Looking for a beautiful beach to visit in Ireland isn’t a difficult task, especially if you are in the west of the country. But finding the ‘best beach’ is more about finding one that suits your plans for the day. Big wave surfer? Try Bundoran Beach in County Donegal on the north-western tip of Ireland. It’s known by the locals as ‘Ireland’s surf capital’ and its reliable reef and beach breaks bring adrenaline seeking surfers back time and time again. There are no less than four surf schools here to help you brush up on your skills or teach you the basics, including Donegal Adventure Centre, Ireland’s largest surf school.
But maybe you are more the kind of person who would rather view the waves from the beach. Inch Strand in County Kerry provides the kind of epic shoreline vistas that encourage strolling, sitting and generally marvelling at nature’s beauty. This four-mile long sand spit famously featured in the film Ryan’s Daughter and is a popular spot for fans on the trail of the film’s locations. The beach and in fact the whole Dingle Peninsula lend themselves beautifully to any kind of outdoor activity, from windsurfing to whale watching, making the Inch Strand is a must-see beach for anyone visiting the south west corner of Ireland.
A great example of Ireland’s family-friendly beaches is the glorious stretch of sand that is Duncannon Beach in County Wexford. The tide has to come in over miles of sandbank, creating warm, child-friendly waters to splash around in – plus there is a small contingent of shops selling ice-creams and body boards.
For some beach lovers, though, nothing says ‘best beach’ like shining pure white sand. If you are looking for a tropical paradise in Ireland then head for Dog’s Bay in County Galway. The sand gets its white colour from the many millions of seashells that have been ground down to create the sand, unlike the darker limestone beaches that are more usual in this part of the world.
Dog’s Bay is safe for swimming, windsurfing and kitesurfing. It is also an area of ecological importance with grasslands and vegetation only found in Ireland and Scotland. As if one stunning beach wasn’t enough, right next to Dog’s Bay is the equally lovely Gurteen Beach, with the same light blue, crystal-clear waters and white sand.
Horse racing is synonymous with Ireland and you can join your search for the perfect beach with a day at the races with a visit to Bettystown in County Meath. The Laytown races are the only race event in the world run on a beach and they have been going strong for a hundred and forty years.
People travel from all over the world to see this phenomenon and with crowds of up to 11,000 often attending, don’t go expecting a quiet day. This beach is about 46 kilometres north of Dublin and is easily reached by rail or road, plus there is a direct bus from Drogheda.
Many of Ireland’s beaches let you drive your car right down onto the sand. So if you’ve managed to fit the whole family into a 7-seater MPV or other large vehicle, you can unpack the kids and all your beach mats, umbrellas, windbreaks, toys and tents directly onto the beach – which saves plenty of time and energy for frolicking on the beach.
Have you discovered a beautiful beach in Ireland?