This weekend we are due for some truly summer holiday weather with temperatures similar to the southern Mediterranean coastline. So for all of us that are 'stranded' in Ireland we should take a moment to realize that we have some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe... we just don't always get the sunshine to fully appreciate them... until now! Here is my list of the best beaches in each county that has a coastline. So take the kids, pack a picnic and relax in the sun this weekend.
Achill Island’s captivating Keem Bay lies to the west of the village of Dooagh. Nestled within its horseshoe-shaped valley lies a splendid cove, bordered by awe-inspiring cliffs and accessed via a road along the side of Croaghaun mountain, known for having the highest sea cliffs in Ireland. Formerly a basking shark fishery, this sheltered strand on the spectacularly scenic Wild Atlantic Way has more to offer than just the majestic view. It also boasts crystal clear waters, ideal for scuba divers and snorkeling enthusiasts.
A popular surfing beach on the dramatic Dingle peninsula, Inch is a three-mile-long sand-spit that separates the harbors of Dingle and Castlemaine. At Inch there are fabulous views across the white sand beach and into Dingle Bay. The surrounding Slieve Mish Mountains only add to the beauty of this spot. It's place in cinematic history was made when it was featured extensively in the Academy Award-winning 1970 film Ryan’s Daughter.
Ballymastocker Bay is is a truly spectacular Blue Flag beach located on the Fanad Peninsula in north county Donegal. Once named the second most beautiful beach in the World by Observer Magazine.
Inchadoney Beach located near Clonakilty in West Cork has been named top Irish beach in several publications and websites over the years. The Virgin Mary’s Bank headland at the southern tip of Inchydoney Island is now connected to the mainland by causeway and is flanked by two stretches of beautiful Atlantic seafront. The golden sands, blue flag pristine waters and ideal surfing conditions make it a huge hit with locals and tourists alike.
Banna Strand Beach
Banna Strand is situated in Tralee Bay in County Kerry. It is located approximately 12 km north west of Tralee. This is a walkers paradise with views of the mountains of the Dingle Peninsula on the southwest horizon, Kerry Head and the Maulin Mountain to the northwest and straight out to sea you can see Mucklaghmore Rock. The sand dunes here are a designated conservation area with rare plants and animals. It's is a popular surfing spot with surfing lessons and summer camps.
Within a stone's throw of Dublin, the beach at Portmarnock is also known as the Velvet Strand due to the beautiful smooth sand that makes up the three miles of Portmarnock Strand.
The beach is backed by rolling sand dunes that lead onto the Portmarnock Championship golf course. These dunes are an important natural feature and are home to a variety of flora and fauna.
UL Beach is technically a riverside beach. However it is popular with kids and watersports enthusiasts alike. Picturesque with great facilities nearby.
Fanore’s large sandy beach and clear waters are very popular with walkers, swimmers and surfers. Surfers can find a relaxing alternative to the very busy Lahinch. From Fanore beach the Burren is in easy walking distance.
Inside this estuary are the sweeping sandbanks of Culleenamore. If it’s peace and quiet you’re looking for, somewhere to jog or walk the dog under the watchful eye of Knocknarea, then this is your spot. Unlike Strandhill Beach, Culleenamore does not receive any ocean swell, so it is always calm. The tidal movement on this beach is remarkable, with sandbanks fully exposed at low tides and completely submerged only hours later. On low tides, it is possible to see one of Ireland’s largest seal colonies relaxing on the central sandbanks.
Portrush East Strand -
East Strand Beach forms a continuum of sand, approx 4 kms long, merging into Curran Strand and Whiterocks at its eastern extremity. East Strand Beach is popular for watersports all year round, especially surfing. The beach is bounded by an impressive new pedestrian promenade and an extensive dune system hosting the world famous Royal Portrush Golf Course. Excellent views of The Skerries and the Causeway headlands.
The Downhill Strand beach forms the eastern end of a magnificent 11km stretch of sand and surf centred on the town of Castlerock.
This is some of the most scenic coastline in Northern Ireland and there are fantastic views along the cliffs that back the beach. At points along the length of the beach there are sand dunes and even a waterfall. However, the most iconic feature is the Mussenden Temple which sits precariously close to the edge of the high cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Recently the beach at Downhill was used as a location for Dragonstone in the Game of Thrones.
There is no doubt that the Wexford coastline is blessed with beautiful beaches, including Morriscastle Beach and Ballymoney Beach but this one comes out on top. Stretching 11 kilometres Curracloe is truly spectacular and was actually used as the location for the D-Day sequence in Stephen Speilbergs Saving Private Ryan.
Tramore beach is a wonderful sandy beach sweeping for miles from the foot of Tramore town to the distant sand-dunes. In fact, Tramore town derives its name from the Irish words "Tra Mhor", Tra meaning beach, and Mor meaning Big. Big Beach. It's popular with surfers, strollers and swimmers alike, and is big enough to encompass them all. The cliff end of the beach has a swimming area called "Ladies Slip", dating from when ladies and gents swam in different areas.
Chosen recently to host a major world beach volleyball championships Bettystown Beach, is famous for its amusements and ice-cream and is extremely popular with tourists and locals due to the numerous facilities close by was well as the vast expanse of the soft white sandy beach.
The beach is a fine expanse of sand with small sand dunes in the background and nice views of Tievebaun and Truskmor mountains behind.
The water here looks and feels clean, its soft underfoot and you get to your depth gradually. There is plenty of space for children to play and Mullaghmore is not too exposed to the winds
There is a smallish grassy car park but more spaces are available as you drive past the beach and nearby harbour. Public toilets are available at what is a 19th century harbour which in itself is an attractive spot. A nice green area with some seats overlooks the beach and gives you panoramic views.
Brittas Bay -
Brittas has a 5km stretch of powdery sand and sand dunes, it is designated as a proposed Special Area of Conservation (SAC). It is an area of ecological importance and habitats of interest include sand dunes, ferns and grassland areas. The landscape is dominated by the dunes which cover approx 100 hectares. The beach is life guarded throughout the bathing season.
Brittas Bay has been awarded ‘European Union (EU) Blue Flag’ . With no headlands to interfere with the peaceful rhythm, it is ideal for bathing, sailing and walking.
The dunes are home to many interesting wildlife species and plants, including a number of rare species. It is said that Brittas Bay was the initial landing site of St Patrick.
Seapoint Beach -
A long, secluded, mostly sandy beach with some rocks. Its length and width make it a popular spot for walkers who come here to enjoy the sea air in a quiet setting.
The beach ends at the mouth of the river Boyne. At the northern end, the beach is bounded by a crossable stream. Along the beach, are the remains of a vessel that ran aground here in 1974, a popular spot for taking photographs. Facilities such as shops, places to eat can be found in the town, about a kilometre inshore.
Helen's Bay is a popular sandy beach, next to the village bearing the same name. The village was built in the mid-19th century with aspirations of becoming a luxury holiday resort for visitors from the city.
The railway station is only about 500 meters from the beach.
The sands shelve gently into the sea and the water is very clean, making this a good destination for swimming.
The local area is a haven for wildlife. Look out over Belfast Bay, for seals and dolphins which can sometimes be spotted off-shore. During the summer months, eider ducks and terns can be spotted in the surrounding area. In winter, wading birds make their home here.