With the weather picking up this week, a list of Ireland's best beaches is sure to be of interest.
As a country, we are lucky. Blessed with a natural landscape that would put any tropical island to shame – not to mention views that could bring you to tears.
However, many of us still wish for sunnier days on the beaches of the Mediterranean, rather than on the coasts of Éire.
And yes, we know, it’s our climate and there is a higher chance of us winning the Euromillions than being guaranteed one solid week of good weather – but optimism has never hurt anybody.
This list comprises Ireland’s 10 best beaches based on the travellers who have visited them and the praise they have given. Co Kerry takes six of the spots on the list, while Sligo, Dublin, Cork and Clare also have some of their heavenly havens included.
Many of these best beaches mentioned are located in or near country towns and communities, and their inclusion on lists such as this one can provide them with boundless opportunities.
So, why should you visit these beaches?
1. Inchydoney Beach, Co Cork
It goes without saying that West Cork is a feast for the senses, and Inchydoney Beach in Clonakilty is no exception. One of the most family-friendly beaches in Ireland and also one of the most beautiful, it’s no surprise that it was voted as Ireland’s best beach back in 2019.
A few short miles from the beach lies the bustling town of Clonakilty, which is Ireland’s first autism-friendly town. There is an abundance of activities on offer, from visiting the Michael Collins Heritage Centre to the Clonakilty Park Adventure Centre. Clonakilty is also a well-known foodie town with a weekly market and delicious restaurants such as the Copper Pot and Richys Restaurant.
2. Banna Strand, Co Kerry
Defined by history and dazzling scenery, Banna Strand is a jewel in the crown that is the kingdom of Kerry. A 10-minute drive from the town of Tralee, it was on the lonely Banna Strand that Roger Casement was captured by British forces after attempting to smuggle land arms for Irish republicans in 1916.
Tralee town itself is famous for the Rose of Tralee, an atmospheric event that brings revellers from all over the world. The town is a great place for a night out, has some fabulous shops and boutiques and provides some of the best food choices in the county with Cassidy’s restaurant and The Roast House.
3. Inch Beach, Co. Kerry
Surrounded by rolling hills and spanning five kilometres, Inch Beach is a slice of paradise in the most unexpected of places. Lying between Dingle Bay and Castlemaine Harbour, it is also watersport heaven with surfing, kayaking, windsurfing, kite surfing, hang gliding and fishing all popular activities on the beach.
Its untouched beauty means it was no surprise that it was the location for the Hollywood film Ryan’s Daughter. The town of Dingle is only a short drive away and it’s a town you’ll never want to leave. You will be sucked in by the warmth of Dick Mack’s and the delicious seafood delicacies of Doyle’s.
4. Strandhill Beach, Co Sligo
Strandhill is a vibrant seaside village in Co Sligo that contains a beach which is said to be one of the best places in Europe to surf. And if that isn’t enough to get you to hop into your car immediately, the village also boasts some beautiful restaurants and bars such as Shells Cafe and The Stand Bar. Strandhill Golf Club is only a stone’s throw away and Sligo town is a short drive from the beach itself.
5. Derrynane Beach, Co Kerry
Derrynane Beach in Caherdaniel is a hidden gem and is must-see if you find yourself travelling the picture-perfect Ring of Kerry. The perfect mix of sandy beach and ruggedness, it lies two miles away from the village of Caherdaniel and the historic Derrynane Abbey & Burialground and Derrynane House, the home of Daniel O’Connell.
6. Coumeenoole Beach, Co Kerry
Situated on the Slea Head Drive outside of Dingle town, this beach which lies against the backdrop of rugged hills is breathtaking. It’s a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ type of place, but is worth the search and drive. So, when you get there, take a deep breath and drink it all in.
7. Lahinch Beach, Co. Clare
This beach is famous for its surf and golden sand – and the buzz of the town isn’t bad either. The town also boasts a championship golf course which means the golfers are kept happy too. From shops, eateries, restaurants and some great pubs such as Flanagan’s; there is something for everyone.
8. Rossbeigh Beach, Co Kerry
Situated on the Ring of Kerry on the Iveragh Peninsula, this blue flag beach is like something from a postcard. Kerry has the power to make you emotional sometimes, and the rough terrain mixed with the sheer solace of the sea is a powerful thing and Rossbeigh carries this in spades. Only 1.6 kilometres from the beautiful village of Glenbeigh, and a 40-minute drive from Killarney, it should be a definite on your list if you find yourself in Kerry for a weekend.
9. Ladies Beach, Ballybunion, Co Kerry
Ask your parents or grandparents and no doubt the seaside town of Ballybunion will receive a mention. A walk on Ballybunion beach is good for the soul. Overlooking the Atlantic and shadowed by jugged cliffs and the ruins of the castle, it’s a place that can cure all woes.
Ballybunion town has suffered from changing economic climates and rural decline, but there’s vitality in the town that deserves to be recognised. Some great restaurants such as the Marina and Daroka line the streets and Mikey Joes is the place for a few drinks. And with a renowned golf course in its centre, it’s a no-brainer for a trip away.
10. Portmarnock Beach, Dublin
Portmarnock Beach is five miles long and stretches all the way to Baldoyle and adjoins Malahide Beach. Stunning views of the Dublin Mountains and Howth Harbour surround it meaning it’s the perfect getaway from city life that you don’t have to get on a plane for. Awarded the International Blue Flag Beach Award and Green Coast Award back in 2018, make sure to put this place on your list.