Set along the north coast of Ireland, County Derry is home to some truly magical beaches.
When you hear of Derry, beaches, coves, and crystal-clear blue waters may not immediately spring to mind. Instead, the Sperrin Mountains and the vibrant city are perhaps your foremost thoughts.
But, it would be a mistake to ignore the quality of the coastline that borders the sea adjacent to it. With the Antrim and Donegal coasts flanking either side, it is no surprise that the Oak Leaf county has its own fair share of strands to whet the coastal appetite.
5. Magilligan Strand – one for the surfers
Kicking off our list of the top five best beaches in Derry is Magilligan Point, a peninsula situated in northwest Derry. It is now part of a local nature reserve, becoming a favourite for surfers and swimmers alike.
The Strand itself is buttressed from behind by one of the largest sand dune systems in the North. It is also ideal for a breezy walk and day out as the beach itself is complemented by a café, caravan park, and paddling pool.
The Strand stretches a total of 11.3 km (7 miles) from Castlerock Beach. As a Blue Flag beach, don’t be shy if you fancy a swim or surf. Keep an eye out below, as it is undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Derry we have to show you.
Address: Magilligan Point, Limavady, Derry, BT49 0LR
4. Portstewart Strand – one of the best beaches in Derry
Portstewart Strand is perhaps a little harshly placed so far up on the list of the best beaches in Derry at number four. But, perhaps that is testament to the level of coastal quality that County Derry can sport.
The National Trust immediately wax lyrical about the “miles of golden sand” on show in Portstewart. It is not only one of Derry’s best beaches but one of the premier spots on all of Ireland’s northern coast.
The beach stretches for 3.2 km (2 miles) with views of both Mussenden Temple and Inishowen of neighbouring County Donegal. Not many beaches can rival this epic scenery.
The Strand is also married to the Barmouth Wildlife Reserve, which acts as a bird sanctuary to break up your beach walk, water dip, or place in the sun. It is another Blue Flag beach.
Address: Portstewart, Co. Derry
3. Portrush, Whiterocks Beach – for views of idyllic limestone cliffs
Just off the magnificent Causeway Coastal Route that takes you through the unhinged majesty of Antrim’s Coast is the Whiterocks Beach. It is overlooked and enveloped by white limestone cliffs that leave its visitors in awe.
The beach is also popular with visitors and residents of the nearby Portrush, as the beach boasts an endless surface of sand from the town’s East Strand.
It is also a haven for water enthusiasts with year-round surfing on show, and don’t be surprised if a bodyboarder or kayaker also catch your eye.
The limestone rocks have been carved out naturally through the centuries, developing the landscape into a modern-day masterpiece. Your day out to Portrush is truly capped off with time spent on Whiterocks Beach.
Address: Portrush, Co. Derry, BT56 8DF
2. Castlerock Beach – a kilometer strip of golden coast
Nestled between the cliffs of Downhill Demesne and the Lower River Bann lies a stunning 1 km golden strip known as Castlerock Beach. It has easy access via the four boardwalks that dissect the beach’s sand dunes.
The Beach received the prestigious Seaside Award in 2020, and if that wasn’t reason enough to visit, then a couple of hours in the seaside holiday village of Castlerock to its rear might also tempt you.
It is also part of the Benevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; the vast landscape of rich sand and the quiet backdrop of the Castlerock village act as silent security for your stay.
Castlerock is also a haven for golf fans. The Castlerock Golf Club championship golf course isn’t too far away, boasting both a 9-hole and 18-hole course.
Address: 4 Sea Road, Castlerock, Coleraine, BT51 4RE
1. Benone Strand – with the overlooking eye of Mussenden Temple
Benone Strand edges out its nearest competitors as one the best beaches in Derry, and it’s clear to see why. The overarching presence of the awe-inspiring Mussenden Temple is just about enough evidence for us.
11.3 km (7 miles) of sand awaits you on Benone Strand, with the Atlantic Ocean moving back and forth to greet you. The blissful views of Donegal taunt you to come further west to the hills of Donegal.
The beach itself is exempt from rocks and seaweed, so you can take a long walk or rest your back and bask in the sun without fear of any unwanted interruption.
The cliffs that guard it ensure that you get the most out of your time here. Cut off from the outside world, you will be left to indulge in the peace of the water, sand, and views.
Address: Limavady, BT49 0LQ