The Best Beaches in Donegal (a locals guide)
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The beaches in Donegal are truly breathtaking and there are some incredible gems dotted along its rugged coast. It’s no surprise that its beaches are considered among the most beautiful in Ireland. We’ve spent months exploring every corner of Donegal and have put together this list of our best beaches in Donegal. We’ve personally visited each one of these beaches and had a lot of fun exploring them all!
Map of the Best Beaches in Donegal
To make it easier to find all these beaches we’ve put this map together which lists each of the best beaches.
How to Use This Google Map: Click on the grey star at the top of the map and this map will be added to your Google Maps account. You can then view it on your phone or computer in Google Maps by clicking on the menu button, going to “Your Places” and selecting this map. We use these maps all the time as you can set out your itinerary ahead of time and quickly reference the saved maps.
The Best Beaches in Donegal
From the remote ruggedness of Murder Hole Beach to the endless stretches of white sands at Five Finger Strand, there are so many amazing beaches in Donegal to choose from. These are our 14 best beaches in Donegal:
1 | Kinnagoe Bay
We stumbled across the secluded Kinnagoe Bay while exploring the Inishowen Peninsula a few years ago and it quickly became one of our favorite beaches in Donegal.
The beach itself is relatively small and, at high tide, the strand is split in two by a rocky headland. With its exposure to the thrashing Atlantic waves Kinnagoe Bay is beautifully rugged.
Best beaches in Donegal tip: Kinnagoe Bay is the final resting place of one of the more famous Spanish Armada shipwrecks, La Trinidad Valencera which ran aground off the coast in 1588. There is a small plaque at the beach to commemorate it.
2 | Bád Eddie Shipwreck – Magheraclogher Beach
The beautiful white sand beach at Magheraclogher is beautiful in itself. However, what really makes it unique is the shipwreck known as Bád Eddie (or Eddie’s Boat) that lies on the strand. In 1977 a boat called Cara na Mara was towed to the beach for some routine repair work. Since then the boat has lain on the beach where the daily tide partially submerges it.
Due to its oak construction, the wreck has remained largely intact over the years despite the constant tides weathering it. There is a local movement to try to preserve this unique boat that is now part of the Donegal landscape. Bad Eddie has become relatively well know international over the years. The wreck featured in a music video In a Lifetime by Clannad and Bono and has been a big draw for visitors to Gweedore over the years.
Best beaches in Donegal tip: At lower tides it possible to walk out the wreck itself and it’s a great location for photos.
3 | Stroove Beach
Located a few kilometres north of the small village of Greencastle on the Inishowen Peninsula, Stroove Beach is one of Donegal’s most underrated beaches.
Protected on both sides by headlands, including the Stroove Lighthouse, this small beach is a real hidden gem in Donegal. The water is perfect for swimming for both young and old and it is popular with families. There is parking right by the beach so you don’t need to walk very far. On a nice day in Donegal there is no other beach we’d rather be on!
Best beaches in Donegal tip: Make sure to check out the Inishowen Head Loop walk. It starts atop the Inishowen head and you can join at Stroove Lighthouse. It is a moderate 8km looped walk that takes around 3 hours to complete. It’s one of our favourite walks in Ireland due to the stunning coastal views (on a clear day you can see the west of Scotland) and the rugged landscape.
4 | Murder Hole Beach (Boyeeghter Bay)
The ominously named Murder Hole Beach, real name Boyeeghter Bay, is a small isolated beach on the north coast of Donegal. Located on Melmore Head on the Rosguill Peninsula, Murder Hole is one of the most ruggedly beautiful beaches in Donegal, if not the whole of Ireland. The raw beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way can be witnessed he
The secluded beach is dotted with small caves and surrounded by stunning cliffs. While swimming is not advised due to the rip currents in the water, Murder Hole is beautiful to explore on foot. Aim to visit at low tide so you can access the sea cave near the south end of the beach. Despite it’s ominous name, Murder Hole beach is one of the most stunning beaches we’ve ever visited!
Best Beaches in Donegal tip: the best views of the beach are from the cliffs on the north end of the strand.
5 | Silver Strand Beach
One of the more remote beaches on this list is the epic Silver Strand Beach in the Gaeltacht village of Malin Beg. While many visitors to Donegal will travel to the Slieve League Cliffs nearby, only a few make the extra 30km journey to picturesque Malin Beg.
Silver Strand Beach is a secluded crescent-shaped cove accessed via a winding stairway path from the car park above. You’ll likely see sheep grazing the hillside as you descend to the white sand beach.
Best beaches in Donegal tip: Silver Strand is our favourite beach for swimming in Donegal. On a good day, the water is quite a pleasant temperature and the views are spectacular.
