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The best beaches in Mayo

Summer is perfect for exploring and enjoying Mayo’s wonderful coastline which is dotted with some of the most beautiful sandy beaches in the world.

Indeed, there is hardly a weekend in the year when it’s not possible to head off to walk a beach or find a hidden cove to explore and marvel at the breathtaking views and the interesting flora and fauna along the rugged, Atlantic coastline of County Mayo.

Sunset at Silver Strand, Killadoon. Photo: Anthony Hickey
Sunset at Silver Strand, Killadoon. Photo: Anthony Hickey

Many of the beaches are perfect for walking, swimming and a variety of watersports. However, it is also important to take heed of any warning signs about dangerous currents posted at a number of the beaches.

From Ross Strand, just outside the harbour village of Killala in North Mayo, to Silver Strand, near Louisburgh, at the southwestern tip of Ireland’s third largest county, there is always a beach to explore, and marvel at the constantly changing light that never fails to give new and interesting perspectives on the sea and landscape.

In this guide to Mayo beaches, which we will update from time to time, we reveal some of the hidden seaside gems of  Co Mayo that are well off the beaten track where you can walk for miles with only the sound of the seabirds and crashing surf to disturb the silence.

Ross Strand, Lacken Strand and Kilcummin Strand. Image: Google Maps
Ross Strand, Lacken Strand and Kilcummin Strand. Image: Google Maps

You can walk for miles along one of these unspoiled beauty spots and never meet a soul – and best of all you can return home with a bag full of lovely shellfish such as mussels to round off the day with a delicious home-cooked seafood meal.

Ross Strand – a beach for all the family

Ross Strand near Killala in Co Mayo. Photo: Anthony Hickey
Ross Strand near Killala in Co Mayo. Photo: Anthony Hickey

Ross Strand near the historic village of Killala is perfect for walks or a family day out. Swimming is safe beside the car park area and at its most enjoyable at high tide.

There is a back beach at Ross, too, that worth visiting and perfect for walking with lovely views of Kilcummin Head. This stretch of beach is not safe for swimming.

Lacken Strand and Kilcummin – two for the price of one

Further along the North Mayo coast, Lacken Strand, and the adjoining beach at Kilcummin, are never too crowded even during the hottest days of summer.

Lacken Strand is a sheltered inlet hidden from the wild Atlantic waves by a series of spectacular sand dunes.

Kilcummin beach in Co Mayo. Photo: Anthony Hickey
Kilcummin beach in Co Mayo. Photo: Anthony Hickey

The beach at Kilcummin is one of the best beaches in Mayo for a family day out, and perfect for a barbecue if the weather is good enough. There is a separate entrance to this beach – off the main road to Kilcummin harbour.

Carrowteige cove for a dreamy day in the wilderness

The lovely Gaeltacht Village of Carrowteige (Ceathrú Thaidhg) has one of the most beautiful little beaches in Co Mayo. Carrowteige beach is in a sheltered bay with lots to see and do for young and old alike.

The sandy cove is just a short distance below the pretty village that is the home of an Irish summer school for students from all over Ireland.

There are extensive sand dunes and a small cave under the cliffs and if you have the time the Carrowteige Loop Walk is worth exploring for its view of the Stags of Broadhaven.

Carrowteige beach in Co Mayo. Photo: Anthony Hickey
Carrowteige beach in Co Mayo. Photo: Anthony Hickey

Exploring the beaches of The Mullet Peninsula

The Mullet peninsula has some of the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches in Co Mayo that are perfect for long walks – indeed the beaches seem to go on forever and when the tide is out you can walk for hours without meeting a soul.

Cross beach is only a few kilometres west of Binghamstown on the Mullet and well worth a visit.

Before you come to Cross beach, you will arrive at Belderra beach, Cross, a smaller beach.

Carrowteige beach, Cross beach, Elly Bay and Doolough Strand are among the best beaches in North Mayo. Image: Google Maps
Carrowteige beach, Cross beach, Elly Bay and Doolough Strand are among the best beaches in North Mayo. Image: Google Maps

There is a handy car park and picnic table, overlooking a pretty cove, with a good stretch of sheltered beach which is backed by sand dunes.

If you continue to drive a short distance further along the road you will arrive at Cross beach, a lovely, long stretch of beach with beautiful views of the island of Inishglora.

The beach at Cross goes on forever and is perfect for walking, and by the time you have explored its length, you will be ready for the tea and sandwiches.

Elly Bay, a few miles beyond Binghamstown, is the best-known beach on the Mullet peninsula.

Most days during July and August you can see students from the nearby Colaiste UISCE, an Irish summer school, learning water sports such as sailing and kayaking on the calm waters of this south facing inlet.

