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My Ireland

Looking for inspiration? Planning a trip? Or just want to scroll yourself happy? We'll show you an Ireland that's tailor-made for you.

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    Keem Beach Co Mayomaster Keem Beach Co Mayomaster

    10 great beaches on the Wild Atlantic Way

    The Wild Atlantic Way boasts some of the most spectacular beaches in Europe. Arlene Harris picks 10 to try…

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    Wild Atlantic Way
    Wild Atlantic Way
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    star-wars-last-jedi-malin-head-county-donegal star-wars-last-jedi-malin-head-county-donegal

    Scalloped-shaped beaches lapped by crystal clear waters, endless strands pounded by the crash of frothy Atlantic waves, pebbly shorelines with majestic views – beaches along the Wild Atlantic Way are as varied as they are beautiful. Stretching from County Cork to County Donegal, along 2,500km of coastline, you’ll find a stunning array of beaches that can be enjoyed all year round.

    Dogs Bay Beach Dogs Bay Beach

    Dog's Bay Beach, County Galway © Gareth McCormack

    1. Dog's Bay Beach, County Galway

    The picture-postcard village of Roundstone will appeal to anyone wanting an authentic Connemara experience – not least because of its stunning beaches. Dog’s Bay, a horseshoe-shaped strand just 3km from the village, is surrounded by a grassy bank where, during the summer, neighbourhood cattle often come to graze and gaze at people on the white sands below.

    The bay shelves gradually, making it a safe spot for swimmers and just across a narrow spit of sand is Gurteen Beach, a beautifully sheltered spot that offers another option for those seeking more space to relax. After a walk or a swim, the village of Roundstone is a perfect place to recharge with its excellent seafood and traditional pubs.

    Fanore Beach Fanore Beach

    Fanore Beach, County Clare © Clare County Council

    2. Fanore Beach, County Clare

    Backed by the stark limestone plateau of the Burren in County Clare, the soft, butter-coloured dunes of Fanore Beach give way to a beautiful stretch of sand that seems to stretch on for miles at low tide. This is Fanore Beach.

    Amazingly, archaeologists have found evidence of human life dating back over 6,000 years among the dunes and coastal rocks at Fanore, and today the strand is still a popular spot for swimming, walking and relaxing. Nearby, you’ll find a village of the same name with a shop, pub and coffeeshop and the village of Ballyvaughan is around 15km away.

    Inch Beach Inch Beach

    Inch Beach, County Kerry

    3. Inch Beach, County Kerry

    Despite what the name might suggest, Inch beach is actually 5km long and stretches into Dingle Bay, offering incredible views across the Atlantic and of Macgillycuddy’s Reeks in the distance. The golden sands were immortalised in the film Ryan’s Daughter and are a magnet for swimmers, surfers and walkers.

    For those who want to watch the world go by over a coffee, Sammy’s Restaurant is conveniently located at the beach and anyone wishing to maximise their experience can book into Gleann Dearg cottages and fall asleep to the sound of the ocean.

    Silver Strand Silver Strand

    Silver Strand, County Donegal © Peter Maguire

    4. Silver Strand, County Donegal

    If it’s privacy you’re after, then you can’t get much more secluded than Silver Strand/Malin Beg, located just past Glencolmcille at the very tip of the Slieve League Peninsula in County Donegal. Arguably one of the most beautiful spots along the Wild Atlantic Way, it may be a bit remote, but the views across the ocean more than make up for it.

    A popular spot for swimming, it’s located at the base of one of the highest accessible sea cliffs in Europe and is reached by over 170 steps.

    Enniscrone Beach Enniscrone Beach

    Enniscrone Beach, County Sligo

    5. Enniscrone Beach, County Sligo

    Enniscrone Beach in County Sligo is not only accessible to all, but was the first beach in the county to provide a beach wheelchair, which can be booked, free of charge, through the Seventh Wave Surf School.

    The flat, even sands, which stretch on for 5km, and glorious surrounding scenery, make it an ideal place for walks, but over recent years it’s become a popular place with surfers, too. For something a little more relaxing, there’s the Enniscrone Traditional Hot Seaweed Baths, which continues a tradition of therapeutic seafood bathing that dates back to 1912.

    Keem Beach Keem Beach

    Keem Bay, County Mayo

    6. Keem Bay, County Mayo

    Possibly one of the most photogenic beaches on the island of Ireland, Keem Bay is just as gorgeous in real life as it appears in pictures. With sparkling blue waters and white, powdery sand, the sheltered bay makes it a great place to swim, but kayaking and snorkelling are also popular with both Keem Adventures and Blackfield Surf School.

    Further from shore, basking sharks are regular summer visitors and anyone wanting to get a closer look at these gentle giants can take a boat trip with Achill Seascape.

    For those who prefer to stay dry, there is a 5.6km walking loop which offers spectacular views of both the bay and nearby Croaghaun Mountain.

    Derrynane Beach Derrynane Beach

    Derrynane Beach, County Kerry

    7. Derrynane Beach, County Kerry

    Located on the Ring of Kerry, close to the small village of Caherdaniel, Derrynane beach is breathtakingly beautiful. Set across a backdrop of sheltered sand dunes, the ruins of Derrynane Abbey and rolling green hills, it is the perfect place to get away from it all – for a walk, picnic, or simply to while away an afternoon in meditative bliss.

    While it’s not suitable for swimming, it is a mecca for scuba divers and is home to Ireland’s first scuba diving looped trail offering underwater adventurers an insight into a magical watery world.

    History buffs may also enjoy the association with one of Ireland’s most famous political leaders, Daniel O’Connell who was born at nearby Derrynane House.

    Barley Cove Beach Barley Cove Beach

    Barleycove, County Cork

    8. Barleycove Beach, County Cork

    Located on Mizen Head, with unrivalled views of the peninsula, Barleycove is one of the most southerly beaches on the island of Ireland. Blessed with white sands and clear waters, it is surrounded by rugged cliffs and grassy dunes, making it the perfect spot to relax on a warm summer’s day.

    Barleycove is a Blue Flag beach and is very popular with swimmers, surfers, kayakers and families, so for those looking for a peaceful spot, it is best visited out of season. The surrounding grasslands have been designated a Special Area of Conservation, making it the perfect place to spot local wildlife.

    Coral Strand Coral Strand

    Trá an Dóilín, County Galway © Failte Ireland

    9. Trá an Dóilín, County Galway

    With beautiful white sand and crystal clear waters, Trá an Dóilín or “Coral Strand” might look like your average idyllic County Galway beach, but it offers something a little bit different. The sand here is actually not sand at all, and instead is made up of tiny, crunchy mineral deposits of algae, which give it the look of pinkish coral.

    The gentle turquoise waters make it a popular place for snorkelling and swimming, but most come to enjoy the views of the nearby islands, the rugged coastline and the relaxed atmosphere of the Connemara Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area).

    Kinnagoe Bay Kinnagoe Bay

    Kinnagoe Bay, County Donegal

    10. Kinnagoe Bay, County Donegal

    Randomly pick any beach in Donegal and you won’t be disappointed – the county is famous for its stunning strands – but Kinnagoe Bay on the Inishowen Peninsula is particularly special. Sandy and secluded, it is surrounded by steeply sloping hills and boasts crystal blue waters that make it feel like a tropical paradise on sunny days.

    There is history here too… Kinnagoe Bay is where the Armada ship La Trinidad Valencera was wrecked in 1588, and it’s a popular spot with divers today. The path down to the beach is steep, and it’s a favoured spot in summer so if you’re looking for the best Kinnagoe experience, then we recommend visiting in autumn, when you’re likely to have it all to yourself.