Best Beaches in Ireland
The Emerald Isle is blessed with a long and varied coastline. Rugged, towering cliffs, secluded coves, endless sandy strands and charming villages, you'll find them all in Ireland.
Whilst there are beautiful beaches all around Ireland's coast, including in Dublin, visitors tend to gravitate to the stunning scenery of the north and west. The Ring of Kerry is a particularly popular destination with its charming villages, spectacular landscapes, and ancient ruins. It also happens to be home to some of Ireland's best beaches.
More dramatic coastal scenery can be found on the Dingle Peninsula and Achill Island, which is possibly home to the most beautiful beach in Ireland - although that's a pretty tough call.
Below are a list of the best and most beautiful 15 beaches in Ireland as selected by the users of the Beach Guide website.
The current top-rated beach in Ireland is Keem. If you would like to have your say on which are the best beaches in Ireland just follow the link to the beach and vote by clicking the star ratings at the top right of the page.
1. Keem Beach, County Mayo© Mariusz Z
Keem Bay, at the western end of Achill Island is one of the most picturesque small beaches in Ireland.
Clean white sands slope gently into the turquoise waters of the bay. The beautiful beach is backed by grassy slopes and the bay is sheltered on either side by cliffs, which support a variety of plants and wildlife. There is a stunning cliff-top walk from Benmore to Achill Head.
There are no buildings on the beach apart from the nearby remains of a former coastguard…
2. Ballymastocker Bay, County Donegal© Kenneth Allen | BY-SA
Located on the western shores of the deep inlet of Lough Swilly is the spectacular expanse of Ballymastocker Bay. As well as being a winner of the Blue Flag award Ballymastocker was also once voted "second most beautiful beach in the world" by the Observer Magazine.
Also known as Portsalon or Trá Bhaile Mhic an Stocaire, this extensive, beautifully, exceptionally scenic golden sandy beach is in a Natural Habitat Area. Set in a crescent-shaped bay faces east, and is enclosed by green fields,…
3. Rossbeigh Beach, County Kerry© Robert Linsdell
Rossbeigh is a 6 km long, sandy beach with spectacular views over beautiful Dingle Bay. It is one of the best beaches in the area. It makes up part of the Ring of Kerry, a 179 km tourist route with plenty of scenic views in this part of Ireland. At low tide, a good expanse of fine sand is revealed.
Rossbeigh beach is ideal for swimmers, walkers, horse-riders and surfers. Being a Blue Flag beach means not only is the water clean, it is safe with a lifeguard on duty during…
4. Curracloe Beach, County Wexford© Irish Jaunt
A huge stretch of sandy beach reaching from Raven Point to Ballyconnigar near Blackwater.
Curracloe Strand has three separate access points along its length and the sections of the beach are named after these. From north to south there is Ballinesker, White Gap and Culletons Gap. These all have wooden boardwalks running from car parks down to the beach with Ballinesker accessible in a wheelchair.
Regularly awarded Blue Flag status you can rely on there being plenty of facilities…
5. Narin / Portnoo Beach, County Donegal© Bernard Gagnon
This expansive beach is one of the most beautiful on Ireland's Atlantic coast. Stretching over a mile, this golden-white sand beach is backed by low dunes. Beyond these are a couple of caravan sites which have very little impact on the beach and provide a range of facilities.
As a Blue Flag beach you are assured of clean water and safe swimming within the summer months as the beach has lifeguards on duty during the summer.
The views from the beach at Portnoo are panoramic. A little…
6. Inch Strand Beach, County Kerry© David Stanley
Blue-Flag Inch Beach lies on Daingean Bay on the Dingle Peninsula. Visitors to Dingle will find Inch Strand well worth a stop as it is a perfect place to come at any time of the year to blow away the cobwebs.
When you actually see Inch beach the name may seem a little ironic for its expansive sands stretch for around 4 miles, across the entire south-west side of the Inch Peninsula. There is a surfing school directly on the beach and the place is popular with surfers and other…
7. Baginbun Beach, County Wexford© Andreas F. Borchert
Lovely secluded and sheltered sandy beach on the eastern side of Wexford's Hook Peninsula.
