Great spots for wild swimming on the island of Ireland

Take a deep breath and dive into a wild swimming adventure on the island of Ireland, where ocean waves and lapping loughs offer the most scenic of plunge pools.


What can beat an invigorating swim in open waters, other than one surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. Here are nine to tempt you.

1 Keem Bay, Achill Island, County Mayo

Keem Bay was named the number one wild swimming spot in the UK and Ireland and it’s easy to see why. The beautiful golden sandy beach sits at the feet of rugged terrain and is washed by clear Atlantic waters. The beach also played a supporting role in the award-winning movie, The Banshees of Inisherin.

2 Carlingford Lough, County Louth

This glacial fjord is the ultimate icy dip but the views of the majestic Mourne Mountains, which inspired C S Lewis’s Narnia, are equally breathtaking. It’s one for a wetsuit but afterwards you can warm up in a cosy café in the medieval town of Carlingford.

3 Ballintoy Harbour, County Antrim

There are loads of great wild swimming places along the gorgeous Causeway Coast but a favourite of the local wild swimming community is a secluded beach next to Ballintoy Harbour, where the clear waters are sheltered by basalt islands. The harbour itself is now best known as a shoot location for Game of Thrones in which it featured as the Iron Islands.

4 Mountshannon, Lough Derg, County Clare

The calm, sparkling waters of Lough Derg are perfect for a swim and one of the best places to access them is from Mountshannon beach. The lough is part of Blueways Ireland, a network of trails alongside the lakes, canals and rivers of the scenic Hidden Heartlands.

5 Portsalon Beach, County Donegal

Portsalon Beach on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is a secluded 1.5km stretch of golden sandy beach that was voted the second most beautiful beach in the world. It is just one of many first-class beaches and swimming spots in the county. Other gems include Carrickfinn and Portnoo.

6 Lough Erne, County Fermanagh

Gorgeous Lough Erne in the Fermanagh Lakelands offers plenty of wild swimming opportunities. You can seek out a gentle shoreline and step into the water or take advantage of the many jetties to climb down or dive into deeper waters.

7 Killary Fjord, County Galway

Dramatic mountain scenery hugs this sheltered fjord where the waters are always calm. To make the experience even more magical you might encounter dolphins and seals as you swim. For those who relish a challenge, why not sign up for the Gaelforce Great Fjord Swim.

8 Helen’s Bay, County Down

Helen’s Bay Beach on the edge of Belfast Lough is a popular spot for wild swimming and is a short drive from Belfast city. It’s one of two first-rate beaches found on the edge of Crawfordsburn Country Park, which, with its meadows and wooded glens, is also a great place for a walk.

9 Poll Gorm, County Sligo

Poll Gorm is a natural saltwater swimming pool formed by rocks and a purpose-built wall. It’s the perfect way to sample a swim in the Atlantic Ocean but with still clear waters rather than unpredictable waves.