by Josh Davies
With white sand, surfing and crystal clear water, Ireland has some of the most picturesque beaches in the world. If you aren’t sure where to start, we have put together a list of 12 of the best beaches in Ireland. So pack your towel, sun cream and snorkel and relax on one of these remarkable beaches.
Being known for its Guinness, thriving cities and friendly atmosphere, the selection of stunning beaches is often overlooked. The coastline boasts over 1,450 kilometres of picturesque scenery and family-friendly beaches. Whether you are looking to ride the waves or soak in the sun, Ireland has hundreds of beaches for you.
Carry on reading to find out more about 12 of the best beaches in Ireland…
The Blue Flag Award is a global certification that means the bathing water must be an excellent standard. To maintain standards, the awards undergo assessment each year. It also aims to promote safety and environmental education.
Surfing has become a popular sport over the years. It is a great way to explore the ocean and some hidden away beaches. Many beaches in Ireland offer a chance of surfing for beginners, intermediates and experienced surfers. What’s better is that many of these beaches offer surfing lessons, equipment hire and an opportunity to meet other keen surfers.
If you love sport and want to explore the Irish coastline in unique ways, see our guide to some of the best golfing locations in Ireland.
Inchydoney is a quiet island located in West Cork. The clean beach is a long stretch of golden sand that backs onto the dunes behind. Part of the Wild Atlantic Way, Inchydoney has a range of beach walks and stunning views from the cliffs above.
Whether you are a beginner or intermediate, the clean waves are manageable by surfers of all abilities. If you are a newbie to surfing, there are several schools available teaching you how to surf safely. You may also consider bodyboarding if surfing isn’t your cup of tea.
Throughout the summer months, there is usually a lifeguard on duty at Inchydoney beach. You can keep yourself refreshed with a variety of coffee and snacks from the local food trucks. Plus, if you are looking to sit down for lunch with the family, the Inchydoney Hotel is a stone throw away.
Known as the surf capital of Ireland, Bundoran in County Donegal is a must-visit spot for surfers of all abilities. There are many beaches located along the bay, with Tullen Strand being the most consistent surf spot. When you arrive at Tullan strand, there are some informational signs and guides to help you remain safe whilst swimming and surfing.
The Tullan strand is a beautiful stretch of coastline that offers golden sand, grassy dunes and great waves for the surfers among us. On a warm summer evening, the picture-perfect sunset will give you a scenic hideaway from the busy towns.
Parking at Tullan strand can be limited, so be sure to arrive early to secure your spot.
Although Easkey is not exactly a beach, the area has become renowned over recent years as a great surfing spot. After hosting the 1979 Pro/Am Surfing World Championships, Easkey has become a haven for only the most experienced surfing enthusiasts.
Speak to locals and find out the best information on how to surf the impressive reef breaks, the dark rock formations and the crashing waves make this one of the most stunning surf destinations in Ireland.
If you are in the area and want to try your hand at surfing, several local beaches offer beginner surfing lessons to get you started. The Beach Bar Surf School takes place on Aughris beach offers kids, beginner, intermediate and private lessons.
In the summer, you may mistake some of the best beaches in Ireland for an Australian paradise. The warm sun, shining down on the white sand with surfers, families and crystal clear waters in the background.
Grab your towel and take yourself on a short journey to one of these stunning beaches in Ireland.
With Gurteen Bay backing on to it, Dogs Bay is perfect for sunbathing, swimming and relaxing. The beautiful white sandy beaches are made of tiny seashell fragments that have eroded over thousands of years.
In recent years the local authorities have been focusing on the regeneration of Marram grass in the area. The white sand, clear blue water and stunning location make Dogs bay one of the best beaches in Ireland for sunbathing.
Take a book and feel the gentle breeze as you make the most of Galway and the stunning west coast of Ireland.
Located on Achill Island, Keem beach is a hideaway with a taste of paradise. As you approach, rolling green hills greet you dropping down into a picturesque blue bay hidden away. Keem bay may not be as big as some of the other beaches on this list, but it sure packs a punch with the surrounding scenery.
You may even come across a family of basking sharks on your visit. They visit Keem bay as part of their yearly migration route, searching for warmer waters and rich plankton patches. If you manage to sight one of these magnificent beasts, be sure to keep your distance and enjoy the sights of the second largest species of shark.
Our dogs are an integral part of the family. With staycations becoming more popular, dog-friendly tourism is a vital part of choosing the best holiday destinations. In Ireland, there are several restrictions in places at beaches. Some allow dogs all year round, while others only allow them between specific dates of the year.
Before visiting any beaches with your dog, be sure to check the restrictions in place on that day.
