7 of the best beaches in Ireland

With over 3,000 km of coastline, Ireland is home to some of the most stunning beaches. From secluded bathers’ coves to stretches of exposed shoreline, there’s something here for every beach-goer. Here are my seven favourite beaches on the Emerald Isle.

Bundoran, Donegal, Ireland

1. Bundoran, Co. Donegal
This is one for the surfers. It’s the preferred destination for international and Irish surfers alike and it was the location for the European Championship in 2011. The Peak, one of Ireland’s most well-known waves, breaks over an offshore reef, enticing expert surfers from all over the world. Meanwhile, the main beach area accommodates the less experienced surfer. But Bundoran isn’t just for surfers – swimmers and sun worshipers are equally welcome, and it also hosts Sea Sessions music festival each June. 2020’s festival was obviously cancelled, but tickets are on sale for 2021!

Keem beach, Achill Island, Ireland

2. Keem Beach, Co. Mayo
This beach is only accessible by a small road that winds over the mountain, keeping this beach hidden from view until you’re right over it. Formerly a basking shark fishery, the sheltered strand on the scenic Wild Atlantic Way has more to offer than just the amazing view. It also boasts crystal clear waters, ideal for scuba divers and snorkelling enthusiasts making it one of the best beaches in the country.

Whiterocks Beach Portrush

3. Whiterocks Beach, Portrush, Co. Antrim
Honey-coloured dunes, vast stretches of sand and views of County Antrim’s 13th century Dunluce Castle make Whiterocks spectacular. This scenic spot has a crowning glory: chalky-white limestone cliffs that have been carved by the North Atlantic into something remarkable. This huge beach offers endless opportunities to walk, stroll and explore the little coves (only at low-tide). If you’re after something more active, then give surfing or stand-up paddleboarding a try. Full-disclosure, this is my hometown so I may be biased, but I truly consider it to be one of the best beaches in Ireland! If you are thinking of planning a visit, there are lots of other places to include in your itinerary that’ll help you get off the beaten track in Ireland.

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Haven Coast, Inchydoney Beach, Clonakilty, Co. Cork

4. Inchydoney Beach, Co. Cork
Serene and vast, this spectacular beach outside Clonakilty in West Cork has been ranked at the top of the ‘best beaches in Ireland’ list by TripAdvisor users three times in their coveted Travellers’ Choice Awards. Expect smooth golden sands, pristine waters and perfect surfing conditions.

Looking from the top of Killiney Hill towards the coastal area around Dublin Bay in Dublin, Ireland

5. Killiney Beach, Co. Dublin
What Killiney Beach lacks in sandiness (it’s normally quite pebbly), it more than makes up for in proximity to the capital city. This south Dublin strand is just a short train journey from the city centre but you’ll feel like you’re a world away. You can swim in the bay, but I think the best way to spend a day here is to walk up Killiney Hill and soak up the views. At its peak, you can take in Bray Head in the distance as well as the Wicklow Mountains. It’s even possible to see as far as Wales on a clear day.

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Valentia Island, Ring of Kerry region, County Kerry, Ireland

6. Glanleam Beach, Valentia Island, Co. Kerry
While Glanleam Beach may well be on the Wild Atlantic Way, it’s more subtropical shoreline than wild and rugged. Situated along the Gulf Stream and at the foot of a sheltered valley, Glanleam is one of the warmest beaches on the west coast and a top spot for sunbathing during the warmer summer months.

Dog's Bay Beach, County Galway

7. Dog’s Bay and Gurteen Bay, Connemara, Co. Galway
With a little imagination, and if you wrap up warm, a sunny day in Dog’s Bay and Gurteen Bay could be confused with the Caribbean. These two white-sand crescents look like a mirror image of each other when viewed from above, with just a few hundred metres of flat green headland keeping them apart. The beaches are some of the safest in the area, protected from waves and without any major currents to be cautious about. These were always going to make it on to our list of Ireland’s best beaches.

This article was originally published on 08 December 2019.

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