Take a dip in the Atlantic on the West Coast
The Pollock Holes in Kilkee are one of the most unique places to swim in Ireland. The rock pools in gorgeous Clare are over 320 million years old and are only accessible at low tide, so you’ll have to plan your swim in advance.
Ease yourself into the still pools and look out to the Atlantic Ocean as waves crash into rocks in the distance. Pack your snorkel and spot the resident pollock swimming below but leave your wetsuit at home as the pools can warm up to 20 degrees in late summer.
2 | Clahane, Clare
Staying in Clare, discover the peaceful swimming hole of Clahane outside Liscannor where dolphins play in the ocean. This quiet and rocky pool is ideal for relaxing in the water or put on your goggles and dive to see the sea life below. Time your swim around sunset and watch as the glowing sun disappears below the horizon, turning the sky amber and orange.
After your time in the sea, head back to dry land and book in for a round at Lahinch Old Course. The natural rolling landscape makes for a hugely rewarding round and the locally sourced meals in the restaurant afterwards round off a perfect day by the sea in Clare.
Sink your toes into the soft sand and make a splash at Spanish Point in Clare where clear blue water laps against the shore.
With lifeguards on duty during swim season, Spanish Point is also a great spot for novice surfers hoping to hop on a board for the first time. Book a lesson from White Water Surf Company or kick back and relax on the golden strand, watching experienced surfers take on the waves.
Admire the crystal clear water and bright white sand of Dog's Bay in Connemara. The sand is made from crushed seashells and the sea here is protected from currents, making it a smart place to start your sea swimming journey. Stay for the day and watch kite surfers and windsurfers take advantage of the calm water, or pop over the sand dunes to neighbouring Gurteen Beach.
Feel the charm of Connemara back in Roundstone and learn all about the prized bodhrán at Roundstone Music and Crafts. Come for one of the demonstrations and learn how the instruments are made - you might even get a live performance.
5 | Salthill, Galway
The popular promenade in Salthill is a vibrant hub of walkers, sea swimmers and sunbathers on any given sunny summer day, it’s also an exciting spot for an adrenaline fuelled swim and jump off Blackrock Diving Tower. Swimming here is recommended for advanced swimmers as the sea can become more challenging than other places on our list.
Dive into clear waters on the North West Coast
Swimmers travel near and far to take the plunge at Mulranny Beach. With spectacular vistas of Clew Bay, the rocky shoreline is a popular spot for a refreshing swim in the ocean. The water here is sheltered, and the beach is manned by lifeguards during the summer months.
Make a break for the ocean or enjoy a scenic stroll along the strand and look out at Clare Island in the distance. Parts of the beach are covered in pink and red hued rocks so keep your eyes peeled for the perfect pebble, and reminisce about childhood afternoons spent skimming stones.
Swim with views of Croagh Patrick in the distance when you visit Old Head Beach just outside of Louisburgh in Mayo. Keep your eyes on the skies and look for birds nesting in the Atlantic oak woodland of Old Head Wood. The sea here is great for people who want a refreshing swim while the open beach is a lovely spot to relax.
Grab the latest bestseller from Books@One before you go and indulge in a day of reading by the beach.
Near the surf haven of Mullaghmore is Bishop’s Pool, a slice of tidal paradise on the rugged Sligo coastline. This rock pool can warm up to very pleasant temperatures during the summer months and the sheltered pool is in total contrast to the powerful Atlantic out to sea. This is a true wild swimming spot, there are no lifeguards on duty so extra caution is required here.
Savour the flavours of the ocean when you’re back on dry land and order some fish and chips from Eithna’s By The Sea - an institution in Mullaghmore.
As one of the safest beaches on the west coast, Sligo’s Enniscrone Beach is an absolute must for families. Spend time on the 5km long beach and splash in the clear water. Bring the kids on a coastal stroll after or enjoy a horse riding lesson. Book in for a surf camp on Enniscrone Beach and catch your first wave with lessons available for all ability levels.
Capture the beauty of the Sligo coast and learn how to take stunning landscape photos on a session with Gareth McCormack Photography. Choose from a weekend course or weeklong workshop and nab that perfect picture.
