- Great beach for Sailing!
- Beach is Sailable though it may have hazards, or restrictions please review the description.
- Beach maybe Sailable but little to no information is available!
- Sailing is Banned on this beach.
Starting at Dublin & working clockwise round the coast, you have:
Killiney / Bray
Viewed from the south end at Newcastle, this is a shingle bank with - possibly - a strip of sailable sand at low water. Don't bother.
Curracloe, just North of Wexford
A sandy beach, with a firm narrow strip of sailable sand facing East, only sailable if the wind is straight off the sea. The beach is too narrow to tack on, & very popular with tourists in summer. Don't bother.
Visible from the ferry. Sailable, but too small.
Bastardstown, East of Kilmore Quay
Too rocky, not sailable.
Ballyteige Bay, West of Kilmore Quay
Soft. Don't bother.
Looks good on the map. Faces east. Rippled, wet, rocky & unsailable whenever I've been there.
The first sailable beach! Faces South, or SSE, 2 miles long. A Blokart school operates from the Town at the West end of the beach, which can get very crowded in season. The middle of the beach is wet, but the East end is worth visiting & dries nicely.
Looks good from afar, but forget it - it's too wet, too rippled & generally unsailable.
South of Youghal is Clonard or Red Barn, which looks good on the map & has been raced on, but the beach has gone to pieces in recent years & is barely sailable. Dry suit essential, as it is wet, rippled & rocky. 2 miles long, faces SE. Can park on the beach, so excellent access. Haven't visited the area south of the river, as it has never looked sailable. The locals have fond memories of this beach, & I may have been harsh, but it is sailable ... groynes nearer the town are passable in a miniyacht. Worth a visit, & sailable by the determined !
Nothing of note.
"Where Charlie Chaplin used to sail". Subdivided by a river into 2 stretches of mile-long sand facing south or SW, both are sailable. You can drive onto the eastern portion, but not the western side, with very limited roadside parking. Pleasant, but small.
2 miles of west facing sailable sand. 2m height restriction barrier at the end of the access road. Wet, often ripply, but definitely sailable - as is the "back" area behind the dunes - so it is possible to do a complete lap of the dunes. If you're thinking of sailing this beach, you'd be well advised to drive a little further to
3 miles of SW facing perfect sand. You can drive onto the beach, drive down the beach to get away from the crowds (in season) & have a lovely day's sailing, in almost any wind - except possibly a light northerly. Sammy's bar / cafe at the entrance to the beach is excellent, as is Foley's (pub) on the road east. The billiard-table flat beach gets a bit holey & rippled towards the southern end, & it is possible to sail right round the southern end - sometimes.
On neap tides you can sail when the tide is in, & camp overnight. A real favourite, this beach. The scenery is stunning, with westerly views framed by the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula to either side, and the Macgillycuddy Reeks to the SE, and invariably gannets diving obligingly out in the bay. It’s a dry beach, in that there is nearly always a dry strip near the high water line that is flat, ripple and hole-free, ie sailable - and there’s a big area that dries quickly near the highest dune that is usually sailable, too. If it’s warm and windless, you’ll get a sea breeze kicking in from 2pm, and if it’s hot and windless, you’ll get a catabatic NE wind rolling down from the hills. After careful consideration, and taking absolutely everything into account, Inch gets my Best Beach in Europe Award - it’s the presence of Sammy’s - the ultimate Clubhouse - which clinches it. Sammy’s is always open, has a Gift Shop selling decent, upmarket gifts, not the usual tat, a well-stocked Cafe with fab cakes and coffee, and a proper Bar serving good quality meals all day. A day on Inch rarely disappoints.
A mile or so of sailable East-facing sand, surprisingly busy given it’s remoteness when we visited in June 2018. Not worth the effort, given the alternatives available.
If there's North in the wind, forget Inch & go to Brandon ! This curved bay faces N or NW & is 7 miles long, with Spillane's pub at the northern end, & the moody Mount Brandon as the focal point of the view. The bay has a magical, mystical quality - & has an outstadingly fine beach, which can be sailed end-to-end - repeatedly - with ever-changeable terrain. Confusingly the beach is subdivided into - from the southern/western end - Fermoyle, Kilcummin, Stradbally, Gowlane, the Dumps & Fahamore - but they are all the same beach, Brandon Bay ! The 2 miles at the Fermoyle end have excellent access & are usually perfectly flat, hard & dry, but you need some north or east in the wind to enjoy this end of the bay, as any south or west in the wind makes for gusty sailing if the wind is strong, or a disappointing struggle if the wind is light.