This, the Blacksod Bay facing beach at Elly Bay, is perfect for swimming – and in stark contrast to the Atlantic facing surfers’ beach at Elly Bay which is extremely dangerous for bathers.

The white-sand beaches of Aughleam

Aughleam beach on the Mullet in Co Mayo. Photo: Anthony Hickey
Aughleam beach on the Mullet in Co Mayo. Photo: Anthony Hickey

Further along the Mullet, you will come to the lovely village of Aughleam (Eachléim). The village is surrounded by beautiful white-sand beaches that are quiet even at the height of summer.

One of the most popular is the award-winning Aughleam beach, a sheltered strand, which is located alongside the R313 to Blacksod, just beyond the village of Aughleam.

Doolough’s golden strand

In the south-west of the barony of Erris, you will find Doolough Strand (see picture above at beginning of post), located near the pretty seaside village of Geesala.

Doolough is a golden strand that stretches for a few kilometres and has spectacular views of the Mullet, to the west, and the mountains of  Achill Island to the south.

It’s the perfect beach for a family day out and when the sun shines on Doolough’s crystal clear waters; it is an almost tropical experience.

Old Head is uniquely beautiful

Old Head beach, near Louisburgh, Co Mayo. Photo: Anthony Hickey
Old Head beach, near Louisburgh, Co Mayo. Photo: Anthony Hickey

Old Head beach, off the R335 near Louisburgh, is one of Mayo’s most uniquely beautiful beaches. The strand has been popular with families from all over Ireland and abroad for generations.

The sandy beach is the perfect place for families and offers lots of opportunities for those interested in watersports activities.

Children can safely swim and play in the calm clear waters and explore the rock pools at low tide.

Facilities around Old Head are top class, including plenty of free car parking, public toilets, and well laid out walks.

Surf’s up on Carrownisky Strand, Louisburgh

Carrowniskey and Cross beaches are adjoining sandy beaches which stretch for miles, south of Louisburgh.

Carrowniskey beach, located 25km west of Westport, is one of the most popular surfing beaches in Ireland. It has a car park and changing facilities, and, most important of all, a lifeguard on duty during the summer months.

Both Carrowniskey, and the adjoining beach at Cross, are world famous surfing beaches and the best months for surfing are May and June and again in August and September.

Silver Strand – remote and beautiful

Carrowinskey Strand and Silver Strand are located in South West Co Mayo near the pretty village of Louisburgh. Image: Google Maps
Carrowinskey Strand and Silver Strand are located in South West Co Mayo near the pretty village of Louisburgh. Image: Google Maps

Silver Stand is a beautiful, secluded beach, located about 15kms south-west of Louisburgh, alongside the R378, near Killadoon.

Indeed, Silver Strand is easily one of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland – and although remote – it definitely worth visiting.

It is a sheltered strand with magnificent views of Inishturk Island and further south Inishbofin and Clare Island to the north.

Silver Strand and the adjoining Doovirla Beach are among the most picturesque in County Mayo, sheltered by rocky headlands, and high sand dunes.

Silver Strand is popular with swimmers and make sure that you don’t go home without a dip in the sea – and bring a wetsuit just in case the sun doesn’t shine!

By Anthony Hickey

Follow writer and photographer, Anthony Hickey, as he travels around his native Co. Mayo, Ireland.

5 replies on “The best beaches in Mayo”

Shraigh beach at Glencastle, Belmullet, Co Mayo, is a very beautiful, safe sandy beach popular with surfers, swimmers, tourists, and locals alike. You can sit relax and watch your children play in the sand in complete safety. It’s on the Blacksod Bay with magnificent views of The Nephin Beag and Nephin Mor Mountain Range and Claggan Island. You can if you are feeling energetic walk all the way to Doolough Beach making a lovely long walk of approx. 4/5 miles, or indeed an early morning jog. Fabulous place well worth a visit.

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Grandmother, Anne Barrett (Harry) emigrated from Doolough in 1897 to Holyoke, MA. I am pushing my young cousins to go to Mayo next August.
I am The West’s one man tourist bureau in Palm Springs. My grand-da, Michael Dent, was from Bunnawillan.
Now when I tell people my grandparents are from Mayo, the usual reply from an Irishman was “Mayo, God help us”. Not anymore.
Your photos are brilliant, and thanks for giving us the pleasure of looking at them–vicariously.

Richard

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I am from Mayo but I never tought of going to Ballina or Ballmullet to find the good beaches. I am gobsmacked to see all the lovely beaches – and so many of them. I have lived in Tipperary most of my life, but this year I am going to take my grandchildren to see these lovely beaches. I hope we will get some good weather. If not we have rain gear.

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