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Beaches in Ireland

We will be in Galway and Portstewart in September. I know that these are coastal towns, but does that mean that there are actually beaches there? I figured it was too cold to swim there (or is it?) but if there are beaches, are they rocky or sandy? Just wondering if we'll be able to stroll along the waterfront, and if so, what type of waterfront it is. We're staying in Salthill while in Galway if that makes a difference...

Posted by
3247 posts

We were in Ireland last September and it was too chilly for swimming! We drove to Salthill and if I remember correctly, the beach was more rocky than sandy. They do have a nice walkway along the beach though. Salthill looked like a fun place to stay.

Posted by
441 posts

I went to Ireland last month and there was a surfing contest at Inch. It's a big, sandy beach but I noticed that all the contestants were in wetsuits.

Posted by
881 posts

Amy, to give you an idea what a beach is like in Ireland: fill half your bath tub with sand, fill the other half with water, and ice cubes, air conditioner on high. Dip yourself into the water, then stand in front of the air conditioner, with all the fans in the house blowing on you - that's pretty close! ;)

Seriously though Amy, it's cold. Unlike the warm currents on the Eastern US, the North Sea currents are extremely cold (mid 30's to mid 40 degrees), and there is always a strong breeze.

The beaches are beautiful, and walkable. They range from everything from dramatic cliffs (Moher), and other great geography (Giant's causeway), to just beautiful sand beaches.

You can dip in the water (much like we do in the Northwest here), but it will probably be a bit chilly for swimming.

Bring a sweater, and a rain coat/wind breaker. Even in summer, it can be a bit chilly - but it can also be absolutely lovely! :)

Posted by
520 posts

On my first trip to Ireland (1979) I swam in Galway Bay. I believe the time of year was late spring/early summer. It was freezing! But I wouldn't trade the experience.

Southeast Ireland is rumored to have the best beaches (sand, weather) but I can't vouch because I haven't visited those beaches. Maybe someone with more firsthand knowledge can offer an opinion.

Posted by
1357 posts

We just came back from spending a week in Doolin. We visited the beaches in Lahinch and on Inisheer. Even though Lahinch has a "beach", it depends on what time of day you are there. When we went in the afternoon, the tide was in, and there was no sand to speak of, only lots of rocks. But the next morning, there was a nice sandy beach.

I didn't swim in it, but my husband and son did a little. They both said it was freezing. Remember that the adjective they use to describe the North Atlantic is "icy."

Posted by
425 posts

The huge golden sand beaches in Donegal, near the small village where my mother was born, are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. They are all "blue flag". (A symbol of quality in Europe, given to the best.) BUT. The Atlantic rollers do not bring warm water with them! Remember how far north this is! Good for surfing though!