6 | Ballymastocker Beach
Ballymastocker Beach, also known as Portsalon beach, is one of the best blue flag beaches in Ireland. This beautiful strand of pure white sand stretches over 2km from the seaside town of Portsalon to the southern headland.
Don’t miss the epic viewpoint of Ballymastocker Beach located just off the road to the south of the beach. The pull-in is a Wild Atlantic Way viewpoint and the view from here is incredible.
Best beaches in Ireland tip: If you’re in the area make sure to try and visit the Great Pollet Sea Arch which is around 20 minutes by car from Ballymastocker Beach. It’s one of the great sea arches in Ireland and is a short walk from the car park.
7 | Rosbeg Beach
The charm of Rosbeg Beach lies in its relatively small size and the views across the bay to the Glencolmcille Peninsula. The beach also looks onto a small rocky bay with an old fishing pier.
At low tide the small rocky islands are exposed and visitors can walk among them. The small uninhabited island of Inishbarnog is the larger of the rock outcrops which you can reach at low tide.
8 | Narin/Portnoo Beach
The blue flag Narin/Portnoo beach is a great beach for swimming and the long strand is perfect for a relaxing stroll – the beach is well protected from the forces of the Atlantic by the nearby Dunmore head.
At low tide, it is possible to walk to the small island of Inishkeel. The island is home to an old church and stone slabs and is definitely worth a visit. Allowing for the tides lets visitors explore the small island for around 30 minutes before returning to the mainland across the beach
It’s also possible to see the inhabited island of Aranmore from Narin/Portnoo beach.
9 | St Johns Point Beach
St Johns Point is a narrow peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic on the southern end of Donegal and is home to one of the county’s most beautiful beaches. The beach at St. Johns Point is a quiet strand around 300 metres long and is perfect for a few hours of relaxation. Due to its easterly facing view, the beach is well sheltered from the waves and wind of the Atlantic.
The views across Donegal Bay are stunning and Mayo and Sligo are visible. A short distance from the beach is one of Ireland most unique places to stay – the St Johns Point Lighthouse. Visitors can actually stay in one of the two light keepers cottages at the lighthouse, aptly named the Clipper and the Schooner, and the lighthouse which is still in operation.
10 | Culdaff Beach
The popular Blue Flag Culdaff Beach is around a 30 minute drive north of Stroove on the Inishowen Peninsula. The beach is comprised of two parts with a large and small beach separated by a rocky headland. We prefer the smaller of the two beaches as it’s less exposed to the wind, however both beaches can get quite busy on nice days.
Culdaff is very popular for watersports and swimming and usually attracts large crowds on pleasant days.
11 | Maghera Beach and Caves
The beautiful Maghera strand is just one kilometre from the popular Assaranca Waterfall . We loved Maghera as it’s a less well-known beach and doesn’t attract as many people as the other popular Donegal beaches.
There are over 20 caves dotted along the cliffs to the west of Maghera Beach, some of which can be accessed on foot at low tide. It recommended to explore the caves by kayak due to the tides and rising waters and a number of tours operate to the caves.
12 | Five Finger Strand
Nestled behind some of the highest sand dunes in Europe is the beautiful Blue Flag beach of Five Finger Strand. With its rolling sand dunes and beautiful scenery it’s easy to see why Five Finder Strand is considered one the best beaches in Donegal. A stroll along Five Finger strand is likely to be one of the most memorable moments of visiting Donegal.
Best Beaches in Donegal tip: On busy days the narrow road down to Five Finger Strand gets busy and it can be tricky to turn your car. It’s easier to park up the road close to the church and walk down to the beach.
13 | Tullan Strand
Tullan Strand is one of the most popular beaches in Donegal and for good reason. This incredible stretch of white sandy beach is located at the mouth of the Erne River Estuary. There is parking for around 50 cars so, on busy days, it is worth arriving at the beach early to avoid having to walk from Bundoran town.
Tullan strand is a popular surfing location and visitors can take a surf lesson or rent boards from the local surf school.
Best Beaches in Donegal tip: Make sure to check out the cliffs to the south of Tullan Strand which are famous for their stone arch known as the Fairy Bridge.
14 | Carrickfinn Beach
The pristine Carrickfinn Beach is located parallel to the runway of Donegal Airport. On a good day, the white sands and the pristine turquoise waters of Carrcikfinn Beach could easily be mistaken for somewhere on the Mediterranean. The views across Gweedore Bay make Carrickfinn perfect for a refreshing walk on the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s no surprise that Carrickfinn Beach is a regular recipient of the Blue Flag award
Best Beaches in Donegal tip: Donegal Airport was voted the second most scenic in the world. The views from take off and landing of Gweedore Bay and Carrickfinn beach are breathtaking.
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