From north to south, Ireland has an abundance of beautiful beaches. For this reason, it is very difficult to narrow all the beautiful beaches down to a small list of just 10. However, we have done our very best to highlight our Top 10 Beaches in Ireland you should visit before you die.
10. Main Beach, Bundoran, Co. Donegal
This beach is responsible for inspiring the timeless classic song “Beautiful Bundoran” and the seaside town in which it is located has always been a preferred destination for international and Irish surfers alike and it was even tapped for European Championship hosting duties in 2011.
The Peak, one of Ireland’s most well-known waves, breaks over an offshore reef, luring expert surfers from all over the world. Meanwhile, the main beach area is able to accommodate less experienced surfers each summer. National Geographic named Bundoran one of the top 20 surf towns in the world and there is also a yearly surf and music festival known as Sea Sessions that takes place each summer.
9. Killiney Strand, Co. Dublin
This strand is located in southern Dublin, just a quick train journey from central Dublin, while still maintaining a feel that the rest of the city is unable to match. The beach may be ridden with stones, but travellers are still able to take a peaceful swim in the bay, but many travellers will tell you that perhaps the best way to spend your day here is by strolling up Killiney Hill to take in the astonishing panoramic views.
At its peak, you are also able to make out the Bray Head headland in the distance, in addition to the Wicklow Mountains and the pristine blue waters of the Irish Sea. If the weather conditions allow for it, you might even have the chance to catch a glimpse of Wales!
8. Coumeenole Beach, Dunquin, Co. Kerry
Seeing photos of this beautiful place might prompt you to ask whether this magical beach actually exists, however, we can assure you that the beauty is very much real. This place is so beautiful that Lonely Planet once described it as “one of the most beautiful places on earth”, and after visiting, you will have to agree.
Unfortunately, swimming is not recommended here due to strong and unpredictable currents, however, the surrounding cliffs make the perfect place to walk and take photographs of the scenery.
7. Portstewart Strand, Co. Derry
‘The Strand’ is a mile west of Portstewart in County Derry. This blue flag beach offers two flat miles of golden sand which make it the perfect place for picnics, castle building and bodyboarding/surfing. For nature lovers, a walking trail meanders through towering 6,000-year-old dunes to a wildlife reserve on the Bann estuary behind the beach.
Spot rabbits, butterflies, rare wildflowers like bee orchids, and birds like the striking shelduck. When you’ve worked up an appetite, head for laid-back Harry’s Shack for fish and chips while soaking up views of the North Atlantic. Car parking is allowed on specific areas of the beach. The beach is well signposted from Portstewart town.
6. Inchydoney Beach, Co. Cork
With its peaceful and spacious sands, this breathtaking beach, located just outside Clonakilty in western Cork has reigned supreme on Ireland’s beach lists among TripAdvisor users for three consecutive years, receiving several coveted Travelers’ Choice Awards.
Revellers are able to relax next to the crystal clear waters and enjoy optimal conditions for surfing. The Virgin Mary’s Bank headland has also been connected to the mainland with a helpful causeway to make life easier for travellers.
5. Keem Beach, Co. Mayo
Those who visit the village of Dooagh in Mayo are often captivated by Achill Island’s Keem Bay. Safely nestled in the horseshoe-shaped valley, travellers can explore Keem Beach’s uniquely beautiful cove, which is surrounding by jaw-dropping cliffs.
This area is only accessible by a Croaghaun mountain road, which is well known for its high altitude sea cliffs, which are the tallest in Ireland. Keem Beach used to be home to a basking shark fishery and while many trek to this secluded strand on the spectacularly scenic strand for the majestic view, it is also a popular destination for scuba divers and snorkelling enthusiasts.
4. Dog’s Bay and Gurteen Bay, Connemara
These two amazing white sand crescents almost 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 sand here is part of the appeal, consisting of shells from sea creatures or foraminifera, which gives the sand its dazzlingly white colour.
The beaches are some of the safest in the area, protected from waves and without any major currents to be cautious about. The only thing you may need to fear is the temperature of the water – in January and February, the weather in this part of Ireland can be pretty unbearable, with temperatures as low as 2°C. While there are no facilities by the beach, there is a decent supermarket in the village of Roundstone, just three miles away.
3. Portsalon Beach, Co. Donegal
Portsalon Beach in Donegal is a beautiful sandy beach on the shores of Lough Swilly. It gently slopes towards the Atlantic ocean and is located in a Natural Heritage Area. This beach is truly magnificent when viewed from above. The beach at Portsalon can be reached by travelling northeast in the R246 from Carrowkeel to Portsalon. It is widely recognised as one of Donegal’s finest beaches and indeed, one of Ireland’s top beaches.
2. Inch Beach, Co. Kerry
Located on the Dingle peninsula, this popular surfing beach Inch stretches for three miles, separating the harbours of Dingle and Castlemaine. Inch also provides unsuspecting tourists who are approaching the peninsula from the eastern side are with some of the most fabulous views that they will ever come across.
In addition to the silent majesty of the Slieve Mish Mountains, Inch provides a breathtaking setting for Ireland travellers. This cinematic vista was also featured in the classic Hollywood film Ryan’s Daughter.
1. Murlough Beach, Co. Down
Murlough Beach comprises of a wide flat sandy beach with a 2 m wide pebble ridge above high water mark. The beach is backed by an ancient sand dune system throughout its 6 km length. A large area of the dunes is designated as a National Nature Reserve.
The Nature Reserve is a fragile 6,000-year-old sand dune system. It is an excellent area for walking and bird watching due to its location at the edge of Dundrum Bay and the Mourne Mountains. The spectacular scenery makes it one of Ireland’s greatest beaches.