Ireland as an island is renowned for its splendid coastline and beautiful beaches, and none are more awesome and magnificent than in this pocket of Mayo North where the combination of the wild Atlantic, the soaring cliffs and clean sandy shores attract thousands of visitors each year. The beaches in Mayo North really are second to none. Whether you are looking for beautiful clean white sands for a leisurely picnic, a refreshing swim, fun with the family, a refreshing walk or an afternoon surf, the areas unique and tranquil beaches can accommodate all your needs.
Below are six of the best, though there’s plenty more to discover along the coast!
Ok, this one isn’t actually in Mayo, but it’s the beachy crown in the jewel of this entire area. Just a few km from Ballina, over the border in Co. Sligo, Enniscrone is the classic seaside town, offering an incredible vast strand, a pier, cliff walks, ice cream kiosks, and all that you’d expect in a town by the sea.
Visit Kilcullen’s famous Victorian seaweed baths, get in a round of golf at the well-renowned Ennisrone Golf Club, go horse-riding, try your hand at pitch and putt or bring the little ones to Enniscrone Playground.
But the best thing of all to do in Enniscrone is to walk right to the end of the beach, past the giant Valley of Diamonds, and see where the River Moy meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Swimming is safe and a lifeguard service operates, and you can try your hand at surfing also.
Ross, just past Killala along the Wild Atlantic Way towards Ballycastle is a lovely, wecloming strand. As you approach, on the right is a sandy beach and the stretch on the left offers a haven for children who love nothing more than exploring the rock pools and spotting the sea life. Coastal erosion sadly means that this landscape changes yearly, but it offers gorgeous views of Bartra Island and Enniscrone across the Moy Estuary. While the tide is out, a 5km looped walk will take you around the coast, past the restored Coastguard Station and onto stunning CBI Killala Beach, a real local secret (shh, don’t tell anyone), before bringing you back along the quiet road to your starting point. Swimming is safe on the main strand (but not on CBI!) and there is a lifeguard on duty during the summer months, however, do stay within the designated areas due to strong currents. You’ll also find toilets, a picnic area and you can even park up a motorhome for the night, where it’s even prettier.
Miles and miles and miles of glorious strand. A Discovery Point on the Wild Atlantic Way, Lacken strand is so vast, that in summer when the tide is out, it comfortably hosts outdoor concerts.
The perfect place for children, dogs and grown-ups to run wild and free, and it’s also a safe space for little ones when the tide is out.
It does flood twice daily when the tide returns, so be mindful of this.
Each May, Lacken hosts the Lacken Strand Races, a local event that has run for years.
It’s our personal favourite, not least for the breathtaking vista that awaits you once you reach the crown of the hill on the approach road. Kilcummin, scene to General Humbert’s Landing in 1798, boasts miles of beautiful cliff edges culminating in a spectacular sea cave and sandy strand at the back of Lacken Strand (hence the name!).
While it’s not recommended that you swim here, it’s a perfect spot to rock up to on a warm day with a chair and a book, and savour the incredible surroundings before taking a paddle in the wild Atlantic. It’s also a favourite spot for sea angling and you’ll often see fishermen on day-long fishing expeditions, picnics in tow. You might even spot a dolphin or two!
Its charm lies in the fact that it never gets crowded, so make sure you take the opportunity to visit this North Mayo favourite.
One of our best-kept secrets! Ballycastle is best known for the Céide Fields and Downpatrick Head, and what a little oasis it is in the centre of these two.
But did you know that Ballycastle also boasts a gorgeous little strand, at Bunatrahir Bay?
And it harbours a little bit of magic … wait til the tide goes out and watch the Mermaid’s Fin appear.
If you want to know the story of Erin, Ballycastle’s Mermaid, the answer lies with the locals …
Photo: Ballinglen Arts Foundation
While not strictly a beach in the traditional sense of the word, the sandy lakeside paradise at Pontoon, where the waters of Lough Conn gently lap the secluded shoreline offers a peaceful, novel alternative to the wild Atlantic waters.
Near Drummin Woods, this treasure can be found between Foxford and Pontoon.
This is one of the most secluded and beautiful beaches in Mayo.
Photo: Cuingmore House