Ballymastocker Bay (Portsalon)

Ballymastocker Bay - County Donegal
© Kenneth Allen and licensed for reuse under this Licence

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, while the golden sands stretch for over a mile. The beach slopes gently towards the Atlantic Ocean. 

It’s hard to beat this location for peace and tranquillity (except on very sunny days in summer). The beach lies in between Fanad Head and Rathmullan and there are fabulous views over the Inishowen Peninsula. 

The bay has some moorings and an anchorage; there are no fees for anchoring or berthing, and dinghies can also land here. The bay is protected by rugged cliffs, offering shelter from the worst westerly winds, but the easterly winds blowing in over the Lough can occasionally be fierce. 

Lifeguards are on duty between June and September between 12 noon and 6.30pm, but the Atlantic can be wild even in summer even in spots as safe as this one so visitors are advised to take care. 

Parking is very good, although high summer season can be busy. The beach itself has no facilities, but there is a small café, bar, and grocery shop by the stone pier of the tiny hamlet of Portsalon.

Also known as:


Type of beach


Lifeguard service


Dogs friendly beach?

Dogs must be on a leash and droppings removed.

County Donegal dog friendly beaches »


  • Swimming/bathing


  • Cafe/restaurant
  • Toilets
  • Town centre nearby
  • Shop

Nearest town


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Blue Flag Award

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Ballymastocker Bay Reviews

Aug 08th 2020

A beach of my childhood and rarely equaled since. The partial shelter from the Atlantic of the Lough Swilly location gives classically shaped waves. There are some small caves in the shore rocks to explore, small burns to dam and if memory serves me the legend of a Spanish Galleon wrecked off the headland noteven to mention that view of it from the coast road when approaching from the SE. A perfect family strand really.

Mar 02nd 2020

Fantastic, long sandy beach with sand dunes and great scenery