Last updated on February 6, 2024
What do you prefer, cliffs or beaches? You don’t have to choose, Ireland has plenty of both!
Today we’re talking about the beaches along the Wild Atlantic Way: fine sandy beaches, shingle beaches, beaches made of crushed shells, kilometres of flat beaches and the smallest beaches nestling between the rocks.
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You’ll find beaches where you can take a midday nap, beaches where you can take off your motorbike boots and play with your toes in the sand, beaches where you can swim and beaches that are simply beautiful because of their unique location.
Especially in the north of Ireland there are beaches with really white, fine sand and in front of it azure and very clear water – you think you are in the South Seas and not in Europe!
To list all the beaches on the Wild Atlantic Way would go beyond the scope of this article, so I’ll try to concentrate on the particularly beautiful beaches.
By the way, you can very easily look up all the named beaches on Google Maps and check if the locations fit your planned tour.
How do I know them? From my own motorbike trips in Ireland. My family and I have our second home in Ireland and I run a motorbike rental business there in the summer months, see: www.easycruiser.tours. We also offer nice guest rooms (www.the-view-accommodation.ie).
1 Five Finger Strand
On the Malin Head peninsula, in the far north of Ireland, lies this very special beach. You think you are at the mouth of a river, but in fact the beach is in front of a bay, with a narrow passage to the sea. Behind the long sandy beach are high sand dunes and in front of them are flat sandbanks. In the background you can see mountains – just beautiful.
2 Pollan Beach
Just a short distance from Five Finger Beach you will find Pollan Beach. It is a shallow, very long beach. It’s not all sand, there’s a bit of shingle too, but it’s perfect for a long beach walk.
3 Ballymastocker Beach
Near Portsalon is this wonderful crescent-shaped everlasting sandy beach. You want to know what it looks like? Then take another look at the cover picture at the beginning of this article!
4 Murder Hole Beach
The Murder Hole is a rock with a large hole, or cave, on the sandy beach. This is where smugglers and other crooks used to land their boats. The beach is beautifully surrounded by rocks – this would be a great setting for a pirate movie!
5 Tramore Beach (Co. Donegal)
This is a long beautiful sandy beach neighbouring Magheraroarty Beach. You can get to the beach from Castlebane.
6 Magheraroarty Beach
Another very long, beautiful, crescent-shaped sandy beach. You can park right at the Tory ferry pier.
7 Maghera Beach and the Caves of Maghera
Near Ardara lies this gem. Maghera Beach is famous because there are caves in the rocks, the Caves of Maghera. They are only accessible at low tide and you should be aware of this because the tidal currents are particularly strong here. Nearby is the Assaranca Waterfall.
8 Silver Strand (Co. Donegal)
Near Malin Beg lies this small beach. A small semicircle between the green hills. And in good light it really does look silvery!
9 Mullaghmore Beach
This is a long and very wide sandy beach. It lies directly at Mullaghmore and is a popular bathing beach.
10 Keel Beach
Let’s move on to one of my favourite islands/peninsulas. Achill Island is actually an island, but easily accessible via a small bridge. The main town is Keel, which is also a popular holiday resort. There you will find a long beautiful sandy beach with high cliffs in the background – very impressive!
11 Keem Beach
When you come to Achill Island, be sure (!) to take the small road over the mountain to Keem Bay. There you will find the small Keem Beach, again with high mountains in the background. The location is beautiful and the scenery with high cliffs just gorgeous!
12 Silver Strand (Co. Mayo)
There is also a Silver Strand in County Mayo. It is located at the mouth of Killary Fjord, the only fjord in Ireland. The fjord and the whole area are super beautiful!
13 Traumstrand (Dream Beach)
Yes, it really is called that, it’s not a translation! Connemara is fantastically beautiful. On a very remote tip, where seagull and sheep say goodnight to each other, lies the dream beach. Not many tourists will find it, and if you want to take in the lonely and rugged beauty of Connemara, then look for it! By the way, the next town is called Ballyconneely.
14 Dog`s Bay and Gurteen Beach
A little further on, also in Connemara, are these two beaches. Basically it is a big sandbank leading onto a peninsula. It will be busier here, but it is still beautiful. The place on the beach is called Errisbeg.
15 Coral Beach
Small beautiful beach with lots of rocks not far from Carraroe North. On the beach you will find many crushed fragments that look like they are from coral. In fact, they are from a hard type of seaweed called maerl.
16 Fanore Beach
At the southern end of Galway Bay, a beautiful coastal road, the R477, runs around Black Head Lighthouse. A little to the south is Fanore and Fanore Beach. It’s amazing that there’s a beach here at all, as the Burren is otherwise barren and rocky – and very beautiful in a very special way.
17 Lahinch Beach
Lahinch is a seaside and holiday resort not far from the Cliffs of Moher. It has a large long sandy beach and plenty of food and drink too.
18 Doughmore Beach
Between Doughmore and Doonbeg is this beautiful, long crescent-shaped sandy beach with dunes in the background.
19 Banna Beach
I don’t know how long this sandy beach with dunes really is, but it will be several kilometres – really! After Tralee is Banna and there you will find this bathing dream.
20 Stradbally Bay Beach
The name says it all: Stradbally Bay stretches for several kilometres along the north coast of the Dingle Peninsula – and most of it is a huge sandy beach!
21 Inch Beach
This is also great beach: Inch Beach is located on the south side of the Dingle Peninsula. A long finger of sand sweeps into the bay. There is a cool surfer café and you can watch the surfers. In the background of the bay you can see the high mountains of Kerry. It’s a great atmosphere!
22 Derrynane Beach
At the tip of the Ring of Kerry you will find the village of Derrynane. There is a sandy beach nestled into the rocks. On the small peninsula at the end of the beach are the remains of an old monastery. There are also a few sand dunes. Very special location.
23 Barley Cove Beach
Close to Mizen Head Signal Station is this small beach. Fun detail: There is a long floating jetty on which you can walk across the small cove.
25 Red Strand Beach
On the south coast near Galley Head lighthouse you will find several beaches, including this small but fine sandy beach in a pretty location in a small bay. You can even see the lighthouse from the beach.
Yes, ok, this has become longer than I thought….as is often the case. But it’s really beautiful there and I don’t want to deprive you of anything!
So, hopefully now you have some inspiration for your motorbike holiday in Ireland and if you still need a rental bike, you can find us here: www.easycruiser.tours.
Happy planning and have a great motorbike trip in Ireland!
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Photo credits cover photo:Motorcycle at the viewpoint overlooking Ballymastocker Beach, photo by Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg (www.easycruiser.tours, www.the-view-accommodation.ie, www.irland-insider.de, www.ireland-insider.com)