Written by Niamh O’Reilly
Here in Ireland we have no shortage of sandy shores, with over 900 miles of coastline to explore. The Irish climate may not be tropical, but as a nation we are not afraid of throwing on our swimming togs and making the most the gorgeous beaches on offer. The standard is high, but we’ve put together a list of our favourites. Since it’s the year to explore the Island of Ireland, why not tick some of these must-see beaches off your list?
The last thing you want on your trip is to break down without a plan, and we all know the best Irish beaches are off the beaten track. AA Members can avail of roadside rescue any day, any time; whether you’re stuck in the middle of the M7, or as far west as you can go. Buy online here and enjoy peace of mind en route to the coast.
Maghera Beach, Donegal
Maghera Caves. Photo by Philip McErlean.
A trip to Donegal is an absolute must for beach-enthusiasts and Maghera Strand is one reason why. The secluded beach is located off the Wild Atlantic Way, about 9km west of Ardara, and provides stunning views of the Slievetooey mountains. At low tide, the Maghera Caves can be reached at the foot of the mountains. And while you’re in the area, take a look at the Assaranca Waterfall which is a mere kilometre from the beach.
Dog’s Bay, Galway
Way out west, and a seven-minute drive from Roundstone Village lies Dogs Bay. There’s no turning back once you head down the narrow country road to the car park, but the view at the end is worth it. It’s a horseshoe-shaped bay with more than a mile-long stretch of white sandy beach and turquoise water. With your back to the sea, you’ll be facing in the direction of Gurteen Bay, which lies back-to-back with Dog’s Bay, barely a kilometre away.
Keem Bay, Achill, Mayo
Keem Bay, Achill. Photo by Eric Verleene.
Looking like something out of a travel magazine, Keem Bay can be found at the western end of Achill Island, past Dooagh Village. Overlooked by the Croaghaun Mountains, it’s well worth the trip way out west. If you’re looking for an uninterrupted and peaceful walk, this is the beach for you. It’s virtually uninhabited, with the only building being an old lifeguard hut.
Inchydoney Beach, Cork
Inchydoney Beach near Clonakilty in West Cork is a Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Point. The beach is renowned for its excellent surfing conditions, with a surf school located on the shore for some lessons before heading out. With the colourful shopfronts of Clonakilty a 10-minute drive away, we dare you not to stop off in the famous Cork town after a dip.
Inch Beach, Kerry
Inch Beach. Photo by Fred Montwell.
Inch Beach is a 5km long strand located on the stunning Dingle Peninsula. It holds views of Dingle Bay and is ideal for swimming, surfing and water sports. You’ll have plenty of overnight options while visiting as the beach lies within 30-minutes’ drive of both Dingle and Tralee. While you’re in the area, pay a visit to Annascaul Village, the birthplace of Antarctic explorer and famous Kerryman Tom Crean.
Rossnowlagh Beach, Donegal
Rossnowlagh is a seaside village about 8km north of Ballyshannon and 16km southwest of Donegal Town. The beach has spectacular views over Donegal Bay taking in the dramatic sea cliffs of Slieve League towering over the Atlantic Ocean. Rossnowlagh is one of Donegal’s best surfing spots too, with plenty of opportunities to learn at the various surf schools.
Curracloe Beach, Wexford
Curracloe Beach. Photo by Vasiok1.
If it’s good enough for Spielberg it’s good enough for us. You heard it right, Curracloe Beach is quite the celebrity after featuring in the opening scenes of World War II epic Saving Private Ryan. If that doesn’t leave you star-struck, the 11km sandy coastline sheltered by dunes will. Its waters have the coveted Blue Flag status, meaning they’re perfect for a swimming and with life guards stationed on the stretch known as White Gap in the summer, you can splash around safely.
Brittas Bay, Wicklow
They say that Brittas Bay was the initial landing spot for St. Patrick, so it’s no wonder he stayed. Located on Ireland’s east coast, you’ll find Brittas Bay about 12km south of Wicklow Town. The powdery sand stretches for 5km in front of high sand dunes. Perfect for sailing and swimming, Brittas Bay is another on the Blue Flag list.
Silver Strand Beach, Donegal
Perhaps one of the lesser-known beaches of the same name around the country, this Silver Strand is situated at Malin Beg, near Glencolmcille. It too has that picturesque horseshoe shape. The only way to describe Silver Strand is paradise. It has crystal-clear water and stunning views that look out to the bay. If you’re lucky, you might have it all to yourself.
While you’re on the road, why not see if you’re near one of these scenic drives and make a day out of it. Remember, breakdowns can happen anywhere, at any time. Don’t get left at the side of the road on your day out. To make sure you’ve access to trained mechanics 24/7, get AA Membership today.
Written by Niamh O’Reilly