Best Beaches Clare – Wild Atlantic Way
Best Beaches Clare – Wild Atlantic Way
The coastline of Co Clare, Ireland, makes up a good portion of the Wild Atlantic Way and has a number of beaches which are great for swimming, surfing and walking. You can drive the route in a day with stops at a few beaches. If you can spend longer in Clare you will have time to veer off the coastal route and see some of the other treasures of the county within a short distance.
Chief among these is the amazing Karst limestone landscape of the Burren, an area with unique ecology and ancient structures such as Poulnabrone Dolmen, where guided walks are available. Clare has castles such as world-famous Bunratty with its folk park and the smaller Craggaunowen with the living past experience. You could also take in a traditional music session in a village-like Doolin, from where you can take a ferry to the Aran Islands (look at our Islands blog). At the southern tip of Co Clare, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean is Loop Head and its famous lighthouse while at the northern end you’ll get great views of Galway Bay and Connemara in the distance. At present no beaches in Co Clare have beach wheelchairs available. Some have access via ramps.
Kilkee is one of Co Clare’s most popular resorts and its beach is protected by a reef, giving a crescent-shaped golden strand. The beach has been a destination since Victorian times and the town grew around it with lots of accommodation and caravan parks. There is a lifeguard on duty in summer and ramps for wheelchair access.
The rock pools at the Pollock Holes are one of the best free swimming spots in Ireland. These are 3 large natural rock pools for safe sheltered sea swimming. The pools range in size up to 50 M long and the locals come for a swim when the tide is on way out. A great place for children to learn to snorkel, and see the small pollock fish at the bottom of the pools. For an adrenalin rush for teenagers, the diving boards nearby called ‘Newfoundout’ allowing diving from up to 13 meters into the sea. Take the cliff walk to the west end of the beach, where Richard Harris the actor used to walk. To the south is Loop Head and the lighthouse, a great place to cycle to along the flat countryside, with the Shannon estuary on one side of the peninsula and the Atlantic waves on the other.
Kilkee is accessed by the N67 from Ennis or if coming from the south take the Shannon Ferry from Tarbert in Kerry to Killimer in Clare.
GPS. Lat 52.6785, Long 09.6507
2. Doonbeg Beach
Doonbeg beach, just off the R67, is south of the village of the same name and of Doonbeg Golf Resort. This is a lovely sandy Blue Flag beach over 300m long. It’s a paradise for surfers, walkers, beach anglers and picnickers. It’s not very safe for swimming due to cross-currents but there is a lifeguard on duty in the summer. The car park is at the back entrance to the hotel and there is a short gravel path down to the beach.
The dunes are a special area of conservation and of ecological importance. The limited access makes it difficult for wheelchair users.
GPS:- Lat. 52.7372, Long. 09.5285
3. Spanish Point
Spanish Point near Miltown Malbay has a fine 700m long sandy beach with a rocky shore to the north. It’s a quiet, remote and rather a windy beach, great for good swimmers and also for surfers. For nature lovers, there are lots of birds to be seen feeding on the shoreline and a wide variety of seaweeds, shellfish and plants on the rocks. There is a ramp for limited beach access.
GPS:- Lat. 52.8466, Long. 09.4397
4. White Strand, Miltown Malbay
White Strand Blue Flag beach just north of Spanish Point is small compared to the other Clare beaches at 300m long with a secluded white sandy strand and rocky shore. The beach is a very popular swimming spot in summer when it has a lifeguard. The car park has a disabled parking area and a ramp over the stones at the top of the beach aids disabled access. Dogs are allowed on a lead before 11 am and after 6 pm only in summer.
GPS:-Lat. 52.8682, Long. 09.4284
Lahinch is famous for its links golf course and 1.5km long sandy beach. It’s a world-class surfing destination year-round and in winter the record-breaking waves attract professional surfers with some making their homes here. The beach is so long it never feels crowded and it’s a great place to walk your dog. The town backs onto the beach with lots of restaurants, shops and cafes. A long car park fronts the boulders at the top of the beach with easy access to the beach down the steps past the boulders and a ramp for disabled access. Pre-book a surfing lesson, equipment or private tuition here.
There’s a lifeguard in summer, toilets and other services.
GPS:- Lat. 52.9317. Long. 09.3540
6. Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are the best-known feature on the Clare coast and signposted from all routes. There is no beach here – obviously. The Cliffs are one of the most iconic and visited sites in Ireland so we suggest arriving early (before 10 am) or much later (after 4 pm) to avoid the busiest times. An excellent visitor centre and car park are provided for visitors. In Summer the Cliffs are open from 9 am to 8 pm in summer. There is no to visit the Cliffs but you do pay for the car park with all-day parking opposite the Cliffs for up to €10. Book tickets online as it’s cheaper. Option to park 1 km away at Guerin’s Path for €5 and walk to the cliffs. To see the Cliffs of Moher from the water take a boat trip from Doolin for a view of the spectacular cliffs. Climb some nearby cliffs with an expert local guide, kayak down a river or walk the length of the Cliffs of Moher.
7 . Fanore Beach
Fanore Beach in the Burren region of north-west Clare is a 300m long strand with a broad expanse of sand dunes just north of Doolin village. The golden sandy strand is one of the quieter beaches in Clare and is popular with surfers, walkers and swimmers although it can be windy. It’s backed by the limestone cliffs of the Burren and its unique ecology. There is a lifeguard in summer but other facilities are limited so it’s best to bring a picnic.
GPS:- Lat. 53.1116, Long. 09.2910
8. Traught Beach, Co Galway!
Traught Beach( Trách) is in Co Galway, but very close to Co Clare. This Blue Flag sandy beach overlooking Galway Bay is about 1.2km long and is suited to families with young children. It takes some time to get out to deep water when the tide is out. It’s in a Special Area of Conservation. The beach is down a laneway and about 10 mins drive west of the beautiful town of Kinvara. A lifeguard is on duty in summer. There is a car park but no food facilities so bring a picnic. The beautiful thatch cottage in the photo above is on the road down to the beach and sells potatoes in season.
GPS:- Lat. 53.1721. Long. 08.9862799