If you’re planning to avoid airline delays and overpriced ice cream, you might want to consider taking some time to explore the natural beauty of Northern Ireland beaches this summer. Little more than an an hour from Belfast you can find yourself in the most stunning of ocean-side backdrops from caves to sand dunes, secret walks to water sports. We have a few favourites we’d like to share with you.
First heading North to the Causeway Coast:
A favourite with locals, this huge expanse of wild beach and rocky outcrops is often a little quieter than the other North Coast Beaches. With dunes that date as some of the oldest in Ireland, the views of Downhill and back to Portstewart Strand are stunning. Wild waves and epic rock pools welcome the serious surfers out early in the morning followed by crab-hunting, net-carrying kids later in the day.
White Rocks Beach
One of the more well known beauties in the Northern Ireland beach circuit, White Rocks is truly not to be missed. Whether you’re there at dawn to get the best waves (surfers come from far and wide to this spot) or keen to visit the caves and arches like Shelagh’s Head, Elephant Rock and Lion’s Paw, this Blue Flag beach is epic. Wild Atlantic is right.
A stunning stretch of Blue Flag Beach, National Trust owned (bring your membership if you have one), you can bring your car onto the beach, park up and make a day of it. Surf, body board, paddle board, picnic, you can plan for it all. Kids adore the huge bank of sand dunes behind the beach so when the water is a bit too nippy, take your body boards up there and let the kids work off some energy throwing themselves down into the sand below.
Prepare yourself to feel as close to remote and Wild Atlantic beauty as you can get on this 11km stretch of glorious wide beach. When the tide is out the sand is endless and with inlets of warm water gathering, it’s a lovely choice for families with young kids. With Mussenden Temple looking on from above, you will revel in the sense that you have the endless expanse of sea, sky and sand all to yourself.
White Park Bay
Located between Ballintoy and Portbradden on the Causeway Coastal Route, access can be a bit of a challenge here: the car park is very small and you’ll need to tackle steps and a hillside walkway to get to the beach. You’ll see that the reward is worth the effort when you finally glimpse the long wild beach and crystal clear water. Don’t be surprised if you find a few sunbathing cows luxuriating on the sand – they have a habit of dandering over from the fields behind the beach to take in the sea air!
Heading to east to the County Down coast, there are more beauties awaiting your bucket and spade:
Between stunning views of the Mourne Mountains and the giant sweeping dunes, Murlough Beach is a popular choice with families. Blue flag, super clean and offering walking trails on the four miles of golden sand, it’s a win-win. The dune system dates at an impressive 6000 years old and is home to birds and other wildlife.
A real hidden gem, this Blue Flag beach combines breath-taking views of the Mourne Mountains and Carlingford Lough. Idyllic in its beauty and located close to the seaside towns of Warrenpoint and Newcastle, it’s popular with water sports fans and families alike.
Yet another Blue Flag beach (aren’t we lucky!), this time close to Downpatrick and part of the Mourne Coastal Route. Boasting views of the Mourne Mountains and Dundrum Bay, you can look forward to sparkling clean water, great water sports conditions and a beautifully enclosed beach and dune complex.
Often forgotten, but a hidden gem for walkers and rockpool explorers alike, head past Donaghadee and Millisle and through the village of Ballywalter for a flat sandy beach with clean, clear water and views to Scotland on a clear day.
So, go forth, plan your route (and your ice cream stops!) and enjoy some of the sea-side benefits of living on this beautiful island!
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