Keem Bay, County Mayo

Keem Bay, County Mayo

If you’re looking for showstopping scenery, the aquamarine-tinted waters of County Mayo's Keem Bay are sure to stop you in your tracks

Tucked into the scenic coast of Achill Island, the secluded paradise of Keem Bay is guarded by cliffs either side, offering magnificent views of the horseshoe-shaped bay, below. Whether the sun is cracking the stones or the air is crisp with winter’s chill, this stunning landscape is sure to leave you speechless.

Keem Strand
Keem Strand

Captivating Keem Strand

Achill boasts five Blue Flag beaches alone – a voluntary eco-label awarded to beaches that tick all the boxes for quality and cleanliness – and one of the best is Keem Strand. The strand lies within Keem Bay, a heavenly, secluded valley at the very western tip of the island. During warmer months, the strand is a magnet for beach-goers and, when it gets cooler, it’s ideal for laid-back walks. You'll enjoy the views getting there from the stunning cliff-top road, and there’s a car park close to the beach itself.

Sheep overlooking Keem Bay
Sheep overlooking Keem Bay

Trails and treasures

The horseshoe-shaped bay is bordered by cliffs and there’s a breathtaking 1.5km (0.9 mile) walk along the top of the cliffs of Benmore towards Achill Head, the most westerly point of the island. On the other side of the bay lies Bunowna, which is now a deserted village. The reasons for its abandonment remain unknown but it was used as a "booley" – a place where people lived in summer to graze cattle on the side of Slievemore Mountain. Wander among the vacant cottages to get a sense of what life was like in years gone by, or opt for a guided tour run by Achill Archaeological Field School.

Currach fishing boat, Keem Bay © Shutterstock
Currach fishing boat, Keem Bay © Shutterstock

Going fishing

Keem Bay once had a booming fishing industry and waters used to be filled with traditional fishing boats called "currachs". It’s thought that artist Paul Henry visited the beach when painting his famous work Launching the Currach, which now hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin. Continue exploring Achill Island by following the Atlantic Drive, which will lead you to villages such as Shraheens, Ashleam, Derreens and Cloughmore, along with many more outstanding spots on the island.

Kayaking, Keem Bay
Kayaking, Keem Bay

A kayaker's paradise

Who could resist taking to the water with such breathtaking natural scenery to enjoy? During the summer months, nature lovers can take in the majesty of Keem Bay with a guided kayaking tour with Achill Surf Education & Adventure Centre. Experienced kayakers will paddle past beautiful Keem Strand and its vibrant blue waters by Croaghaun Sea Cliffs – some of the highest in Europe. With the salty sea air in your face and the chatter of seabirds overhead, it’s a truly magical experience.

Beginners can test their skills on a kayaking adventure around Keel Lake – a picturesque sandy lake overlooked by majestic Slievemore and the craggy Minaun Sea Cliffs. Glide along the waters of this tranquil lake and watch nature unfold around you. Pure bliss.

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