Kilcummin is the access of choice, as you can then go in either direction, whereas the Stradbally access can be soft, & the Gowlane access softer again. There is an area of pea shingle at Gowlane which can be soft when sailing upwind, & there are areas of moon country by the golf tee north/east of Gowlane. There is a lovely dry flat area south of the Dumps, & it can get a little rocky/pebbly as you get nearer the Dumps
- & it gets more crowded too, as the Dumps is a popular spot with the surfers & kite surfers. There used to be a "pan" area of flat sand towards Spillane's from the Dumps, which faces due west & is usually sailable if there's south in the wind - but if there's south in the wind, you really should be over at Inch. An exquisitely challenging beach, with the most superb scenery, rivalled only by Inch.
A tiny little north-facing bay at the absolute tip of the Maharees, sailable - just - but why bother when there's Brandon Bay to play with ?
Facing NE, this narrow strip of sand is sailable, just ... but if the wind is NE, go to Fermoyle & enjoy the wide expanse of easy sailing there, instead of struggling on this narrow beach. Given the right wind conditions - NE - and ignoring the Fermoyle option, it would be possible to sail from Scraggane to... almost Camp. MD and a kite buggier friend has done it.
This beach looks good on the map, but disappoints in practice. 2 miles of NW facing sand, but in reality a very narrow strip of sand, with rocks at the far end. We've sailed it before, but it was rippled at the northern end, & it has been unsailable on the last few visits. Don't bother - go to Brandon instead.
3 miles of west facing hard, flat sand, dryer at the south end, with a large car park, & hundreds of caravans hidden behind the dunes, together with a
Butlins-style holiday complex or two. A lovely beach, with the Dingle peninsula as a backdrop, but don't bother if it's sunny weather or its anywhere
near the tourist season as this beach gets very busy - but not as busy as Ballyheigue, below.
The back beach is an intriguing area of lovely flat, sailable sand - perfect for an easterly wind - arguably soft in places and invariably rippled - but access is poor, park on the roadside verge & struggle across to the sand. The south end of Banna can get holey, but it's a good beach that can be relied upon for some good sailing - if it isn't crowded.
The north end of Banna - a wet beach, & invariably busier than Banna. It is possible to combine the two, but the subdividing stream gets dredged regularly to drain the bog behind the dunes, & can be deep. Banna is to be preferred.
Looks good in the ads for the golf course - very small - but I've not been there.
Despite favourable reports from surfers, it was unsailable when I went there - can't remember why.
Achill - Keel
1.5 - 2 miles of SW facing hard flat sand, narrowing towards the southern end. Good availability, & good access. Dries nicely at the northern end, & fine scenery too. Huge open grassy common area behind the beach, with village rugby & football pitches, golf course & hordes of sheep, which is just as much fun to sail on as the wet beach !
Busy, but not too crowded, & plenty of room for everyone.
The beach - jointly with Keem / Doogort on the North side of the island - are in the Top Ten Irish beaches. Keel deserves to be there, Keem doesn't, as it isn't sailable.
The unpronouncible island beaches north of Achill - no info - possibly inaccessible.
Strandhill & Cullenamore
A south-facing bay approximately 1 mile wide, on the south side of the village of Strandhill. Scenic, with southerly views & a backdrop of dunes with a golf course, this is a relatively flat & shallow beach that could dry out nicely on neap tides, but was wet, rippled, soft in places & windless on our visit. There’s scope for exploring the sandbanks round the western end of the beach, & even working your way northwards past the village of Strandhill, but it would require determination & a decent southerly or southwesterly breeze. Locals say the beach is popular with the kitebuggies, & is likely to be crowded in the tourist season, but we've never managed to successfully sail on the Strandhill beach itself.
