Lots of us won’t bask on idyllic foreign shores this year. But Ireland has no shortage of gorgeous beaches, so why not plan your very own day in paradise. Pick a sunny day and you’re guaranteed to spend it saying things like sure, who needs to go abroad anyway.
Soon we’ll be free to roam all over our wonderful country again and heaven knows, we all deserve a bit of that desert island feeling. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the best beaches in Ireland to make you feel like you won the lotto for a day. So what are you waiting for – choose your spot, check the weather forecast and go for it.
Silver Strand, Co Wicklow
The crowds flock to Brittas Bay just down the road, but if a more sheltered cove is your cup of tea, you can’t beat Silver Strand on a sunny day. The water is calm and clear, and you won’t find a single stone on the beach – just lots of lovely golden sand. Silver Strand is a lot smaller than Brittas Bay, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in charm. Check it out for yourself – and then try not to tell anyone about it!
The beach is accessed through a campsite, there is a small charge for the car park. The walk from the car park down to the beach isn’t terribly long, but there are lots of steps. There are no shops nearby so bring everything you need because once you get there, you won’t want to leave.
Baginbun Beach, Hook Peninsula, Co. Wexford
Wexford has no shortage of big, sandy beaches to draw the crowds but if you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, you can’t beat this little gem. Nestled into a cove near Hook Head Lighthouse, Baginbun’s location on the more sheltered side of the peninsula means you can leave the wind-breaker at home and enjoy the sun, sea and sand as nature intended.
Stradbally Cove, Co. Waterford
The Copper Coast in Waterford is a UNESCO Global Geopark, which means that it’s an area of particular geological importance. There are around 150 of these sites across the globe, with two more in Ireland (the Burren and Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare, and the Marble Arch Caves in Fermanagh and Cavan).
Named for its nineteenth century copper mines, the Copper Coast was formed over millions of years by volcanoes, ice sheets, deserts and ocean. UNESCO calls it an outdoor geology museum because many ages of evolution are on display there. Of course, over the years humans have left their mark there too, so there are plenty of historical sites like dolmens, iron age forts and medieval buildings.
The Copper Coast’s 25 kilometres is dotted with beaches, coves, sea stacks, arches and blow holes making it a great place to explore. Strabally Cove is just one of many gorgeous beaches in this part of the country, but it makes our list for its soft sand, gorgeous scenery and off the beaten track feel.
Warren Beach, Co. Cork
The Cork coast is blessed with many fabulous beaches. The famous Inchydoney beach is a short drive away and while it’s well worth a visit, Warren Beach has a more local feel. Located in a natural heritage area and backed by sand dunes and green fields, this is a beautiful, sandy beach with good facilities, including parking, toilets and a café.
Barley Cove, Co. Cork
This beautiful beach lies a short drive away from the spectacular Mizen Head, Ireland’s most south-westerly point. It features partially eroded sand dunes, thrown up by a tidal wave that swept Europe in 1755 following an earthquake in Lisbon. The water is crystal clear, the sand pristine and its location means you won’t have to fight your way through the crowds to claim your spot. On a sunny summer’s day, it doesn’t get more perfect than this.
Coumeenole Beach, Co. Kerry
Located at the tip of the Dingle Peninsula, this beach provides fantastic views of the Blasket Islands and is a popular stop off point for tourists on the Slea Head Drive – one of the most scenic drives in the country. The car park here is also used to access Dunmore Head, which is the most westerly point in Ireland (with the exception of the islands). You may feel more inclined to walk down to the beach rather than up the hill to Dunmore Head, but trust us when we tell you it’s definitely worth the effort.
Derrynane Beach, Co. Kerry
Another gorgeous beach, but don’t take our word for it – check out the drone footage below. Situated a couple of miles off the Ring of Kerry, near the village of Caherdaniel, there’s no denying that Derrynane is one of the best beaches in Ireland. Certainly, there are worse ways to spend a day than relaxing on this stretch of sand. And when you’ve had enough of sun-bathing, take in the stunning views with a walk along the coast. The ruins of an abbey, located nearby, are accessible at low tide.
Gurteen & Dog’s Bay Beaches, Co. Galway
Connemara has no shortage of beautiful beaches, but these two deserve a special mention. Lying back to back, they form a tombolo (a bar of sand joining an island to the mainland) and are surrounded by clear blue Atlantic waters. Unusually, the sand on these beaches is composed of tiny fragments of sea shells. Both bays are well sheltered and safe for swimming, plus there are some wonderful walking trails. Find out more here.
Glassilaun Beach, Co. Galway
This popular local beauty spot is simply stunning. Unspoilt, not too crowded, safe for swimming and surrounded by countryside. Another one on the shortlist of best beaches in Ireland. Just go, there’s nothing more to say.
Keem Bay, Achill Island, Co. Mayo
Another stunning beach, with rolling green hills, a sheltered bay and the blue-green waters of the Atlantic Ocean . This beach is about an hour’s drive from Westport, along a very scenic route. It’s a well-known beauty spot so it can get quite busy when the weather is good, but the picture postcard location makes it worth the effort.
Silver Strand, Co Donegal
We started with Silver Strand in Wicklow, so it’s appropriate that we finish with another Silver Strand. There are steps down to this amazing location – around 160 in total – so bring everything you need because nobody will volunteer to go back to the car for your book / sunglasses / lunch. At the car park, there are portaloos and in summertime, a tea/ice cream van. There is a tea room a short walk away in the nearby village of Malin Beg.
Have we missed your favourite? Send us your nomination to add to our list of best beaches in Ireland. Our buckets and spades are at the ready – all we need is some good luck from the weather gods and we’re on our way.