Mayo’s wild and rugged coastline makes choosing only five beaches quite the challenge, but after a long process, we have selected five of the most stunning beaches that just can’t be missed when you visit Mayo. Whether you’re looking for a fun family day out, a taste of water sports or the perfect Instagram, we’ve got you covered!
5. Portacloy, Cois Abhainn
This spectacular beach takes the phrase ‘the middle of nowhere’ to a whole new level and truly belongs on the front of a postcard. You won’t find postcards in Portacloy however because to be perfectly honest you won’t find much at all at Portacloy, which makes discovering this charming little beach all the better.
Nestled deep into a natural harbour, the beach is a safe haven for swimming or snorkelling and is an extraordinary place to spend the day. Bring the sandwiches though as you won’t find a café or shop for miles, all part of the charm! Check out the 18km Portacloy Loop Walk which starts and finishes at the beach and takes you along sea cliffs all the way to the extraordinary view of Benwee Head.
4. Old Head Beach, Louisburgh
Old Head Beach located near the lovely village of Louisburgh has a blue flag and features some fantastic views of Croagh Patrick. Plenty of shops, pubs and restaurants can be found in Louisburgh, and the beach is very safe for swimming with a lifeguard on duty during the summer months.
This beach is ideal for anyone wishing to try out some waters sports such as Kayaking, snorkelling or Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP). Don’t stress if you don’t have your own equipment as there are plenty of places in the area that you can rent from.
The Summer SUP school at Old Head provide rentals, lessons, Summer Camps and Explorer Tours and they are open from May to September. Check out Wild Atlantic Leisure in Louisburgh for bike, kayak, wetsuit and fishing and diving rental.
3. Keem Bay, Achill Island
A trip to Mayo isn’t complete without visiting Achill but make sure to continue your Achill adventure all the way out to the Western end of the Island to the picturesque Keel Bay and Beach.
Accessible by road from the village of Dooagh over a twisting clifftop route on the side of the dramatic Croaghaun mountain, there is something extraordinary about this blue flag beach, completely hidden from the rest of the world.
Take the perfect Instagram shot and then put the phone away because a day spent on this incredible sandy beach nestled by the surrounding cliffs, will leave you feeling well rested, relaxed and almost ready to enter back into civilisation. You probably won’t have phone reception anyway!
2. Srah, Claggan Island
One of the discovery points on the Wild Atlantic Way, Claggan Island and its beach Srah, can be found on the northeastern corner of Blacksod Bay and is unique in many ways. The beach gets its name from the Irish word ‘Sraith’ which refers to the stretch of sand that connects the island to the mainland and makes up this beautiful sandy beach.
Although you can drive across the small stretch of sand in low tide, Claggan Island has the distinction of being Mayo’s newest island, having only been declared an official island in 1991 when it was cut off from the mainland by a fierce Atlantic Storm. With a population of only 8 on the Island, you can be guaranteed plenty of privacy, peace and quiet and you certainly won’t have to fight for a good spot for your towel. Heaven!
Check out the Belmullet Coast Guard Station on the Island, which has recently been transformed into luxury self-catering accommodation. Stay in the restored 1700’s building or in the luxury glamping pods on the same site. Unique accommodation in a truly unique place.
1. Cross Beach
Situated on the undiscovered Mullet Peninsula in North West Mayo, just 10 minutes outside the town of Belmullet, Cross Beach is a hidden gem that will leave you breathless. One of the longest beaches on the peninsula, you can walk for miles and enjoy incredible views of Inis Gluaire and Achill Island.
Don’t miss the Cross Loop Walk which takes you along the beach, around nearby Cross Lake where you can spot some of Ireland’s best kite surfers and back again to the beach. After all that walking it will be time for a rest on the glorious golden white sand and a dip in the crystal-clear turquoise water.
If you haven’t got your fill of beautiful scenery yet, take a further drive out the peninsula and check out the other incredible beaches dotted along the coast including Elly, Mullaghroe, Tearman (Aughleam), Glosh and Falmore.
If any gaelgóirí or Irish speakers are reading this, the Mullet Peninsula is a Gaeltacht area so feel free to use your cúpla focail when you bump into any locals. If you need somewhere to stay on the peninsula, I can highly recommend Léim Siar B&B in the beautiful setting of Blacksod Harbour.