Accessible only by a tidal causeway, the east side of the island was a very pleasant surprise during a week of easterly winds in that it was hard, dry & flat - unlike the rest of the estuary which was wet & rippled. The beach at Coney Island was probably a mile long, facing east, & refreshingly flat after the ripples of the estuary & causeway. The south side of the estuary dried out quickly, but became soft nearer a small island. Locals say it is best when the tides are neapy as it stays dry, but you would need a stiff breeze & low tyre pressures to cope comfortably with the ripples. The causeway might dry out on neap tides, but it certainly stayed wet on a spring tide & driving across would be regrettable if you value your car.
Rosses Point & Drumcliffe Bay
There's a small mile long west-facing beach at the end of Rosses Point, which might extend northwards onto a longer beach on a sandbar / spit that protrudes into the bay, with a further sailable east-facing beach on the back of the sandbar, but unfortunately we had light easterlies & heavy rain at the time of our visit so we did not go exploring.
Facing south & overlooking Drumcliffe Bay & the two beaches described above either side of the sandbar / dunes, this is a real Jekyll & Hyde of a beach. The locals claim it is not sailable but, during a week of easterlies in April 2009, we had a lovely time belting about on a good mile of lightly rippled but dry sand, overlooked by Yeats' Lissadell House. However, in September, the beach was utterly unsailable. Local word says the best you can hope for is to get a run back & fore along the high water line, so perhaps it’s best not to rely on this beach ! In 2016 we had 3 full days of exquisite sailing on this beach, and sailed west to Raghly, but couldn’t get round the corner - proof that it can’t be relied on. We also did a lot of damage to our seats here, as we sailed through some very narrow rocky bits … initially very slowly, with the sail right out … but flat out on Day 3, block to block … I can remember one particular rock that was red and blue by the end of our trip, the colour of our seats ...
Another mile long beach, just west of Lissadell, facing southwest, that we didn’t sail on in 2009 due to feeble light easterlies & rain.
A mile or so of northwest facing sand, backed by dunes, behind which lies a tidal inlet. The beach is very pretty indeed. The mudflats behind the beach look sailable, especially on neap tides when they should dry nicely, & they are tantalisingly visible from the N15 main road, but they have consistently failed to deliver. There’s something about Streedagh ... a “come hither” promise of an exquisite day’s sailing, which sadly is rarely fulfilled. It is definitely worth a visit ... with the dry suit, as it is a wet beach.
There's a castle on Roskeeragh Point that is visible for miles around, overlooking a west-facing beach to the south of it, but sadly the beach is
inaccessible, unless you fancy a walk of over half a mile, but even then the lovely orangey coloured sand is mainly soft & holed.
The town overlooks a pretty northeast-facing bay which looks better than it is ... which is banky, soft in places & mainly wet ... &, despite being over a mile long, is deceptively small. If there are 3 people walking their dogs on the dry bits, it feels crowded. It would be hopelessly crowded in the tourist season, but is good for a quick visit out of season, if the wind is in the northeast.
One & a half miles of west-facing sand, with the steepest access path I've ever encoutered. It is a lovely beach that looks fantastic on the map but somehow fails to live up to expectations. Perhaps there’s too much “Fundoran” hype, but this is another beach that is best admired from the extensive car park (NB 2m height barrier), but is well worth a quick visit as it is very pretty. The sand is hard & flat, the beach looks as though it dries quite quickly, & there's scope for some fooling about on the sandbanks that get exposed at the northern end at low water. The river estuary leading up to Ballyshannon is not accessible, & forms part of a military firing range.
2 miles of west-facing hard, flat & relatively quick-drying sand, with vehicular access so you can park on it. There's a lovely pub - the Smuggler's Creek - up on the cliff at the south end of the beach with the most stunning views straight down the beach, & spectacular sunsets, & excellent food (Oct 2016). There’s a massive modern luxury 4-storey hotel (The Sand House Hotel) complete with Spa with deluxe seaweed baths etc, right on the beach (it went into receivership - NAMA - and has since reopened, so don't count on the deluxe seaweed experience). There are lots of holiday homes & caravans behind the beach & it is definitely a popular spot in the tourist season. It's a great place to learn to drive, or play with your toys, of whatever description. It's a dry beach, with no soft sand, no holes, & plenty in it's favour, & you can sail round the northern end of it to get a tantalising glimpse of ...
