10 Great Beaches on the Wild Atlantic Way


Take a break on one of the Wild Atlantic Way’s majestic beaches. Here are 10 to try…



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. Here are 10 to try…


  1. Dogs Bay, 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.


  1. Fanore, 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 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 just a village of the same name with a shop, pub and coffeeshop and the village of Ballyvaughan is around 15km away.



  1. 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 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.


  1. 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 is located at the base of one of the highest accessible sea cliffs in Europe, it is reached by over 170 steps,


  1. Enniscrone, County Sligo
Aerial of Enniscrone Beach and Village, Co. Sligo


Enniscrone Beach in 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.



  1. 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.


  1. Derrynane, 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.


  1. Barleycove, 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.


Derrynane 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.


  1. 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 here 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).



  1. 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.


C/O Tourism Media