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Our Pick of the Best Beaches in Ireland for Families

Did you know that Ireland has 140 beaches and lakes? And that almost three quarters of beaches in Ireland are classified as ‘excellent’ by EU standards*? Here is our pick of the best beaches in Ireland for families:

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This is by no means a comprehensive list of beaches, just some of our favourites!

Ballybunion Beach, Kerry

Ballybunion beach

At Ballybunion in North Kerry, there are two Blue Flag beaches to enjoy – the ‘Men’s Beach‘ & ‘Ladies’ Beach‘ – which are divided by a cliff on which stands a ruined castle. Both beaches are safe for swimming and popular for surfing. On the Men’s Beach, explore the ‘Black Rocks’ when the tide is out, and fish for crabs and periwinkles. The Ladies Beach has the added attraction of magnificent rock formations, shallow caves and rock pools, and be sure to try out the therapeutic and relaxing seaweed baths.

Brittas Bay, Wicklow

brittas bay beach

Brittas Bay has won a Blue Flag for five consecutive years. With a 5km stretch of beautiful white sand dunes and clean beaches, it is ideal for bathing, sailing and walking.

Tracht Beach, Galway

Tracht Beach

Image courtesy of Andrew Downes Photography

Traught Beach near Kinvara in Co. Galway has a nice long beach with plenty of sand and shallows for paddling in. Good for young kids, because of the gentle slopes.

It has a lifeguard during summer season and public toilets.

Inchydoney Beach, Cork

inchydoney beach

Inchydoney is a sandy beach, located on Inchydoney Island a few miles from Clonakilty. Public parking and toilets are provided adjacent to the beach, and life guards are on duty in the summer season. Access to the beach is by ramps and steps.

Tramore Beach, Waterford

tramore beach

The 5km sandy Tramore Beach is very safe for swimming as it is shallow for a distance especially when the tide is in. Life Guards & Blue Flag. Tramore Beach is also the safest beach for surfing beginners. A wander down the sand dunes is a must.

Enniscrone Beach, Sligo

enniscrone beach

Enniscrone is one of the safest and tidiest beaches along the west coast of Ireland, which stretches for an amazing 5km. The beach is ideal for walking and running, as well as relaxing in the sun and children playing in the sand. The waters are safe for swimming and very popular for surfing. Other activities include kite surfing and beach fishing, as well as horse riding and the annual horse racing event.

Portmarnock Beach, Dublin

 Portmarnock-beach

Velvet Strand at Portmarnock is a very popular 5 mile long beach for swimming, sunbathing and horse-riding. It stretches from Baldoyle and is next to Malahide beach with a great view of the Dublin mountains and Howth Harbour. There are public toilets located at the northern end of the beach, and the beach is lifeguarded during bathing season.

Before you head off to the beach, download our free Summer Beach Checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything!

summerbeachchecklist-thumbnail

Also, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides up-to-date information on the water quality at beaches and lakes on their Splash website, where you can you can find out details of water quality, if a beach is dog friendly, whether first aid is available, and which beaches have life-saving facilities. Beach profiles include a picture of the beach, visitor numbers, information about the area and details of the facilities available. You can also use the website to find out if any current warnings or bathing notices are in operation.

Tips and advice for anyone planning a trip to the beach

The EPA has the following advice for people planning holidays this summer:

  • Before you go, check the Splash website for updates on water quality and bathing notices.
  • Take note of warning signs: Always observe any closure, advisory, or safety hazards signs, they’re there for your safety.
  • Respect your surroundings: Take a ‘leave no trace’ approach to prevent and minimise harm during your next summer trip. While at the beach or outdoors, make sure to dispose of litter properly in the waste and recycling bins provided or alternatively bring your waste home and dispose of it later.
  • Use the ‘See it Say it’ app to report any environmental concerns: By taking a quick photo, and adding a few details, this app makes it easier to make a complaint about issues such as dumping of litter or other environmental problems.
  • Know the warning flags: Never swim where a sign says not to or when the red flag is flying. The red flag is flown when there is a water safety risk e.g. the presence of dangerous under-currents.
  • Water quality can deteriorate quite quickly after very heavy rainfall, especially at beaches near urban areas, and the red flag can also be flown where pollution is likely or where there is an increased risk of illness if you go into the water.
  • Be careful about sun exposure: Apply sunscreen with a high SPF to reduce the intensity of the sun rays and apply 15-20 minutes before sun exposure. Limit exposure especially between the hours of 10am and 2pm as UV rays are strongest at these times, especially during the summer.

Water quality data and information on any bathing restrictions is displayed locally on Local Authority websites and on the beach notice boards”. You can also follow EPA on Twitter @EPABathingWater to receive alerts of any problems.

* The EPA’s 2015 Bathing Water Quality report showed that 93% of Irish bathing waters meet the EU minimum standards for water quality with 101 of the 140 bathing waters rated as being of ‘excellent’ quality. The full report is available at www.epa.ie.

Over to you now, what is your favourite beach in Ireland to visit with kids? Tell us in the comments below

beaches in ireland

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Jill is one of the co-founders of Mykidstime and a mum of 2 girls