2 or maybe 3 miles of west-facing hard, flat, relatively quick drying sand with - if you’ve just been to Rossnowlagh - a decidedly remote feel to it.
Access is via a single track road through dunes & pine woods that leads to a relatively small but depressingly litter-strewn car park. A short struggle
over the dunes & you are on a dry flat strip of sand, beyond which lies wet ripples. Head north & you’re into picture-postcard Donegal, with a vista
of gorgeous wooded tidal inlets. Venture round the corner & you can see the County town peeping at you between wooded islands & beds of shellfish.
It's a super spot - scenic, atmospheric &, for the thrill-seeking sandyachter, lots to do.... like, for instance, tacking out for 2 miles to the west
to see where the tide has gone .... or belting round to the south end of the beach, out onto the ripples, through a few water-filled gulleys, to see if it
is possible to get round the corner, which it is ... & you can keep going, on & on ... until you reach Rossnowlagh.
If you enjoy exploring & fancy an adventure, this is a trip that simply must be done.
The merest little beach, a mile max. in length, facing northwest, with an island that’s cut off by the tide & a caravan site hidden in the dunes.
It’s a bit of a tourist hot-spot that we dismissed as Not sailable on our first visit, but then were forced to reconsider when a Blokart Open Day was
organised there, & found that good organisation, crowds (Donegal definition), family fun & minilandyachts can all happily coexist, for the mutual
benefit of all. This spot is a particular favourite of Pat Letters, local Blokart dealer, & a site for his utterly admirable promotional activities !
There’s a lovely stretch of sand shown on the map at Clooney, but ... it’s inaccessible. Don’t bother going looking for access as there isn’t any, & the signage will send your blood pressure soaring ... besides which, why bother when there’s DOOEY!
Dooey, Gweebarra Bay
Remote is the word for this absolute gem of a beach. It’s worth the trek down single track roads - the southern route is more scenic - to get to this stunning mile & a half stretch of west-facing white sand. When you get there, ignore the car park & head right, along a bumpy grassy track, as that’s the best way on to the beach. What a location ! Idyllic’s the word. The beach is dry, hard & flat ... but it does go all banky & soft at the southern end, but don’t be put off ! The scenery is stunning, & it does seem wonderfully remote, especially after Naran. If you’re blessed with a southerly breeze, you can, with determination, get out onto the surprisingly firm banks & work your way round the southern end of the beach, on the banks of the river, into the next bay ... then, tacking back inland, following the high water line right round the bay for another mile or so, through a little stream, through tufts of grass, until you end up in a field full of cows.
The Donegal Airport / Bunbeg Area
Stunningly beautiful, with lots of sandy tidal inlets & islands galore, there’s much fun to be had exploring the numerous relatively small but incredibly scenic beaches, especially on neap tides. The Derrybeg area is bordering on the prosperous, with extensive ribbon development taking advantage of the gorgeous views over the islands . Inland is the desolate Glenveagh National Park, which provides a striking contrast.
One & a half or 2 miles of north & west facing sand. A wonderfully scenic curved bay with distant islands, dunes, banks & a sandy spit at the northern end. Unfortunately the wind peaked at 40 mph during our visit, at which point most of the beach seemed to be airborne & we had to physically hang on to the yachts & sit it out until a semblance of normality returned, so we were unable to explore the northern end, which extends eastwards to a big river which separates it from FALCARRAGH
A good 2 miles of straight, north-facing sand, backed by dunes. Banky in character, with some areas of holes, there’s a remote feel to this beach. The stream by the access looked a bit deep following the recent rains, so we didn’t do the eastern end, which was a shame as it looked even better - flat, free from banks, suitably windswept & not a soul on it. There’s ample fun to be had on the western mile & a half of this beach &, together with Meenlaragh, these two beaches are worth a weekend on their own.
The northwest-facing beach next door is inaccessible. Dunfanaghy & Portnablaghy attract No comment - we didn’t visit them as we were only interested in the bigger beaches by now - & we may well have been spoiled for choice !
This beach scored on both length - nearly 3 miles of west or northwest-facing sand, with a sandy spit/point at the southern end - & scenery, overlooking the Ards Forest Park. Mouthwateringly scenic, with glorious southerly views over classic Donegal - a wooded sandy estuary - from the admittedly soft sandy spit.
