Mention Northern Ireland and most people will think of rolling meadows, picturesque villages and sipping Guinness in a local pub. In fact, Northern Ireland has over 200 kilometres of coastline that features more than 31 beautiful beaches. Visitors can cruise some of the world’s best coastal drives and roam stretches of pristine sand nestled between crystal clear water and stunning scenery. SIXT invites you to learn more about ten of the country’s most breathtaking beaches.
Portstewart Strand, County Londonderry
Owned and managed by the National Trust, Portstewart Strand runs for 3 kilometres along the North Coast. With dramatic dunes and fabulous views of Inishowen headland and Mussenden Temple, Portstewart Strand is popular all year round with hikers, horse riders, surfers and bird watchers. Cars are allowed on the beach, so it’s an ideal spot for picnics. Visitors should note that dogs must be kept on a leash and there is no lifeguard service.
Murlough Nature Reserve, County Down
Set at the feet of the Mourne Mountains, Murlough Nature Reserve is a must-see for nature lovers. 8 kilometres of gold sand separate the water from a 6000-year-old sand dune system that is teeming with wildlife. Stoats and badgers make their homes amongst the dunes as do birds and over 20 species of butterfly. Seals are often seen swimming along the coast. The beach’s strong winds make it a favourite spot for surfers. In 1967 Murlough was declared Ireland’s first Nature Reserve. Dogs must be kept on a leash in the nature reserve. Murlough Nature Reserve does have a lifeguard service.
Whiterocks Beach, County Antrim
Whiterocks Beach is famous for its limestone cliffs and a popular destination for families, surfers and bodyboarders. Known as The White Rocks, it is one of Northern Ireland’s most loved seasides. Visitors can explore the amazing labyrinth of caves and arches set into the cliffs and find a range of shops and amenities in the neighbouring towns. Whiterocks Beach has a lifeguard service on duty. Please note that dogs are banned in July and August.
Cushendun Beach, County Antrim
Visitors to Cushendun Beach will discover magnificent views, a prime fishing location and pristine white sands. The Mull of Kintyre rests just 24 kilometres from the beach and is clearly visible during good weather. The surrounding areas feature the Carra Castle Ruins and the Red Caves where parts of the hit TV series Game of Thrones were filmed. There is no lifeguard service and dog restrictions run from Easter until the end of Summer.
White Park Bay, County Antrim
White Park Bay is a secluded crescent of white sand situated between two headlands on the North Antrim Coast. The three-mile-long beach provides local wildlife with shelter from the winds and is a popular surfing spot throughout the year. Wildflowers blossom throughout the dunes in the summer months and much of the surrounding area is managed by the National Trust. There is no lifeguard service and dog restrictions may apply from Easter until Summer.
Marble Hill Strand, County Donegal
Situated in Sheephaven Bay on the north coast of County Donegal, Marble Hill Strand is rich in wildlife and wildflowers during the warmer months. Since the beach is an inlet and quite shallow, the water gradually heats up from the sun making it one of the few Northern Ireland beaches to have warm water. There are many nearby facilities and a lifeguard service operates from June until September.
Tyrella Beach, County Down
Tyrella Beach is located at the edge of the Dundrum Bay sand dune conservation area. The golden sand runs for two kilometres and offers beachgoers views of the Mourne Mountains. This beach is a car-free zone so it’s perfect for long strolls along the water or sunbathing. Wildflowers, animals and birds populate the dune areas and there is plenty of fish. Tyrella Beach has a lifeguard service. Dogs are banned between 10 am and 6 pm throughout the bathing season.
Castlerock Beach, County Londonderry
Just a short drive from Mussenden Temple and the seaside towns of Benone, Portrush and Portstewart, Castlerock Beach features a network of sand dunes that make up the Binevenagh AONB. Castlerock Beach runs for 8 kilometres and has a walking promenade alongside beautiful basalt cliffs. Dog restrictions apply from May until September along certain sections of the beach. There is a lifeguard service.
Groomsport Beach, County Down
Groomsport Beach is a fantastic spot for holidaying families. Visitors can relax at the grassy picnic area, there are toilets nearby and plenty of parking. West of the beach, there are tennis courts, a paddling pool, a children’s play area and the fascinating Cockle Row Cottages museum. Groomsport Beach is great for hiking, rock pooling, and bird watching. There is no lifeguard and dog restrictions may apply from Easter until Summer.
Ballintoy Harbour Beach, County Antrim
If you are searching for a dramatic and wild coastal location, then don’t miss Ballintoy Harbour Beach. A popular spot on the Causeway Coastal Route, Ballintoy Harbour Beach is famed as being the main location for many scenes in the hit series Game of Thrones. Visitors can relax at the nearby café and take in the stunning cliffs in comfort.
We hope you have a great time exploring the coasts of Northern Ireland! For any adventure be sure to have transport sorted out so everything can go as smoothly as possible. SIXT has locations both in Belfast and Newtownards, stop in and find the right car for you.