Cross beach, only a few kilometres west of Binghamstown on the Mullet, is one of the hidden gems among Mayo’s many beautiful beaches – and a place we keep returning to at all times of the year.
Before you come to Cross beach, you will arrive at Belderra Strand, Cross, a smaller and equally pretty beach, not far from the historic village of Binghamstown (An Geata Mor).
Surfers, learning their sport, find the waves on Belderra beach a great training ground before moving on to surf Mayo’s big waves in places like nearby Elly Bay and Carrowniskey near Louisburgh.
There is a handy car park and picnic table, overlooking Belderra Strand’s pretty cove, with a good stretch of sheltered beach which is backed by sand dunes. Swimming here is dangerous though due to rip currents and should be avoided.
If you continue to drive a short distance further along the road you will reach pass the new Cross cemetery where you can park before coming to the ancient Cross Abbey graveyard on a hill, overlooking Cross beach.
The ruins of Cross Abbey church, dating back hundreds of years, are in the cemetery, surrounded by weather-worn Celtic crosses and gravestones, that make a striking setting against the wild Atlantic ocean that surrounds the cemetery on three sides.
The sandy beach at Cross has beautiful views of the island of Inishglora – considered to be the holiest of all the islands off Ireland’s coastline – where the Children of Lir are said to be buried.
The views of Inishglora and the small islands of Inishkeeraagh and Carricknaronty North and South look mystical beyond the breaking waves and the entire scene is a landscape artist’s dream.
The sunsets on Cross beach are nearly always spectacular against the backdrop of the small and uninhabited islands, including the Inishkea Islands to the south, just a few miles offshore.
The best time to walk Cross beach is at low tide when you can enjoy the wide expanse of the strand. If you have time take a walk along the Cross Beach Loop Walk which brings you through sand dunes and around Cross Lough.
The beach at Cross seems to go on forever and is perfect for walking especially at low tide – and by the time you have explored its length, you will be ready for the tea and sandwiches.