Best Beaches in Ireland
Making a list of the best beaches in Ireland is a very big task as we are an island nation so surrounded by myriads of beaches, both rock and sandy. On the west coast there is the wild Atlantic Ocean with lots of high waves so the perfect place for surfers. On the east coast the waters of the Irish sea are somewhat gentler, except for the odd storm, which can happen fairly often.
Derrynane Beach is situated down the road a little bit from Sneem, Co. Kerry. When it comes to Kerry beaches it is a hard call. It was a toss between Inch beach on the Dingle peninsula; with Derrynane, Castlecove or the Coral Beech, all located on the Iveragh peninsula. The Coral beach is a geological gem but I ended up choosing Derrynane Beach as my best pick for this county. Why? When the children were young we spent many a holiday at Bunavalla. The memories we created included a super trek, regardless of whether it was muddy or not, along the Mass path over to the beach at Derrynane; always making sure to try and avoid the nettles growing on either side of this narrow rough path.
Although the beach is a long open sandy beach it faces south west which means that you are protected from northerly winds with the nearby hills and mountains at your back. Even if it is a cloudy day good sun protection is always essential. This is a blast from the past but one that needs to be put on the Agenda again for the next generation to enjoy.
Whilst there are lots of good self catering properties if you want to give yourself a treat a stay in the Parknasilla Resort & Spa near Sneem ticks all the right boxes.
Lahinch Beach in Co. Clare is a very popular place, whether in high summer or winter. Overlooking Liscannor Bay and the wild Atlantic Ocean the natural curvature of the beach gives it protection from some of the elements. Yet the sea itself and the surf acts like a magnet for expert and learner surfers alike. If it is a sandy beach that you want you will enjoy this one when the tide is out exposing its vast (and freshly cleaned by the tide) sandy surface. When the tide is in visitors tend to hang out on the protecting rocks, which can be a little on the hard side if you are thinking about just laying out flat in search of an even tan. The beach is literally a 5 minute walk from the town so very handy if you fancy an ice cream on your trip to the beach; and who doesn’t.
If you are thinking about going to Co. Clare why not stay at Gregans Castle, nestled on Corkscrew Hill nearby to Ballyvaughan. A nice beach for a day trip would be the Kilmurvey on the Aran Islands, also known locally as ‘An Tra’, which translates literally as ‘beach’.
I was torn between several beaches for this county and will probably be slated for my best pick. When it comes to beaches everybody has their own favourites. Some examples of great beaches in Mayo are Doolough Strand near Geesla, Ross Strand close to Killala and of course Keem beach on Achill Island. Keem boasts brilliant azure water with bleached white sand and faces east thus sheltering it from the sometimes vicious Atlantic winds. However, the winner here is Carrowmore Beach at Louisburgh. Carrowmore is a Blue Flag beach, as indeed are all the other beaches included in this review. It has one of the rarest wildlife habitats, not just in Ireland but in Europe because of its location, surrounded by machair grasslands and its inhabitants of birds and insects. Not a million miles away is Mount Falcon Castle which is located between two great beaches; that of Ross beach and not forgetting Enniscrone beach in Co. Sligo. These beaches are located on either side of Killala Bay. I am hoping that I haven’t omitted any other ones as Mayo is spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches.
Last but by no means least and positioned on the east coast Irish sea and a lot closer to home is the iconic Brittas Bay. Growing up in Dublin the ultimate day out for any child on their holidays was visiting Brittas Bay. This beach is very exposed to the elements as it faces directly east so children learn very quickly how to keep warm and yet have a super time. There are gorgeous sand dunes where you can enjoy races rolling down them and even if you don’t engage in this pastime you are guaranteed to be covered in sand after a day on this beach, particularly if it is windy. To be fair most of the beaches on the east coast lend themselves to making you a hardier person. The north strand at Rush, north Dublin, can be chilly on even the warmest day. Other popular haunts for Dubliners are further south towards Gorey where you will find Courtown beach and Curracloe strand. Curracloe is famous for being the location for the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’. Marlfield House just outside Gorey is the ideal location for both Courtown and Curracloe.
Now all you have to do is look at the weather when you go for a walk on a beach of your choice, but remember this is Ireland and any weather suits for a refreshing blow of wind in your face.