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Perfect pints and traditional music, sure—but beaches? In Dublin? While Ireland isn’t known beyond its borders for beaches, the country is actually home to lovely stretches of sand and world-class surfing spots.
While the best surfing is found on the west coast of Ireland, there are several beaches near Dublin that are ideal for a picnic and lazy afternoon of splashing through tidal pools. If you’re brave, bring along a bathing suit and join the locals for a swim in the Irish Sea. Here are a few of my favorite Dublin beaches, both north and south of the city center.
Located south of the city center flanking Strand Road is Sandymount Strand. This stretch of beach is subject to dramatic tides. When the tide is out, you can walk barefoot along the cool sand out towards the sea. Bring a picnic and see locals flying kites, wind surfing, and walking their dogs.
Further south from Sandymount is Killiney Beach, one of the most striking areas of the coastline around Dublin. This region is quite hilly, and surrounded by some of the best real estate in the county. Expect a sandy beach, chilly but clear water, and views of kayaks and sailboats out in the Irish Sea.
Located on the northern section of Dublin Bay is North Bull Island, a 5-kilometer island home to a sandy beach known as Dollymount Strand. This is a spectacular place for a picnic, hike, and bird watching. Known for wildlife, seals are often seen here during low tide.
Also north of Dublin is the seaside village of Portmarnock, home to Portmarnock Strand. This beach is nicknamed “the Velvet Strand” for its lovely, smooth sand. This is one of the most popular beaches for windsurfers and kitesurfers. They provide excellent entertainment for a picnic and some sunbathing on the beach.
One final option is located south of Dublin city center, near the village of Dun Laoghaire. Despite its name, Sandycove doesn’t offer the same uninterrupted stretches of sandy shores, but it is a great place to scramble over the rocks on the water’s edge and go for a swim. Join the locals who will swim on a sunny day despite the usually chilly temperature of the water.
During a summer trip to Dublin, add a visit to one of these beaches. The convenient commuter train, the DART, offers easy access. You will not only be surrounded by locals, but will witness a whole different side to Dublin that many visitors never get to see.
Further reading: If you’re planning a trip now to Dublin, be sure to swing by our Dublin guide to read our suggestions for budget hotels in the city center. For more on swimming around Dublin, read Jessica’s recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle.