Glassiliaun Beach, County Galway, Ireland

Iteland isn’t always the best place to top up your tan in the summer. But for those of you who like your beaches windswept and interesting we’ve got a selection of Ireland’s best beaches that should be on anyone’s travel list.

Glassilaun Beach

Glassiliaun Beach, County Galway, Ireland
Glassiliaun Beach, County Galway, Ireland

The region of Connemara in Galway County offers some jaw-dropping scenary. Nowehere more so than Killary Fjord and the road past Lough Inagh that takes you there.

But when you hit the fjord, take a hard left and head out to its western tip. There you’ll find Glassilaun Beach. In what feels like the end of the world, you’ll find clean white sands and crystal clear waters against a backdrop of green mountains that would give even The Quiet Man something to talk about.

Quite simply it’s one of Ireland’s best beaches. And the views out to sea aren’t bad either with islets and pensinsulas dotting the seascape. You could spend hours here dipping your feet in the fresh waters and staring idly out to sea.

Go. Just don’t expect an ice cream when you get there.

Dog’s Bay/Gurteen Bay

Head down to the southern edge of Connamera and you’ll find another fine example of soft, white sand, and crystal clear waters. But this time you get two for the price of one. Dog’s Bay and Gurteen Bay are two grand, arching beaches sitting back to back. Just a few hundred metres separate the two. Spend your morning on the east-facing Gurteen Bay, then cross over to Dog’s Bay to soak up the afternoon sun.

Again, don’t expect beach cafes (or toilets for that matter). But the nearby Gurteen Bay campsite does make these beaches feel slightly more connected to civilisation.

And after you’ve had enough of the sun and sand, head up to O’Dowds in Roundstone for some of Connemara’s best seafood.

Inch Beach

Not all of Ireland’s best beaches are hidden away. Making the leap down to the southern stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way brings you to the famous Dingle peninsula. And whilst this is probably best known for its stunning landscape, Dingle’s beaches are pretty spectacular too. None more so than Inch Beach. Jutting out at a right-angle like the proverbial thumb, Inch beach is a vast stretch of sand offering beautiful views of the Atlantic and the Dingle and Kerry peninsulas. 

With joggers, dog-walkers and the occasional swimmer braving the ice-cold waters, this is more like a park than a standard beach. But it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a long walk by the water’s edge and then a sunset beer at Sammy’s beachfront restaurant.

Silver Strand, Sherkin Island

If you like out-of-the-way beaches then Silver Strand is for you. The ferry crossing from Baltimore to Sherkin Island takes a mere 10 minutes. But when you reach the other side and it’s like stepping back in time. With little over 100 inhabitants, traffic is sparse to say the least. Its country lanes are more suited to bicycles and the occasional dog than they are to cars. Which makes the stroll to Silver Strand a delight in itself.

When you get there, Silver Strand may not be completely deserted thanks to the regular ferry crossings. But the handful of people you’ll be sharing the sands with will be searching for nature just as much as you.

No toilets, no showers (although there is now a paved pathway to the beach), Silver strand is the place to find a quiet spot, plonk yourself down and sit gazing lazily out towards the Americas.

Lough Hine

OK, so Lough Hine (or Hyne/Ine depending on the writer) is not exactly a beach. It’s a sea-water lake that is separated from the Atlantic by a narrow channel which feeds the lake from the ocean twice a day.

Being more lake than sea gives this reserve unique characteristics. For a start you’ll find interseting marine life. But there’s also something special about the water itself. It’s warm (by Ireland’s standards). Which makes it a favourite spot for locals who want a swim in the ocean without turning blue.

If you don’t fancy swimming you can always try kayaking. Book a night trip with Atlantic Sea Kayaking and experiece the lake’s magical bioluminescence. Or simply sit by the water’s edge and soak up the stunning scenary as what little tide there is gently laps at your feet. If not one of Ireland’s best beaches, then certainly it’s most unique.

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