Pack your togs and sunscreen and spend a day at one of Sligo’s wonderful Atlantic beaches. Alan Finn looks at 10 of the best
Sligo is synonymous with a number of things. The landscape has been a source of inspiration for many poets and artists, from the rolling fields to the mountains conquering the skyline.
It is the local beaches, however, which seem to take pride of place when it comes to defining what Sligo is all about – after all, the county itself is named after seashells.
With some good weather still to roll around while many of you still enjoy your summer breaks, the possibility of visiting the beach is still very much on many minds.
If you are considering where to relax and catch some sunshine the next time it decides to break out, be sure to consult our helpful guide below of 10 beaches dotted around the county.
This is the scenic focal point of the local village which bears the same name.
Accessible by steps or ramp, visitors can enjoy a comfortable walk along the sandy shore during the day with Sligo’s two iconic mountains, Benbulben and Knocknarea, visible at either end while unrivalled views of the dunes and the village itself can also be taken in.
For those interested in something a little more demanding, a longer coastal walk exists with the destinations being Culleenamore beach and the ancient site of Killaspugbrone.
Strandhill is also a surfing hot spot, being highly regarded by enthusiasts as Ireland’s and indeed even one of Europe’s best surfing locations.
If surfing or a walk along the coast isn’t your thing, majestic views can still be enjoyed while sitting down to a meal in Shells cáfe, outside The Strand Bar or cooling down with an ice-cream from Mammy Johnson’s while the mesmerising sunset is also not to be missed on the right evening.
While there is plenty of fun to be had on Strandhill beach, visitors are also warned that swimming is strictly prohibited due to the strong rip current.
This area has not just one but three beaches to enjoy.
The first beach, the one we all know and recognise from people flocking to it during a heat wave, is the safest and smallest beach with a shoreline of just 400m. It is easily accessible by steps or ramp and is patrolled by a lifeguard during bathing season.
Parking is available nearby, but can also be reached on foot with a beautiful coastal walk connecting the beach and the village. The path can be found right outside the RNLI Sligo Lifeboat Station.
The second beach is accessible by ramp from the main car park. It is arguably the most scenic of the three with plenty to see such as Benbulben mountain, Sligo Bay, Blackrock Lighthouse and Strandhill coast. Knocknarea could also be visible if conditions suit.
The third beach is the most secluded of the three. This beach is ideal for those who want to enjoy a quiet stroll away from the crowds, but visitors must note that it can only be explored on foot as bikes, quads and cars are all prohibited from driving on the dunes as it is a protected area of natural beauty.
The third beach can only be accessed via the second beach or the nearby Lower Rosses road. Magnificent views of Sligo Bay and Oyster Island can be enjoyed on your way to the coastal walk.
If you fancy stopping and admiring those sights before or after visiting the beaches, all the pubs and restaurants dotted along the promenade offer sensational views.
A hidden gem of north Sligo. This beach is secluded and somewhat off the beaten track, but is absolutely worth seeking out.
It can found by travelling through Drumcliffe and taking a left turn for Carney. Soon after Carney a left turn heads down to the beach – which isn’t signposted.
When you arrive you will be greeted by a wonderful view of Drumcliffe Bay and the mountain ranges of Sligo.
The beach provides a leisurely walk for all. And for those looking for something a little more exhilarating, it is also a popular spot for kite surfing.
There is ample parking at the beach just off the road.
This Templeboy location is one half of a terrific 4km coastal walk in west Sligo. This beach is proof that Sligo’s iconic mountains can be seen from just about any shore in the county and complement their stature, both physical and legendary.
The beach offers a tranquil experience of watching the Atlantic waves and which can be enjoyed from the rocks or the magnificent Beach Bar.
This beach can accessed just outside the front entrance of the bar where visitors can find ample parking as well as a camp site should you plan an overnight or weekend stay. To find the entrance, simply drive along the N59 as far as Templeboy and look for signs leading to the Beach Bar.
Dunmoran Strand is the other half of the aforementioned 4km walk. This beach is equally easy to traverse and offers beautiful views from the sheltered shore and the high dunes.
This is also a highly popular location within surfing circles for the incredible waves it receives.
The entrance to this beach can be found by travelling along the N59 and taking a right turn in Skreen where Dunmoran Strand should be well signposted.
A car park is available for visitors, and lifeguards are on duty during the summer.
The beach in Enniscrone boasts one of the longest stretches of sand in the county at 5km. It is a very popular area for a variety of activities including swimming, stand-up paddleboarding and surfing lessons.
This beach boasts beautiful, natural scenary such as the undisturbed view of Kilalla Bay as well as the unique man-made structure of the 19th century bath house.
There are also handy amenities just outside the beach for food, accommodation and a playground.
The beach is also renowned as one of Sligo’s safest beaches and part of it is patrolled by a lifeguard during the summer.
The car park can be found by turning right at Tracey’s Cáfe upon entering the village.
Head for Carty’s Strand, the beach on Coney Island, if you want some peace. First, check the tide times by texting CONEY to 51155 – you don’t want to get caught by the tide while driving over to or back from the island. The beach is on the opposite side of the island to where you arrive by car.
Reaching the island can also be done so by boat. Upon leaving the pier, take a right turn and walk by the bungalows and water mill and before long the beach will be visible.
It is a special, tranquil place which delivers a level of undisturbed peace that can’t be found on any mainland beach.
Mullaghmore has a beautiful, family friendly beach, with fantastic views of Donegal to the north and, of course, Ben Bulben to the south.
The beach has lifeguards from June to September. It’s also wheelchair accessible.
The village is nearby, with public toilets and great places to eat, and the majestic Classiebawn Castle just a couple of minutes away, adding to the incredible vista.
The beach is easily accessed from the R279, just before entering the village of Mullaghmore, which itself provides plenty of parking and a wonderful pier walk.
This north Sligo gem is a beach of significance in more ways than one.
Streedagh is yet another popular surfing location thanks to the nature of the reef breaks, which often create ideal conditions, as well as always being the great destination for a leisurely walk.
This beach is also the site of three Spanish Armada shipwrecks. The ships were broken up on the beach during a storm in 1588 while trying to make it back to Spain. The locals welcomed the stricken Spanish sailors by attacking them and stealing their possessions.
Keep an eye out for interesting rocks at Streedagh – the area is known for its large number of fossils.
To find the beach, simply take the N15 to Grange and keep an eye out for the signpost for the L3203 to Streedagh and keep following the signposts. There’s a car park at the entrance, but be careful – it can flood at high tide.
This idyllic beach is located outside Strandhill.
A tranquil area, Culleenamore is very much unlike its neighbouring beach as it is known for being quieter and always quite calm as a result of the ocean never swelling around it.
This beach was once the location of horse racing due to the winding shoreline, and the hills overlooking it provided a natural stand for spectators.
Though this spectacle no longer takes place, it does remain a favourite location for dog walkers, and if you are particularly lucky you will see a large colony of seals relaxing during a particularly low tide.
To find the beach, drive out of the the village on the R292 towards Balli-
sodare. After leaving the village and as you descend down a small hill, keep an eye open for your first right hand turn, which will lead to the car park at the beach.