Journey to the charming Inishowen Peninsula and dive into the sea at Kinnagoe Bay. Pull the car in at the top of the drive down to the car park and get a bird's eye view of this amazing corner of Donegal. Find colourful seashells in the sand and learn about La Trinidad Valencera, a ship from The Spanish Armada that ran aground here over 450 years ago.
Visit Marble Hill Beach, outside Dunfanaghy in Donegal. This placid beach on Sheephaven Bay is a popular place for beginners to improve their skills and become confident swimmers. Advanced swimmers can head to the north of the beach with its diving area and jump into the picturesque bay.
Learn how to windsurf in this beautiful part of Donegal with Jaws Watersports after your swim. The team here coach you until you’re catching gusts of wind and gliding across the sea.
Known as one of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland, the golden white sand at Portnoo/Narin attracts swimmers all year round while lifeguards stand on duty during the summer months. The coast here is calm, perfect for bathing on a hot day and looking out to the old monastic site on nearby Inishkeel. Take a walk along the pretty beachfront and up to nearby Portnoo Pier for a fantastic day out on the Donegal coast.
Take the plunge on the East Coast
13 | Salterstown, Louth
Just outside the old Viking settlement of Annagassan in Louth is Salterstown, a stunning place to go sea swimming. Walk the sturdy slipway and ease yourself into the sea or leap from the end at high tide.
The calm waters of Dundalk Bay get even more alluring in the evening as the sun sets on the Cooley Mountains, time your swim right and marvel at the incredible seascapes. Stop by The Glyde Inn after and warm up with a seafood chowder.
As the adventure capital of Louth, Carlingford is known for its amazing outdoor pursuits, locals love to jump into Carlingford Lough. Take in views of Carlingford Castle and Slieve Foye before throwing on your swimming gear and diving into the water. Go for a more relaxing entry and use the steps to the side of the pier.
Swimming and ice cream is an iconic combination, visit Sweet Sundaes post-dip and grab a locally made sundae or try the delicious crepes.
15 | Bettystown Beach, Meath
The vast open stretch of golden beach at Bettystown in Meath is a wonderful place to dip your toes in the Irish Sea, especially if you’re learning to swim. The water here gradually gets deeper, and you can wade in until you find the depth that suits you.
The beach at Bettystown is popular with people flying kites and sea fishing. Stroll down the coast after your swim to the mouth of the River Boyne at Mornington Beach and watch as ships sail into Drogheda Port.
Visit north Dublin and swim in clear water at Skerries South Strand with Rockabill Lighthouse and Skerries Islands in the distance. The islands are home to breeding grounds for the roseate tern and you’ll also see the site of an early Christian church. Park on Red Island and walk the coastal path along the beach to find a peaceful spot to step in. Experienced swimmers flock to Springers Bathing Area and jump into the deep water below.
Plan to visit Skerries Mills afterwards, this striking and unique part of County Dublin has a beautiful courtyard, café and workshop on the grounds of the 12th century mill.
Visit Dublin’s most famous swimming spot - The Forty Foot at Sandycove Beach. Take in views of Dublin Bay and the James Joyce Tower. Pop across to sheltered Sandycove, it's perfect for paddling with the whole family.
Head over to Cavistons in nearby Glasthule after your swim, pick up some fresh seafood from the fishmongers and bring home a piece of the seaside with you. This family run restaurant and gourmet food emporium is an iconic part of south Dublin.
Leave the car at home and jump on the DART to Greystones in Wicklow for your next swimming adventure. There’s a lifeguard on duty during the summer months at Greystones Beach and it’s a great choice for families looking for a day out by the sea. Walk down to the village after to warm up with a post-swim coffee and toastie in The Happy Pear café.
19 | Brittas Bay, Wicklow
Sheltered by rolling, grassy sand dunes, picturesque Brittas Bay is one of the best places to go swimming in Wicklow. Popular with walkers, swimmers, and day trippers, many relax in the warm water during summer where lifeguards patrol the beach. Take in views of the open strand and nearby Special Area of Conservation.
Make it the ultimate day out by the sea and book in for a lesson with Brittas Bay Surf School. Take a board out to sea or rent a stand up paddleboard and enjoy this amazing bit of coastline.