The beach here is protected from the prevailing winds by low cliffs behind. The water in the bay is usually calm making it suitable for swimming, although care must be taken as there are no lifeguards and this is a quiet beach.
At the southern end of the beach is Baginbun Head upon which stands a 19th century Martello tower.
8. Dunmoran Strand Beach, County Sligo© Helen Hotson
Dunmoran Strand is long stretch of golden sand backed by grassy dunes and not a lot else. This rural beach is quite secluded and has a wonderfully natural feel to it.
From the beach there are great views over the sand to Sligo's iconic peaks of Knocknarea and Benbulben. On clear days you'll be able to see the mountains of Donegal in the distance.
Throughout the year the beach is frequented by walkers and surfers. Despite its obvious natural charms Dunmoran never…
9. Portmarnock Beach, County Dublin© William Murphy
Within a stone's throw of Ireland's capital, Dublin, the beach at Portmarnock is also known as the Velvet Strand. This is on account of the beautiful smooth sand that makes up the three miles of Portmarnock Strand.
The beach here is backed by sand dunes which lead onto the Portmarnock Championship golf course. These dunes are an important natural feature and are home to a variety of flora and fauna.
Portmarnock beach has been the starting point for two pioneering flights. The…
10. Murder Hole Beach, County Donegal©
A very unattractive name for one of Ireland's most beautiful beaches! We'll explain that later but first the details.
Otherwise known as Boyeeghter Bay this remote beach is easily recognised by its two sandy crescents separated by a rocky bluff. Just off the shore is the little islet of Rough Island. When the tide is out the sand joins up to form a single stretch of sand.
The Murder Hole is located in a secluded corner of the Rosguill Peninsula in the far north of Ireland,…
11. Silver Strand Beach, County Donegal© Robert Bone | BY-SA
Set at the foot of 175 steps in a horseshoe shaped bay, Silver Strand is one of the true gems of the Donegal coast. A beautiful stretch of pristine sand flanked by sheer cliffs, the water here is a crystal clear turquoise that wouldn't look out of place in the Caribbean.
Despite being located on the tip of the westernmost peninsula of County Donegal, jutting into the Atlantic Ocean, Silver Strand manages to remain fairly sheltered in its deep-set bay. The sand here slopes gently and remains…
12. Dog’s Bay, County Galway© Bernhard
White sand, clear turquoise-blue waters and the occasional bit of sunshine - you'd almost think you were in the Caribbean and not Connemara on the west coast of Ireland! Without doubt this lengthy crescent of pristine sand is one of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland.
There is a reason the sand here is so white, and that is because it is made up of tiny fragments of seashells. This is also the reason the water is so clear and blue as there is no sediment and the whiteness of the sea…
13. Coumeenoole Bay, County Kerry© Pam Brophy | BY-SA
Set just to the south of Dunmore Head, the westernmost point in mainland Ireland, is Coumeenoole beach. There are few more dramatic locations than this with the headland rising up to one side, the Blasket Islands only a couple of kilometres off the coast and the full force of the Atlantic Ocean slamming straight into the beach.
The beach lies at the very tip of the Dingle Peninsula and is a popular spot to stop on the Slea Head drive - one of Ireland's most scenic drives. Coumeenoole…
14. Silver Strand Beach, County Mayo© Keith Salvesen | BY-SA
The pristine sands of County Mayo's Silver Strand are just about remote enough to keep the crowds at bay. Set near the mouth the Killary Fjord it isn't actually that difficult to get here but thankfully this beautiful beach manages to stay just under the radar.
The beach here somewhat lives up to its name with an expanse of pale sand bordered by dunes and craggy rock headlands, which offer some shelter from the breeze. It is only when the sun comes out that you'll really appreciate the…
15. Glassilaun Bay, County Galway© Keith Salvesen | BY-SA
Glassilaun Bay is yet another gem set within Connemara on Galway's west coast. A tight crescent of soft white sand, the beach faces into the relatively sheltered, crystal clear waters just south of the mouth of the Killary Fjord.
To one end of the beach is a low grassy headland whilst at the other are a clutch of grass-topped islands. Behind the beach are dunes and yet more grass but beyond this things take a turn for the more dramatic with the hulking form of Mweelrea rising 814 metres…