You have to check out these stunning beaches in Ireland’s northwest.
Despite being statistically the least visited two counties on The Wild Atlantic Way, both Sligo and Donegal, which make up part of the northwest coast of Ireland, are home to some of the most stunning beaches in Ireland.
Both counties have unsurprisingly proved to be popular destinations for those who prefer to go off the beaten track and find hidden gems. Here are ten of the best beaches in Ireland’s northwest.
10. Strandhill, County Sligo − watch the waves roll in
They say a good place to live is a good place to visit, and this couldn’t be any truer when speaking about the community of Strandhill.
The seaside village really has it all. Although the water isn’t safe for swimming due to the strong current, this little place has so much more to offer visitors.
This includes surfing, sand dunes and its close proximity to Knocknarea, The Glen, Culleenamore and Killaspugbrone church. This is certainly one of the best beaches in Sligo.
Address: An Leathros, Carrowbunnaun, Co. Sligo, Ireland
9. Rosses Point, County Sligo − a popular spot in summer
With over 2 km (1.2 miles) of sandy beaches as well as views of the surrounding Benbulben and Knocknarea, Rosses Point is always a popular summer spot for visitors as well as locals.
There are three beaches, so if crowded areas are not your preference, the second and third beaches are within walking distance.
Address: Rosses Point, An Ros, Rosses Upper, Co. Sligo, Ireland
8. Streedagh Strand, County Sligo − Ireland’s best kept secret
Often described as ‘Ireland’s best-kept secret’ and stretching across 3 km (1.8 miles), Streedagh Strand is an impressive and isolated beach placed on the shore of a sandbar.
Streedagh is exposed to the natural elements, including reef breaks – making it a perfect year-round surf spot.
Situated within a few minutes of Mullaghmore, many tourists often kill two birds with one stone by visiting both beaches on the same day.
Address: Streedagh, Co. Sligo, Ireland
7. Mullaghmore Beach, Sligo − a stunning stretch
Mullaghmore is a small fishing village with a wonderful, long sandy beach and is situated just outside of Sligo town.
If it’s surfing you’re looking for, Mullaghmore is regarded by many as one of the best places in the world for big wave surfing and attracts thousands of surfers from around the globe each year.
As well as surfing, the water at Mullaghmore is also great for safe swimming, coasteering and sea angling.
Address: The Woods, Co. Sligo, Ireland
6. Silver Strand Beach, County Donegal − a place of phenomenal beauty
Also in Donegal, Silver Strand Beach is a place of phenomenal beauty, with cliffs on each side of the sand, sheltering visitors from the wind.
If you’re fortunate to visit on a sunny day, you will be treated to beautifully blue, clear water and shiny silver sand – where the beach gets its name from.
Address: Malin Beg, Glencolumbkille, Co. Donegal, Ireland
5. Ballymastocker Bay (Portsalon Beach), County Donegal − one of the best beaches in Ireland’s northwest
Portsalon Beach 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 on the R246 from Carrowkeel to Portsalon. It is widely recognised as one of Donegal’s most beautiful beaches and, indeed, one of Ireland’s top beaches.
Address: R268, Killavee, Co. Donegal, Ireland
4. Culleenamore, County Sligo − an idyllic setting
Culleenamore is a wonderfully quiet and peaceful beach close to the idyllic seaside village of Strandhill and just 9 km (5.5 miles) from Sligo Town.
It is just one of many hidden gems along the Sligo coastline, with views of the nearby Knocknarea Mountain and the sand dunes at Strandhill.
And because it does not receive any ocean swell, the water at Culleenamore is always calm – perfect for a relaxing swim, walk or jog.
Address: Strandhill, Co. Sligo, Ireland
3. Dooey Beach, County Donegal − for crystal clear waters
Dooey Beach is nestled in a tiny village close to the Donegal town of Glencolmcille, and with crystal clear water and stunning surroundings, the beach could be described as paradise by many, especially when the weather is kind.
When the sun is shining, Dooey Beach really is something special.
Address: Dooey, Co. Donegal, Ireland
2. Five Fingers Strand, County Donegal − the starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way
Located close to the townland of Lagg, on the Inishowen peninsula, Five Fingers Strand is considered by some as the starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Five Fingers Strand is home to some of the highest sand dunes in Europe as well as some stunning views towards the Atlantic to Glashedy Island.
Address: Co. Donegal, Ireland
1. Murder Hole Beach, County Donegal − a popular destination in Donegal
Although it is not the most accessible, this Murder Hole Beach on the Rosguill Peninsula is well worth the journey.
After a short descent, you will be greeted by beautiful caves and surrounding cliffs. Don’t be discouraged by the sound of the name, though. There is nothing gruesome about this location, which is why it gets the number one spot on this list.
Address: Sheephaven Bay, Ireland
Other notable mentions
Enniscrone Beach, County Sligo: Enniscrone Beach is one of the best beaches in Sligo and is certainly one of the most beautiful beaches in the area.
There are plenty of great surf schools that take you to this beach in Enniscrone, like Tonnta Adventure. With County Mayo only a 15-minute drive away, there is so much to see and explore in the area.
Bundoran Blue Flag Beach, County Donegal: This golden sand beach is a popular spot in the northwest.
Rossnowlagh Beach, County Donegal: Rossnowlagh Beach is the perfect spot to take some surf lessons.
FAQs about the best beaches in Ireland’s northwest
Does Northern Ireland have nice beaches?
There are copious amounts of stunning beaches in Northern Ireland. You’ll find swimmers and those doing watersports basking in the glory of the north and its beaches all year round.
Helen’s Bay and Ballycastle Beach are just a couple of examples of the best beaches in Northern Ireland.
What is the nicest beach in Ireland?
Ireland is full of stunning beaches. Keem Bay on Achill Island is often touted as one of the most picturesque in the country. We think Dog’s Bay in County Galway is an underrated gem in Ireland’s beach book.
What is the most western beach in Ireland?
Coomeenole on the Dingle Peninsula is the most westerly beach on the island of Ireland. The views of Blasket Islands from this beach are fantastic.