Most Beautiful Beaches in Northern Ireland

Last updated:

Below are a list of the best and most beautiful 15 beaches in Northern Ireland as selected by the users of the Beach Guide website.

The current top-rated beach in Northern Ireland is Whiterocks Beach. If you would like to have your say on which are the best beaches in Northern Ireland just follow the link to the beach and vote by clicking the star ratings at the top right of the page.

  • 1. Whiterocks Beach, County Antrim

    Whiterocks Beach © Albert Bridge | BY-SA

    Whiterocks is a two mile stretch of sandy beach starting (or ends) in Portrush at the East Strand beach. The height of the waves makes Whiterocks popular with water sports enthusiasts, including anglers, bodyboarders, surfers, and surf kayakers. Equipment can be hired in season. There is an RNLI Lifeguard Service from 11am to 7pm from mid-June and during July and August, and weekends only in May and June. The dunes are very high, offering good sledding opportunities.

    The beach is accessed…

  • 2. Downhill Strand Beach, County Londonderry

    Downhill Strand © Kenneth Allen

    Downhill Strand beach forms the eastern end of a magnificent 7 mile (11km) stretch of sand and surf centred on the town of Castlerock. The beach at Downhill runs from just west of Castlerock to Magilligan Point.

    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…

  • 3. The Strand Portstewart Beach, County Londonderry

    The Strand Portstewart © Des Colhoun | BY-SA

    Widely regarded as one of the best beaches in Northern Ireland, Portstewart Strand is a long sandy beach perfect for sand castles, beach games, and picnicking. It stretches for two miles and is popular with walkers, surfers, horse-riders and bird watchers.

    The views from this beach are stunning, including the Mussenden Temple, high on one of the nearby cliffs. This beach is the start – or end – of the Causeway Coast Way. Items dating back to the Neolithic age have been found in the area,…

  • 4. Ballygally Beach, County Antrim

    Ballygally © Anne Burgess | BY-SA

    Ballygally is a fairly small, sandy beach that is popular with both locals and tourists who come here to enjoy a paddle during the summer months and for fishing during the rest of the year. This is also 'Game of Thrones' country with some scenes being filmed around this area of the County Antrim coast. At the western end of the beach, a small stream runs into the sea and the beach becomes rockier. Young explorers may enjoy searching in the rock pools for marine wildlife. In the village centre there…

  • 5. Runkerry Beach (Portballintrae), County Antrim

    Runkerry Beach © Kenneth Allen | BY-SA

    Set just around the corner from the Giant's Causeway, Runkerry Strand is a wonderfully wild crescent of golden sand. The beach stretches for around 400 metres from the mouth of the River Bush towards Runkerry Point.

    Runkerry beach is possibly the most exposed on the Northern Ireland coast. This is great news for surfers as there are nearly always waves here. It isn't such good news if you fancy a dip as the currents can be particularly fierce. If you do want to swim we'd recommend Whiterocks…

  • 6. Murlough Beach, County Down

    Murlough © Paul Mcilroy | BY-SA

    Murlough is a vast, five-mile long, golden sand beach, nestling under the beautiful Mourne Mountains.  The winds along this stretch of the coast can be strong, making it a popular place for surfing, kite surfing, and windsurfing. However, the main attraction of the area is walking, either along the beautiful sandy beach, or amongst the sand dunes. 

    Behind the beach, Murlough Nature Reserve, a 6000 year old system of dunes is renowned for its wildlife, being home to a diverse range…

  • 7. Whitepark Bay, County Antrim

    Whitepark Bay © Anne Burgess | BY-SA

    Magnificent arc of white sand between two headlands on a relatively secluded stretch of the North Antrim Coast. The headlands provide some shelter from prevailing winds and on the right conditions this is a popular spot with surfers.

    The beach and locale are a haven for wildlife with the dunes behind the beach teeming with wild flowers in the summer months. White Park Bay and much of the nearby coast are under the stewardship of the National Trust.

    Please note, the beach is unsafe…

  • 8. Benone Beach, County Londonderry

    Benone Beach © John.purvis

    Magilligan Strand is a seven-mile stretch of sand backed by one of the largest dune systems in the UK. Popular with surfers, swimmers and walkers, the beach forms part of a local Nature Reserve.

