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Dunworley beach near Timoleague in West Cork


West Cork features some of Ireland’s most spectacular beaches from the more well-known Inchydoney beach in Clonakilty and Barleycove beach located at the southernmost tip of Ireland to less well known strands, coves and sandy beaches, many of which are off the beaten track.

Inchydoney beach near Clonakilty
Inchydoney beach near Clonakilty

Inchydoney is a Blue Flag Beach that has often been named Ireland’s favourite beach by international tourists on TripAdvisor. Popular with surfers and swimmers, there is a surf school located there and most recently a mobile sauna. 

Other popular beaches just a short drive between Clonakilty and Rosscarbery include Red Strand, Long Strand and Owenahincha. While Long Strand isn’t suitable for swimming due to strong currents, it’s a beautiful beach for a leisurely walk. Red Strand, which has its own mobile sauna and Owenahincha are both popular swim spots. Travel on to Rosscarbery and you’ll find the Warren, a small sandy beach that’s safe for swimming and located right next to a pitch and putt course. There is also a surf school here.

On the other side of Clonakilty, head towards Courtmacsherry, where you’ll find numerous strands to explore. Favourites with local swimmers include Broadstrand, Blind Strand and Dunworley (pictured above).

Near Skibbereen, it’s worth taking a spin down to Tragumna, where you’ll find a lovely beach with toilet and car parking facilities. The small and sandy Sandycove beach is situated on the coast road between Castletownshend and Tragumna. Ten minutes drive from Skibbereen, along the R595, Tralispean has been described as “a hidden gem”. Ballyalla is a a small quiet stony beach with a pier, about three miles from Skibbereen.

Ballydonegan beach, Allihies, West Cork
Ballydonegan beach, Allihies

Head out to the islands and you’ll discover the beautiful sandy Cow Strand on Sherkin or the many scenic harbours and pebble beaches of Cape Clear.

Located between Ballydehob and Schull, Ballyrisode beach is a must visit, and a wonderful spot for families. Further on, you’ll find the aforementioned Barleycove, a large golden beach backed by sand dunes.

Head towards Beara and stop to cool off at the Blue pool in Glengarriff, where if you’re lucky a seal might join you for a swim. Don’t leave without venturing into the Glengarriff Nature Reserve where the magical Pooleen swim spot awaits.

There are lots of wonderful coves in Beara, and just down the hill from Allihies, you’ll find Ballydonegan beach, a nice stretch of sandy shore at the head of the bay.

Please leave no trace at all of West Cork’s beautiful beaches and never swim alone.

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