The Coral Strand, Derrygimla
The Coral Strand, Derrygimla, Connemara. (Photo: onlyfabrizio via Canva)

Are there beaches in Clifden?

Clifden is the largest town in Connemara on the west coast of Ireland. It is a colorful, bustling place and an ideal base for anyone traveling along the Wild Atlantic Way

While Clifden may have a road called the “Clifden Beach Road”, there are no beaches in Clifden town. However, there are several exceptionally good beaches just a short distance away. In fact, you will be quite spoiled for choice at the range of Galway beaches with crystal clear water in the nearby vicinity.

To visit these beaches, it is best to have your own transport. Nearly all of the beaches have some parking facilities (although the number of spaces may be very limited at certain beaches).

12 Superb Beaches near Clifden

To make it easier for you, this guide lists the beaches near Clifden by driving distance.

Clifden Beaches in the Vicinity:

  • 2 Beaches within 10 minutes
  • 5 Beaches in 20 minutes or less
  • 5 Beaches in a little more than 25 minutes

Google map of the beaches near Clifden

Beaches in Clifden Area Itinerary

If you are out for a drive and plan on visiting more than one beach, you can decide to group a few beaches together as part of a beach tour from Clifden

It is possible that you will find one beach that you really like and spend more time than you planned. (This has definitely happened to us!) 

The idea of visiting all in an area might not be necessary (or possible in the time allowed), however, it might be useful to know which beaches are in the area.

South of Clifden Beach Tour: 

  • The Coral Strand
  • Mannin Bay
  • Dunlaughin
  • Dogs Bay Beach
  • Gurteen Beach
Dog's Bay Beach near Roundstone
Dog’s Bay Beach near Roundstone. (Photo: Kevin George via Canva)

West of Clifden Beach Tour:

  • Eyrephort Beach
  • Fountainhill Public Beach
  • Omey Strand
  • Anchor Bay Beach

North of Clifden Beach Tour:

  • Renvyle Beach
  • Lettergesh Beach
  • Glassilaun Beach

Most of these beaches have few or no facilities, this includes lifeguards. Find out how you and others can stay safe on Irish beaches with information from Water Safety Ireland.

Beaches in Clifden Area (10-Minute Drive)

The Coral Strand

Gentle waves on the Coral Strand
The Coral Strand with its unusual sand in Derrygimla, Connemara. (Photo: onlyfabrizio via Canva)

About 10 minutes south of Clifden along the R341, you will come across The Coral Strand. 

(Please note: that there is another “Coral Beach” in Connemara. This is other beach is known as Trá an Dóilín in Irish and is located at Cheathrú (Carraroe) about 70 minutes away from Clifden.)

The Coral Strand beach near Clifden is known for its unusual sand, which is not in fact coral. It is made from the crushed remains of calcified seaweed, which is known as maerl.  

There are plenty of rocky outcrops along this beach and when the tide is low, the exposed rock pools filled with marine organisms are an interesting sight to behold.

The Coral Beach Clifden Parking

There is a small car park or layby that can be used for parking. It is located directly on the road and is sometimes used by tourist buses. 

Keep in mind that other than the car park, there are no facilities at this beach

Mannin Bay 

Kayaking in Mannin Bay
Mannin Bay Blueway offer great kayaking and snorkling opportunities! (Photo: Courtesy of Gareth McCormack via Ireland’s Content Pool)

Mannin Beach is just one of the beaches Mannin Bay to the south of Clifden (ca. 10 minutes from the town), others include Coral Stand and Ballyconneely Beach

Famed for its clear blue water, biodiverse rock pools and unusual maerl sand, this location is a great spot to visit not far from Clifden. 

Mannin Bay Blueway

For anyone who would like to do more than just stroll on the beach, the Mannin Bay Blueway water routes offer an exciting way to discover the scenic coast.

Wateractivies, such as kayaking and snorkeling routes have been developed for this area. Competent kayakers and snorkelers with the right gear may feel like attempting these routes by themselves, but there is also the option to take part in a guided experience with a local water-sports company. 

Mannin Bay Parking

There is a small car park located just next to the beach which serves as a viewing point for passing tourist vehicles and the starting point of the Mannin Bay Blueway.

Beaches near Clifden (20-Minute Drive)

Eyrephort Beach

Heading west from Clifden, it takes less than 20 minutes to reach the secluded Eyrephort Beach along the famously scenic Sky Road.

This strikingly beautiful beach with aquamarine water and impressive views of the islands is definitely a great addition to the Sky Road loop. To reach it, you need to just take a short detour at the end of the peninsula where the Upper and Lower Sky Road join. 

The best time to enjoy this beach is in the late evening, where the western views offer unrivaled views of the setting sun. 

Eyrephort Beach Parking

There is a small car park that can fit a few cars right at Eyrephort Beach. 

