was a massacre in these caves as local people hid from Cromwell’s troupes, but the truth is they never came this far North and it is more likely the story dates back to Viking times.
Fintra is a sheltered sandy beach that does get a lot of tourists during the summer months and is also enjoyed by the local community.
Fintra beach is a beautiful sandy beach a couple of kilometres outside of Killybegs. There is a pretty steep road down to the beach but the views from here are incredible. You can see as far as Sligo with the remarkable Benbulben Mountain from the top of the hill.
Tullan Strand and Bundoran
Bundoran is a lovely little Irish seaside village to spend some quality time in. From the Wishing Chair and Fairy Bridges at Tullan Strand to surfing on the magnificent waves, Bundoran is the perfect beach experience.
Best Beaches Ireland – Kerry
While travelling for 5 months in our 5-berth motorhome, we made our way to Ireland. We decided to start north and drive the full outer circle around the emerald island! We were fortunate to find many beautiful places to park our home on wheels overnight. None was as beautiful and scenic as Derrynane Beach, part of the Ring of Kerry, and located in Derrynane Bay.
It’s a bit tight to squeeze through the national woods but we made it
through the tunnelled forest to see the sand dunes and blue sea open up before us! There were other campers here, in motor homes, vans, and tents. The water was chilly but many kids were screaming with delight as they splashed around! Campers were enjoying beach bonfires and beer while the small beach pub played tunes worthy of pirates everywhere!
This is a great place to unwind and unplug since you don’t have any signal! Written by Maegan of the WanderlustDietician
Ireland is one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe. It is rich in culture, beauty, fantastic sites and quaint towns in the country and on the sea. My favourite Irish seaside town is Dingle, perched on the Dingle Peninsula in Southwest Ireland (County Kerry.)
Dingle is a wonderful place to stay on any Irish vacation. I love the quaint downtown, which is full of fantastic restaurants (don’t miss Murphy’s Ice Cream shop!) and cute shops. There is a resident dolphin, Fungi, who has lived in the bay, entertaining tourists for years. It is so pleasant to walk along Dingle’s waterfront to one of the many great bed & breakfasts in town.
Every direction that you look, there’s a beautiful view either out to the sea and the Blasket Islands or to the green countryside dotted with grazing white sheep. The pace is slow which makes it feel relaxed. The best thing about Dingle is the friendly locals. Make sure to visit a local pub for a “pint Guinness” for a real taste of the culture. Taking a tour (don’t attempt to drive on this road) around the Dingle Peninsula is a must- the sites and views are remarkable. It’s no wonder why Dingle is many people’s favourite Irish seaside town.
The Slea Head Drive is an epic road trip where you will see Dingle, beehive huts, gorgeous beaches and views that will take your breath away. Jeremy and Kate of Our Escape Clause have written the best guide to this drive that I’ve read their Slea Head Drive: The Ultimate Guide to Dingle Peninsula’s Epic Road Trip is a must-read. Written by Whitney of GoFam Travel, a Family Travel Blog
Best Beaches Ireland – Galway
Dog’s Bay Beach
If you’re looking for beautiful white sand, turquoise blue water, and a distinct lack of tourist crowds while searching for the perfect Irish beach, then you can’t go wrong with Dog’s Bay.
Located in the wild Connemara region in County Galway, just a few kilometres outside of the fishing village of Roundstone, Dog’s Bay beach is one of the best-hidden gems in this already under-visited corner of Ireland. It is easiest to reach this beach by car, where parking is free (which is great if you’re visiting Ireland on a budget!) and it is only a short walk to the beach.
Despite the fact that it is one of the most beautiful beaches in the entirety of the Emerald Isle, it is more frequented by locals and it is entirely possible that you have the entire stretch of sand all to yourself — especially if you are travelling outside of peak season.
Dog’s Bay is also located just off the main road en route to the biggest town in Connemara, Clifden, so it is a great stop if you’re planning on driving the famous Sky Road in the same day.
All in all, if you’re looking for the best beach in Ireland, Dog’s Bay beach might very well be it. Written by Maggie Turansky of TheWorldWasHereFirst
Best Beaches – Cork
Barleycove Beach, Schull
Barleycove is a large beach backed by sand dunes. These days the dunes are partially eroded but are protected land with the European Designated Special Areas of Conservation.
It is a very remote beach that is accessed by a floating bridge to the car park. Very safe for swimming there is a lifeguard during the summer months.
Banna Strand Beach, Tralee
Banna Beach is 7 miles North West of Tralee. A perfect beach for children it stretches for miles with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains. This is a walker’s paradise with amazing views to Kerry and Dingle and out to sea where Mucklaghmore Rock lies. The sand dunes are a designated conservation area with rare plants and animals. It’s is a popular surfing spot with surfing lessons and summer camps.
The picturesque village of Ardfert is nearby and you can visit the Ardfert Cathedral and Friary. Lot’s to do with many restaurants and coffee shops plus of course great Irish ice-cream.
Best Beaches Ireland – Wicklow
This beautiful beach is actually split into two parts, north and south. Both are incredibly popular with sun-seekers on the eastern seaboard, with sand dunes stretching over 100 hectares. With its 5km of white sandy beach and its designation as a proposed Special Area of Conservation (SAC). It is an area of ecological importance and habitats of interest include sand dunes, ferns and grassland areas.
There is so much to choose from when looking for a beach in Ireland. From the magnificent Wild Atlantic Way beaches to the beaches on the Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland. You will absolutely be spoiled for choice.
What’s your favourite Irish beach?