Some of Ireland’s most beautiful beaches are located around the rugged coastline of Connemara, with many and varied options for exploring, beachcombing, swimming, walking and more. In this part of the world, you will never find yourself too far away from the great Atlantic Ocean and a beach visit should certainly be a part of your Connemara experience. The beaches detailed here are just some of the wonderful wet and sandy stretches that await the Connemara visitor. Many more secluded and breathtakingly scenic spots are around every corner and at the end of many roads, just waiting to be discovered. And don’t despair if the temperatures aren’t too high – a good dose of Connemara sea air at any time of year will replenish the body and soothe the soul in typical Connemara fashion.
Connemara’s capital and a seaside town, Clifden is often a starting point for many visitors. The Clifden Beach Road is a very popular walk and short drive, though with varying water quality, swimmers are best advised to continue on to some of the more rural beaches for a dip (if the temperatures appeal!). However, the Clifden Boat Club located at the end of the Beach Road offers a seaside location for drinks and snacks and sailing opportunities for those who would prefer to get out on the water than in it. Ten minutes from Clifden, Eyrephort Beach is located at the end of the famous Sky Road and faces the islands of Inishturbot and Inishturk South. A local favourite, it will be busy on summer days and the narrow road can be tricky for passing traffic, but it is well worth a visit at any time of the year.
Omey Strand, one of Connemara’s most intriguing beaches, connects the mainland village of Claddaghduff to the tidal Omey Island. It is possible to drive across Omey Strand to the island at low tide, but always check tide times before parking and exploring as it can be very easy to get caught out and stranded. Omey is very popular for horseback treks and also hosts the renowned Omey Races every August, where the strand becomes a race track for a day, complete with bookmakers, jockeys and horses and plenty of entertainment.
Claddaghduff and Cleggan are the villages of the Aughrus peninsula, which is well worth exploring for beaches. A sign on the road connecting the two villages indicates Rossadillisk and reads ‘Welcome to Paradise’ – and it certainly delivers. A vast flat beach with a large tidal draw is dominated by giant boulders and lots of shallow rock pools which will enchant and entertain children. Sallerna Beach, also signposted past the fishing village of Cleggan, is another gem and has some interesting archaeological features in the nearby fields.
The dramatic mountains and peaks of North Connemara overlook some stunning beaches. Lettergesh is renowned for its series of beautiful strands overlooked by the majestic Mweelrea mountain and movie buffs may be interested to learn that the famous horse racing scene from The Quiet Man was filmed here. Glassilaun is another North Connemara wonder and is popular with water sports enthusiasts. There are also some excellent dive sites in the area. Closer to Tully village is White Strand which is safe and easy to enjoy and is also a popular dog walking spot.
One of Ireland’s favourite island holiday destinations, Inishbofin boasts some spectacular award winning beaches. The East End beach on the island has previously won European Green Coast Awards and is a must for a sunny day on the island. However, with some varying currents and swells, not all areas around the island are suitable for swimming, so be sure to check with your accommodation provider or at the Community Centre before diving in.
On Connemara’s southern side, the good news for beach lovers continues. The popular summer holiday spot of Ballyconneely is blessed with a number of beautiful beaches. The Coral Strand, located next to the main road to Ballyconneely from Clifden is a very popular spot for a swim, but you will have to tip toe over the large pieces of coral in order to get in!
Aillebrack Beach, near the Connemara Championship Golf Links, is a wonderfully natural and peaceful beach setting and habitat, while Mannin’s clear blue waters and sandy dunes make it a family favourite for many. Surfing and sea kayaking are popular at Doonloughan beach, where the expanses of sandy dunes and grass make it an enticing place to explore and ramble around- a perfect place to find your own spot and get away from it all.
Heading towards Roundstone, the impressive vistas of Gurteen and Dog’s Bay lie back to back, separated by grassy dunes and viewed beautifully from Errisbeg Hill. Gurteen is the larger of the two and has a lifeguard on duty during the summer months as well as kayak rental and other facilities. The headland separating the two glorious beaches is a highly recommended walk, and is preferable to walking through the dunes as a grass planting system is in place by the local community. Dog’s Bay’s bright white sand is composed of millions of microscopic shells and is also a Green Coast awarded beach. Roundstone’s glorious pair of beaches are naturally popular with both locals and visitors alike and can be busy during spells of good weather.
Along the coastline heading towards Galway a number of fine beaches will also be found in various parts of the South Connemara Gaeltacht. Near Carna, Moyrus and Feenish beaches are calm, quiet and peaceful. An Trá Mór (the big beach) near Indreabhan (Inverin) is impressive and also boasts a Blue Flag award. Trá an Dóilín in An Cheathru Rua (Carraroe) is another outstanding beach, with a Blue Flag and a lifeguard on duty in summer months as well.
View Connemara Beaches in a larger map