Fountainhill Public Beach

Fountainhill Public Beach is about 15 minutes drive from Clifden (ca. 11 km or 7 miles). 

This lovely sandy beach is typically quiet, due to its difficulty to access. Enjoy the clear water and stunning views, especially the sunsets in the area.  

(Bonus Tip: If you enjoy the area and would like to stay a little longer, then a trip to the nearby Eco Camping Clifden is well worth while.)

Fountainhill Public Beach Parking – Take Note!

One of the main things to note here is there is essentially no designated parking area. The road is narrow and suitable parking options just don’t exist, so please do not obstruct the road for the locals. 

To access the beach, it is best to walk down the narrow road, or if you have the possibility, travel by bike. It won’t disappoint!

Omey Strand

Omey Strand
Omey Strand  (Photo: DvcDvc84 via Canva)

Omey Strand is an unusual beach 20 minutes from Clifden that is well worth checking out if you are looking for a near Clifden beach walk. This strand connects Omey Island to the mainland at Claddaghduff. (It is the next beach along the coast from Fountainhill Public Beach)

At low tide, the people (and cars) traverse the sandy strand along the designated route between Omey Island and the car park at Claddaghduff. When the tide is in, this route is impassible, so make sure you plan your visit to Omey Strand, when the strand is accessible!

It is one of the places in the area to go for a walk in and there are plenty of other activities that take place on this beach, from windsurfing to kitesurfing and Kite buggying (kiting with a go-kart!).

There is an annual Omey Races, a horse racing event held here each summer. 

There are also two beaches located on Omey Island. The South Beach is a small cove, close to the main Omey Strand, while Omey Beach is on the west side of the island on the other side of Fahy Lough, close to Saint Feichin’s Well.

Omey Strand Parking

There is a decent sized car park located by the access slipway to the beach, which is the best option for parking in the area.

Route to Omey Island along Omey Strand.
There is a route marked with signpost which cars can follow to get to Omey Island at low tide. (Photo: Dave Collins via Canva)

Anchor Beach

Anchor beach is north west of Omey Strand and another scenic beauty along the west Galway coastline. It takes roughly 20 minutes to travel from Clifden to Anchor beach by car. 

This sandy and rocky beach is not particularly well known, but it does have an unusual name. In the sandy shore, it is possible to see a large anchor that originally belonged to a Canadian barque sailing vessel, the Verity.

The Famous Anchor from the Verity

The Verity sailing ship set out from Waterford in December 1889, but soon encountered bad weather and ran into difficulties at sea. After drifting and battling more bad weather, the ship was eventually abandoned before it floundered off Aughrus Point. The anchor was later recovered by local fishermen and brought to the beach. The interesting tale about the ship and its ill-fated voyage can be found here.

Anchor Beach Parking

There is no car park here, but some limited roadside parking is available. The roads in this part of Connemara can be narrow, so be warned that driving can be a little tricky at times. 

Dunlaughin Beach

Surfing in Connemara
Surfing in Connemara (Photo: Courtesy Real Adventures Connemara via Ireland’s Content Pool)

The drive to the magnificent Dunlaughin Beach from Clifden takes about 20 minutes by car. On the way, you will pass The Coral Strand and Mannin Bay along the R341. 

Unlike most beaches in Connemara, this beach combines stunning views and the waves rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean provide a good surf break under the right conditions (when the wind comes from the south west).

There are no facilities at this beach and also no possibility to rent any surf equipment, which makes it extra special.

It is located a little bit beyond Ballyconneely village (the Ballyconneely to Clifden drive takes about 15 minutes) and is the beach in front of the Connemara Championship Golf Links. It might be a bit tricky to find as it is marked on Google maps as Aillebrack Beach

Bonus Tip: 

There is another stunning beach located just next to it, the Connemara Bay Beach, which is another great place to visit from Clifden.

Dunlaughin Parking

There is a small car park here next to the beach where you can park your vehicle.

Beaches close to Clifden (30-Minute Drive)

Dog’s Bay Beach and Gurteen Bay Beach

Dog's Bay Beach
Dog’s Bay Beach (Photo: Big Smoke Studio via Ireland’s Content Pool)

Roughly about a 30 minutes drive from Clifden is the spectacular Dog’s Bay Beach and Gurteen Bay Beach. These two beaches are a short drive from the fishing village of Roundstone.

Located back to back on a sand spit that connects a small island to the mainland, Dog’s Bay Beach and Gurteen Bay Beach are some of the most well loved of Galway’s Beaches. 

Gurteen Bay
Gurteen Bay (Photo: Courtesy Don MacMonagle via Ireland’s Content Pool)

Dog’s Bay Beach is the smaller of the two beaches and faces westwards. Gurteen Beach looks out into the sheltered Gurteen Bay.