At the northern end of the beach, just round a rocky point, is Downings ... a touristy village with a small, hard, flat beach with car access, backed by a caravan site, so it could be crowded in season, but it’s just the place for a quick hoonaround in a southwesterly breeze.
At the western end of Fanad Head is THIAMAIN, a good mile & a half, possibly 2 miles, of north-facing picturesque bay, subdivided by a rocky outcrop that can be crossed at the uphill end. It is worth the effort of walking the yacht the 50 yards from one beach to the other as you get 2 beaches for the price of 1, & the scenery’s subtly different too. The east end faces northwest, the west end faces north, with a rocky headland at the west end. Fine, flat beaches, but a sudden downpour flooded the western end at the time of our visit.
Particularly memorable, this east or northeast-facing beach, because the stream towards the southern end, swelled by recent rains to just over knee-deep, was flowing so fast downhill that it nearly swept me out to sea when I mistakenly tried to sail through it - & found it was nearly impossible to stand up in it ! The northern portion of the beach curved in traditional Donegal style towards the village, where there’s a large car park & a “tunnel” through the golf course , & there’s the wreckage of an airplane on the beach. The stream wasn’t any better on the return trip, but at least it wasn’t such a surprise - unlike the southern end of the beach ... a rocky headland at the end was just asking to be sailed round, & there was another half mile of extra beach, with rocky outcrops/cliffs providing shelter for the lucky few who had found this idyllic spot.
Inishowen Peninsula (Fahan, Tullagh, Pollan & the two beaches on Malin Head) to do ... so no information.
Downhill / Benone, Coleraine, N. Ireland
5 miles of N or NE facing perfect sand with good availability & car access. Steep cliffs behind the beach at the Downhill / E end of the beach disrupt the wind, & the military control the W end from Benone during normal working hours. Limited tidal range, so the beach will seem narrow if tacking is required. If the wind's off the sea, then this is one fine long beach.
Some 2 miles East of Downhill, is 1.5m long & faces NNW, & is tiny by comparison to Benone ... but looked to be well worth an hour or 2's thrasharound because the town's at one end of the beach, separated by a river, & the deserted beach made an nice contrast to the busyness of the pretty town. A truly unique beach, worthy of closer inspection.
Ballyferis / Ballywalter, & Cloghy on the Ards peninsula - no information.
Newcastle & Tyrella beaches on Dundrum Bay
Newcastle used to be the venue for racing in the 1980s, but I'm told the beach is barely sailable these days. Worth checking ? It looks good on the map, facing south, or SE.
Kilkeel / Greenore
Looks great on the map, facing SE & SW respectively, but ... no information.
[as a general note, be aware that there's an awkward "vibe" to these Northern Ireland beaches ... possibly related to there being too many burned out buildings, graffiti etc in the area generally - we didn't like it - did Benone, & fled - fast]
The Drogheda beaches
From Dunany Point south to Clogher Head; Clogherhead to the Shannon, the Shannon to Laytown, & Laytown south to Gormanstown - A good 15 miles of East facing banky sand, divided into 4 or 5 separate beaches by rivers. The Northern end looks muddy & potentially soft further out, but the section south of Clogherhead to the Shannon looked to be better than the Laytown section. There's usually a dry flat strip near the high water line, with wet ripples further out. It is possible to do the whole lot from end to end in a day, given a decent easterly. The most popular part of the beach is the Laytown / Bettystown section, with 2 or 3 access points where you can drive onto the beach, which is banky, sandy - as opposed to muddy - & great in an easterly, but variable in a westerly as the seafront buildings & trees obstruct the wind, & the sailing is wet if it involves tacking, as there's lots of pools to splash through. Avoid if its a lovely sunny day, as this beach can get very busy - especially in the school holidays
2 miles of SE facing sand, subdivided by groynes that you can squeeze a miniyacht through. Being on Dublin's doorstep, this is a busy beach with lots of dogwalkers, & lots of folk out playing with assorted toys. There's usually room at the far end to escape from everyone.
* Notes - The foregoing information is intended to be helpful, but it might be wrong.