Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Guide to Dublin's Beaches

Dollymount Strand

Although Dublin is located on the sea, its coastal status is often overlooked by visitors to the capital.  When tourists think of Irish beaches they often envisage the sweeping shores of Kerry (as portrayed in Ryan's Daughter), the rugged Atlantic coastline of the Aran Islands or the surf havens of Lehinch and Strand Hill.  The beaches of Dublin do not always spring to mind.  They are generally undersold as a reason to visit Dublin.  However tourists to the capital may find themselves relatively shortchanged if they leave without having experienced some of the picturesque and plentiful pebbly coves and unspoiled stretches of golden sand that are on offer.  

This thought struck me yesterday as I paddled through the gentle surf that lapped up on  Burrow beach in Sutton.  It was a calm sunny day and the atmosphere was relaxed and joyful.  It's not often we experience weather worthy enough of a full day at the seaside.  But this was the exception.  If you are lucky enough to be visiting Dublin on a similarly fabulous day make sure not to simply sweat it out in the city centre.   Below is a guide to the great beaches that hug the Dublin.    if, like many, you experience more typical Irish weather on your visit to Dublin do not dismay; the beauty of these beaches can be appreciated all year round. They make evocative backdrops for long pensive walks and offer some of the most stunning natural scenery in the county. 

Balcarrick Beach, Donabate
Balcarrick Beach is a long sandy strand of about 3.5km.  Over the past 30 years a large dune area has built up.  Facilities include a good sized car park, a lifeguard station and public toilets.  The beach is a 20 min walk from Donabate village, which is serviced both by train and by the No. 33B bus.  

Burrow Beach, Sutton
The Sutton tombolois a narrow strip of land connecting Howth head to mainland Dublin.  Burrow beach, sometimes referred to as the 'hole in the wall' beach, makes up one side of the tombolo.  Its golden sands, which face onto Ireland's Eye, stretch for about 1.3 km between Sutton and Howth DART stations.  For a  peaceful seaside experience get off the DART at Sutton.  Disembark at Howth if you fancy a walk around the pretty village and harbour, a traditional fish n' chip supper or a refreshing pint after your day at the beach.  Burrow beach has public toilets and a Lifeguard service.  

Burrow Beach

Dollymount Strand, Dublin 3
Dollymount strand is located close to the city and can be easily reached by bus, bike or car.  Simply head north of the Liffey and follow the coat road towards Clontarf.  It is a very long beach that is popular with walkers, kite-flyers and learner drivers!  Bull Island, a  UNESCO biosphere reserve and bird  sanctuarym is in the hinterland, making Dollymount a popular spot for bird watchers and nature conservationists.  Dollymount strand is lifeguarded from June1-August 31 from 10am until dusk.

Front Strand Beach, Balbriggan
Front Strand Beach is located near to Main Street in Balbriggan. It has a beautiful coastal walkway known locally as 'The Nuns' Walk', which leads onto Blackrock, Balbriggan’s second beach. arnoid Éireann, Inter City Service facilitates the town of Babriggan and the mainline train station leads directly onto the strand.   It is within easy access of the M50 and M1 motorways and is served by the the No. 33 bus. Toilet facilities are provided to the south end of the beach with access for the disabled.

Killiney Beach
Killiney beach is a sheltered, stony beach about 800m in length.  It boasts a beautiful view of Bray head to the South and the exclusive Sorrento Terrace estate to the North.   Killiney beach is popular with locals for fishing and swimming, partly as a result of its dramatic drop off, which allows immediate entry to deeper waters without a long wade in  The beach can be accessed from the car park – although limited parking is available – or by bus or DART.

                                                                  Killiney Beach

Loughshinny Beach
Loughshinny is a small seaside village located in North County Dublin. The beach here is a sheltered cove with an active fishing harbour and a picnic area. There is a car park next to the beach, which can also be reached by the no.33 bus.  It is a 20 min walk from the bus stop in the village.  

Rush North Beach
Rush is a small seaside town in North County Dublin. Its North Beach is approximately 1 km in length. To the southern end of the strand is a small park and an active fishing harbou.  The no.33 bus stops about 5 mins from the beach and there is also a car park for drivers.    

This beautiful cove is a small but irresistible spot that is popular with young families making the most of the  summer sunshine. Of course the main attraction has to be James Joyce’s Martello Tower.  It is believed that Joyce wrote the first chapter of the seminal and highly aclaimed Ulysses from the gun platform on the roof.  Sandycove is on the southside DART line.  

James Joyce's Martello Tower

Seapoint Beach, Dun Laoighaire
 Seapoint is located near to the port town of Dun Laoghaire in County Dublin. The beach is flat and shallow and the area is suitable for swimming at high tide. There are many rocks. To the south of the beach, the sea covers some of these rocks; you should take extra care swimming in these parts. During the summer months the north of the beach is well-liked by swimmers and to the south canoeing, surfing and jet skiing are popular. The beach is life guarded throughout the summer season. It is easily accessible for cars and by public transportation.

Skerries North Beach
Skerries North Strand is a covelike beach, 1.2 km in length, adjoining the picturesque harbour area and the Red Island Coastal Walkway. On a clear day the North Antrim coast can be seen from the beach with a fantastic view of the Mountains of Mourne. Iarnróid Eireann, Inter City Service facilitates the local village of Skerries; the North Beach is approximately 10 minutes walk from the station.  Skerries town is also served by the No. 33 from Dublin City Centre, the North Beach just a 2-minute walk from the bus stop.

Skerries South Beach
Skerries South Strand is a long sandy beach approximately 2.5km in length. There are 3 islands situated off the coast.  The Rockabill lighthouse is some 16km offshore. There is also a beautiful esplanade & ample coastal walkway adjacent to the beach which ends at Red Island.  There is a children's playground and a 100 space car park.  The beach is located a few minutes from the town. Follow the same public ransport directions as above.

Velvet Strand North Beach, Portmarnock
The Velvet Strand is a long sandy beach, approximately 5 km in length, consisting of large sandy dune areas.  The dunes are a hit with kids and the beach has enjoyed a popular staus over the years.  It is located next to a golf course and faces Burrow Beach in Sutton.  There are public toilets located at the northern end of the beach and also a large public car-park .  You can also hop of a No. 32B or No. 42 right at the beach.  

Portmarnock Beach

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