Located along the Inishowen Peninsula, Stroove is a small beach that allows dogs on leashes throughout the year. Once you have taken your dog for a walk along the beach, you could go for a more adventurous stroll through the surrounding North Inishowen Natural Heritage Area.
After a long day of running around with your dogs, rest your legs in one of the local cafes. There are toilet facilities, cafes and pubs within walking distance of the beach.
Unlike Stroove, Murlough beach is a five-mile expanse below the beautiful Mourne mountains. The beach has no restrictions and is ideal for dogs to run free along the sandy coast. To access the beach, take a short walk through the Murlough National Nature Reserve. Dogs need to be on a leash through the reserve. But once on the beach, there are no restrictions.
This beach is one of the best choices if you have an energetic dog that needs lots of space to run and explore. Be sure to keep a lookout for the local wildlife such as badgers, seals and dolphins.
Getting your family to the beach can be an exciting adventure for everyone involved. Family-friendly beaches are a safe way of exploring rock pools, the sea and building the most terrific sand castles Ireland has ever seen. Grab your picnic, sun cream and towels and take the whole family for an adventure to one of these Irish beaches.
Banna Strand is a beautiful beach that stretches along the County Kerry coastline. The beach is an ideal location for walkers, families, surfing and spotting local wildlife. The beach also has a slipway onto the beach to allow easy access for disabled visitors.
If any of your family are looking to ride the waves at Banna Strand, the local surf school is a great place to start.
Whether you want to take the family on an adventure through the dunes or take them paddling in the shallows, Banna strand is an ideal beach with lots of family-friendly activities.
With a stunning range of white sand dunes, Brittas Bay is a Blue Flag beach perfect for the whole family. The site has public toilets and a car park for easy access. Plus, from June to September, the beach has lifeguards on patrol throughout the day.
With many Dubliners travelling down on the weekend to make the most of Brittas Bay, the beach can become a hot spot for tourism. You can sit on the beach and enjoy the weather or take a stroll along some of the dune paths in the Special Area of Conservation. The surrounding landscape and beach are why Brittas Bay is on our list of best beaches in Ireland.
Beaches can often become popular and overcrowded. However, if you are looking to hide away and spend your time peacefully breathing in the sea air, these three beaches in Ireland are a must-stop destination.
With stunning views at sunrise and sunset, the Silver Strand is a small horseshoe-shaped beach surrounded by cliffs. Parking is limited at Silver Strand, so if you manage to get a space, you are one of the lucky few that get to explore this County Mayo beach.
Throughout the summer, the beach can be busy. Yet, outside of the peak summer months, Silver Strand rarely fills up and offers a beautiful sunset view all year round.
Unfortunately, the beach is not yet wheelchair accessible as there are 174 steps down to the beach. You will also need to take care when swimming in the crystal clear waters at this Irish beach as there are no lifeguards on duty.
Although it sounds like something out of a horror movie, Murder hole is a unique landscape that is one of the best beaches in Ireland. The stunning landscape and golden beaches make Murder Hole a perfect hideaway for those looking to get away from the busy beaches.
The beach is near Melmore in County Donegal. Unfortunately, there is no parking nearby. Be sure to check tide times before visiting the beach as the beach is inaccessible at high tide, and swimming is not allowed due to the unpredictable currents.
Even though there are several considerations before visiting Murder Hole, it is one of the most spectacular destinations in Ireland. The jagged cliffs, crashing waves and golden sand make it seem like you are stepping onto a hidden island.
With stunning photo opportunities and impressive dunes, Five Finger strand is one of County Donegal’s most famous beaches. The expansive beach is perfect for the whole family, with rock pools, walks and stunning views of the North of Ireland.
From the Wild Alpaca Way above, you can look down over the strand and see the beach with Doagh Famine Village across the water.
The beach is an ideal spot for hiking, bird-watching and fishing. But, swimming is not recommended due to the dangerous rip tides.
Ireland has some of the most stunning beaches on the planet. The unique coastline offers a range of possibilities for surfers, sunbathers, families and dogs. So if you want to make the most of Ireland’s picturesque coast, you can find several ideal cottages on the coast of Ireland.
Image Credits: Tony Hall – (CC BY 2.0); Robin Drayton – (CC BY-SA 2.0); Ross – (CC BY-SA 2.0); Martapiqs – (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0); Gareth James – (CC BY-SA 2.0); Michael Clarke – (CC BY-SA 2.0); Patrick Mackie – (CC BY-SA 2.0); Nick / – (CC BY 2.0); Dennis Moynihan – (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0); Jo Turner – (CC BY-SA 2.0); Kenneth Allen – (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Hi, I'm Josh. I recently joined the Sykes team and love all things travel.
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