Both beaches have soft, white sand, which is composed of finely crushed shells of marine organisms (foraminifera). On a sunny day, the vibrant colors that you find here are mesmerizing. 

The clear, azure water contrasts with white sands and vivid green vegetation of the machair habitat. (This is a special habitat that is found in only a restricted number of coastal areas mostly on the west coast of Ireland and in Scotland. The area is designated a Special Area of Conservation

Dog’s Bay Parking

This popular spot has very limited parking. Two small car parks are located near the beach, but these quickly fill up when the weather is good during the summer. 

Gurteen Bay Parking

There are slightly better parking options on the Gurteen Bay Beach, but again, the demand far outreaches the supply when the weather is good and people head to the beach. Best to visit early or prepared to walk a bit by foot to get to the beach. 

Renvyle Beach

Renvyle Beach
Renvyle Beach (Photo: Courtesy Christian McLeod via Ireland’s Content Pool)

Between Renvyle Peninsula and Killary Fjord lie some more very impressive Connemara beaches, including Renvyle Beach (or White Strand Beach), which is about 25 minutes from Clifden (21 km or 13 miles).

Renvyle Beach is a big, sandy expanse. It faces westwards and offers great views of Clare Island, Inishturk and Achill Island (particularly at sunset!). The backdrop of the Mweelrea Mountains in County Mayo really compliment this beautiful beach. 

One way to experience this amazing setting is by camping at the Renvyle Beach Caravan and Camping Park, which has direct access to Renvyle Beach. 

Renvyle Beach Parking

This brilliant beach has a very small car park with limited spaces. As the road to the car park is also very narrow, options to park on the side of the road are not possible here. 

Lettergesh Beach

Sandy Lettergesh Beach
Lettergesh Beach (Photo: Kevin George via Canva)

Further north, past Tully Cross is Lettergesh Beach (roughly about 30 minutes from Clifden). This sandy beach is another stunning gem in the west of Connemara. 

Tip: It is best to visit this beach when the tide is out, especially if you want to walk along the long sandy expanse as the rocky headlands divide the beach into sections when the tide is in. 

Anyone wishing to camp right next to the beach can check the Connemara Caravan and Camping Park for availability. 

Lettergesh Beach Parking

There is a medium sized car park that is located just at the beach. It is located before a small stoney section of the beach, the rest of the beach is sandy.  

Interested to read more information and tips about this beach? We have written a Lettergesh Beach Guide to fill you in on this great place. 

Glassilaun Beach

Glassilaun Beach from above
Glassilaun Beach Photo: © Gareth McCormack via Ireland’s Content Pool

Close to the border with County Mayo, lies the breathtaking Glassiuan Beach. This beach is about a 35 minutes from Clifden town by car. 

The long expanse of soft, white sand and turquoise water with stunning mountain scenery makes this one of the best beaches in the region. This horseshoe-shaped beach is very pleasant beach for a long walk (regardless of the season!)

Did you know? Scenes from Tristan and Isolde (2006) were filmed on this beach. Find out more about this beach in our guide.

Glassilaun Beach Parking

Parking at this beach is very limited. Most of the year the small car park located at the beach can deal with the demand of the occasional car, but during peak demand times in summer, parking is an issue. The road to the beach is narrow and the possibilities for roadside parking are also limited. 

Clifden FAQ

Where is Clifden?

Clifden is located in Connemara, County Galway on the west of Ireland. It is the largest town in the Connemara region and has a population of about 1500 people

What is Clifden famous for?

One of Clifden’s most well known claims to fame is that it is located very close to the landing site of the first non-stop transatlantic flight by Alcock and Brown in 1919.

Upon making landfall, the pilots recognised the Marconi transmission tower and decided to land in the nearby Derigimlagh Bog, which they had mistaken for a field. Both pilots survived the bumpy crash landing in the bog, but their plan was badly damaged. 

Today it is possible to visit the landing site and the memorials dedicated to this world breaking record. The landing site is located about 15 minutes by car from Clifden (ca. 6 km or 3.5 miles). 

For an insight into the events as they occurred, this article from the Irish Times is an interesting read.

What is the best beach near Clifden?

The Coral Strand near Clifden in Connemara.
The Coral Strand near Clifden in Connemara (Photo: onlyfabrizio via Canva)

That is difficult to answer, especially when the standard of beaches is so high. On a sunny day the nearby Coral Strand is fantastic as you can see in the photo!

Dog’s Bay Beach is definitely one of the best, but perhaps you need to check them out for yourself!

Beaches in Connemara

Connemara is home to some of the best beaches in Galway, and some people would definitely argue that they are some of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland. If you are looking for beaches near Galway or would like to find out more about Connemara Beaches, (as well as the best beach in Connemara in our opinion), then our Beaches in Connemara Guide is perfect for you! 

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