    There is a cafe, a caravan park and a supervised paddling pool. Boardwalks offer access through the dunes.

  • 9. Tyrella Beach (Clough), County Down

    Tyrella Beach (Clough) © Rod Allday | BY-SA

    The flat, wide, sandy beach of Tyrella in Downpatrick, County Down, is an enclosed two kilometre complex of dunes within Dundrum Bay. It backs on to 25 hectares of mature dunes located in a conservation area. There are pleasant scenic walks nearby, and the area is known as a haven for local fauna and flora. From Tyrella there are stunning views of the mountains of Mourne.

    Despite being slightly off the beaten track, the beach can get surprisingly busy at peak times, particularly bank holidays…

  • 10. Helens Bay, County Down

    Helens Bay © Eric Jones | BY-SA

    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 after the construction of the Belfast and County Down Railway, with aspirations of becoming a luxury holiday resort for visitors from the city. The closest city is Bangor, but it is also close to Belfast, making it very popular with day trippers. 
    The railway station is only about 500 meters from the beach. 

    The sands shelve gently into the sea and…

  • 11. Brown's Bay, County Antrim

    Brown's Bay © Robert Ashby | BY-SA

    Brown's Bay is a sandy, crescent-shaped beach sitting at the northern end of County Antrim's Islandmagee Peninsula.

    The beach is slightly over 300 metres in length with a crossable stream running down the middle and into the bay. Thanks to its sheltered location, the water is calm and a good place to go swimming during the warmer summer months.

    The beach offers excellent rural views, with the mountainous Antrim countryside visible on the horizon to the north west. Behind the beach…

  • 12. Warrenpoint Beach, County Down

    Warrenpoint © Oliver Dixon

    Warrenpoint Beach lies on the shores of Carlingford Loch, where the Clanrye River and Newry Canal enter the sea.  The views over the mouth of the loch and the scenic Mourne Mountains make this a beautiful location.

    The shingle beach slopes gently into the water and the beach is known for its many organised watersport activities.  Jet skiing, kayaking , banana boating and more can all be enjoyed from the water's edge.  The area is also very popular with walkers.


  • 13. Cushendun Beach, County Antrim

    Cushendun © Eric Jones | BY-SA

    This sandy, rural beach is set on a gently curving bay and is backed by the charming village of Cushendun.  Many of the picturesque buildings in the village, some of which are managed by the National Trust, have a distinctly Cornish feel to them, having been designed this way to please the wife of a local landowner, who came from Penzance. 

    On clear days there are views across to the Mull of Kintyre, which is a mere 15 miles away.

    The Glendun River enters the sea in…

  • 14. Cloughey Bay, County Down

    Cloughey Bay © Eric Jones

    Cloughey Bay beach is a somewhat undiscovered gem with its expanse of fine golden sand. The long crescent of beach stretches for around 1.5 miles along the east coast of the Ard Peninsula on Northern Ireland's east coast. The bay faces south eastwards, out into the relative shelter of the Irish Sea. There is also a long spit of sand and stone to the north of the beach which gives added protection from the swells.

    Running along much of the back of the beach are sand dunes. These are designated…

  • 15. Knockinelder Bay, County Down

    Knockinelder Bay © Eric Jones | BY-SA

    Knockinelder Bay is a good-sized crescent of sand and shingle towards the southern end of the Ards Peninsula. The beach here is sometimes referred to as Kearney after the 18th-century fishing village here.

    The tidal range is quite large at Knockinelder and whilst the beach can be reduced to a narrow shingle strip at high tide, low tide reveals an expanse of firm flat sand. This makes it ideal for the local stables to bring their horses for a morning gallop.

    On higher tides Knockinelder…

  • 16. Rathlin Island Beach, County Antrim

    Rathlin Island © Mike Faherty | BY-SA

    Less than 10 kilometres off Ballycastle, on the north coast of County Antrim, is the "L" shaped Rathlin Island. Measuring a modest 9.7km in length this rugged little island is home to a couple of sandy beaches.

    The easiest of these to get to for most visitors is Church Bay which sits within the shelter of the breakwaters that protect the harbour. This beach is named after St Thomas' church which lies on the edge of the water to the north of the harbour.

    With a crescent of coarse sand,…