Sheltered waters are ideal for swimming and a Blueway snorkel trail tempts visitors to explore its underwater world, in the hope of triggerfish and spider crabs sightings. The blue flag bay was once home to a basking shark fishery, and these gentle giants still occasionally visit. To get there, follow the Atlantic drive from Keel. On a sunny day , the clear waters and white sand seem to transport us to another part of the world, as the stone walls of Connemara give way to Caribbean-like beaches near Roundstone.
There are also two more, lesser-known beaches nearby. All four are set in sheltered, clear, calm waters and are suitable for swimming or kayaking. Get there via the R between Roundstone and Ballyconneely.
Pollan Bay or Strand is a two-mile-long sandy beach at the foot of the hill leading to Ballyliffin village. There are views to Glashedy Island and to the famine village isle of Doagh, which is joined to the mainland by a causeway road.
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Set on the northern coast of the Dingle Peninsula, at the foot of Mount Brandon, Brandon Bay is a place of utter beauty for water sports enthusiasts. The Maharees, a sandy peninsula between Brandon Bay and Tralee Bay, is where most windsurfing activity is based. Check out jamieknox. Driving from Tralee, take the N86 towards Camp and Dingle then follow the R to Castlegregory, driving miles further to the sand dunes.
A strongly horseshoed bay with rocky outcrops on either side to explore, Glassilaun is ideal for divers and snorkelers.
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The North Atlantic Drift creates a nutrient-rich environment for an amazing variety of marine life. Glassilaun is set on the Connemara Loop, close to the village of Tullycross. No lifeguard but considered safe and sheltered. Kells is located 11km north of Cahirciveen off the N No lifeguard but lifesaving equipment is available.
Flanked by a busy harbour and a well- used pedestrian and cycle promenade, the golden arc of Portrush West beach is alive with activity year round. These days the beach is just as famous for its surf break, Blackrocks. The strand is also popular with swimmers, paddle boarders, kite surfers and horse riders in low season.
Lifeguard during bathing season. The beach is signposted off Portstewart Road. Twenty minutes south of Lahinch on the N67, the remote two- mile sandy stretch is backed with fantastic dunes. Pedestrian access is via a right of way across the exclusive golf course.
Experience two blue flags in one day with a minute walk that can be undertaken at low tide. Start on the quiet sheltered beach at Murvagh and cross three bays to end at facility-rich Rossnowlagh surf school, with beach access for cars and sustenance at the Sandhouse hotel. Both blue flag beaches have lifeguards on duty during summer. A strong word of caution: you must carefully check tides before setting out on this walk. Aim to begin 90 minutes before low tide. Murvagh is off the N15 south of Donegal town.
Rossnowlagh is 6km from Ballyshannon on the R While south Dublin families flock to the blue flag beach at Brittas Bay on sunny days, surfers prefer nearby Magheramore, where courses are run by Brittas Bay Surf School. This small, cove-like beach picks up good southerly swell, perfect for improvers and children, but not hugely interesting for more advanced surfers.
Magheramore is situated 3km south of Wicklow town. Access is via a privately owned lane. Strandhill boasts some of the most popular surfing waves in the country and, at 4km long, is also perfect for long beach walks strong tides permitting. The Strandhill Open surfing competition takes place every August bank holiday weekend.
Strandhill is 7km from Sligo. The mile-long horseshoe-shaped sandy beach at Kilkee has been a hit with holidaymakers since the s. With safe swimming thanks to the shelter of the Duggerna Reef, the blue flag beach also boasts natural swimming pools nestled in rocks jutting into the bay. A dive centre, surf school and fantastic cliff walks complete the picture. Diving from heights of up to 13m at the spot known as Newfoundout was another big hit over the years, but sadly the boards are currently out of commission.
Locals are battling to have them reinstated.
To reach the Pollock Holes, follow the coast road west from Kilkee town. Situated at the north end of Killiney beach, with views that stretch to the Sugar Loaf in Wicklow, White Rock is reached by walking down the Vico road, crossing the bridge over the Dart tracks and descending a series of steps. Killiney beach has a blue flag, so the cove is suitable for bathing and swimming.
To get there,take a minute Dart ride from Dublin city centre. If driving, there is limited parking at Killiney beach car park. This wide, soft stretch of beach is 5km long with a large sand dune area.
It stretches all the way to Baldoyle, adjoins Malahide Beach and offers lovely views of the Dublin Mountains and Howth harbour. Along the beach lies a path that leads to Malahide: walk it, cycle or even roller-blade to add another element to your day out.
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Portmarnock beach has a blue flag and Green Coast award for It also has plenty of facilities — lifeguard, toilets at the northern end, hotels, restaurants and golf courses. Using public transport, the beach is about a minute walk from both the nearest bus stop and train station. There are public toilets and a lifeguard station. Fashionable Greystones boasts two sweeping beaches, north and south, and this little gem of a cove sits virtually in the middle.
Greystones is a blue flag beach.
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There are two public toilets at the main beach and a lifeguard station. Take the Dart from Dublin city to Greystones, the beach is a five-minute walk. With guests floating happily from breakfast to lunch, afternoon tea to dinner, lengthy walks on the beach are advisable to work it all off. The owners chat to guests during dinner and the atmosphere is as it should be at a beachside hotel: relaxed and friendly.
The award- winning Island Spa offers seawater therapies while the beach is a haven for surfers and other water sport lovers. The hotel is a minute drive from Cork city. Catherine Murphy. Derrynane, Caherdaniel, Ring of Kerry.
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