Plan a trip to Ireland’s longest beach at Curracloe in Wexford. The 28km long beach has plenty of parking nearby and there are beach wheelchairs available to rent as well as an accessible boardwalk through the sand near Ballinesker.
This part of the Wexford coast is a haven for wild flora and fauna, visit Raven Nature Reserve and catch a glimpse of striking birds and colourful plants.
Watch enormous cruise liners in the distance as you paddle in the waters of Rosslare Strand in Wexford. Only steps away from the town of Rosslare, yet the golden strand and sparkling water make you feel like you’re in another world. The beach itself is made up of sandy and stone sections while wooden coastal defence systems break the strand up into smaller sections.
Swim on the stunning South Coast
Treat yourself to a sea swim at Counsellors' Strand in the coastal village of Dunmore East and experience the charm of this glorious place. Tall sea cliffs flank a stretch of pristine sand as turquoise waves lap against the shore. The protected cove here is great for bathing or taking your first plunge in the sea.
Continue your fun day out afterwards with a feast of fresh seafood and traditional favourites in The Spinnaker and enjoy their sunny deck.
Along Waterford’s Copper Coast is Kilmurrin Beach, a shielded pocket of golden sand along a stretch of spectacular coastline. Park at the small car park and walk down to the water, protected on both sides by large rocky outcrops. Keep an eye out for the nearby blowhole during high tides as the sea rushes in and shoots out the top.
24 | Warren Beach, Cork
Near the West Cork village of Rosscarbery lies Warren Beach, a great beach to learn how to swim. The sand gently slopes into the sea at low tide and a lifeguard is on duty during the summer months. Once back on dry land, pack up your swimming gear and wander over to the Warren Strand Cliff Walk. Don’t leave without a stop off at gorgeous Owenahincha Beach.
Get a real feel for life in this beautiful part of the country and reserve your spot with West Cork Farm Tours. The creative and passionate farmers talk you through their artisan creations and show you how the famous Clonakilty black pudding is made.
25 | Lough Hyne, Cork
Gorgeous Lough Hyne is one of the most impressive bodies of water in Ireland. Take a relaxing swim during the day and later, book in for a night kayaking experience with Atlantic Sea Kayaking to see the bio-luminescent algae.
Designated as Europe’s first marine reserve, the saltwater here is home to unique sea creatures like purple sea urchins. Spot the ruins of Cloghan Castle on the suitably named Castle Island in the middle of the lake and for even more fun activities, walk up the nature trail to Knockomagh Hill for unbeatable views.
Step into the still water in the magical setting of the Blue Pool in Glengarriff. Stroll under leafy treetops on waterside trails to your swimming spot. Explore this amazing corner of Cork, where the Glengarriff River meets the Atlantic Ocean on a striking rocky shoreline. This is one swim that you’ll want to bring the camera for.
Glengarriff is a wonderfully unique place, walk the grounds of The Garden of Re-Imagination and discover the edible and sensory garden – book in for a two course lunch made with ingredients from the garden. For a fun family day out, bring the kids to The Ewe Experience where they can play in the interactive sculpture gardens.
Combine a hike with a swim on Valentia Island and enjoy a swim in the Valentia Island Pool. The 1km long hike to the pool begins en route to St Brendan’s Well and rewards adventurous swimmers with an idyllic setting on the edge of the ocean. This pool is perfect for relaxing in the sunshine and floating your day away, but keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and whales swimming out at sea.
In the jaw dropping beauty of Ballinskelligs Bay lies the tranquil and inviting Ballinskelligs Beach. Visit at low tide and walk out to the sea on soft sand, while soaking up views of the Skellig Coast as you take the plunge.
Make your way to the end of the beach after your swim and see the 16th century Ballinskelligs Castle, built to protect the people of the Iveragh Peninsula from pirates. If time allows, book in with Sea Synergy Activity Centre for a snorkelling tour or go stand up paddleboarding to meet the adorable seals that live in the bay.
Remember to be safe any time you go swimming. Swim within your limits, avoid swimming in bad conditions and speak with local lifeguards if you have any questions about the beach.
Before you take part in any kind of water activities, check out watersafety.ie and follow their guidelines.
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