Kinsale is a charming harbor town in west Cork, famed for its cuisine, fabulous views, as well as long and interesting history.
It is also marks the starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way and has some of the best beaches in Cork.
Kinsale is just a short trip from Cork. During my childhood, I spent many Sunday afternoons exploring the beaches in this area. There is so much to see in the area and lots of rock pools for kids to explore!
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Does Kinsale have a beach?
While there is no beach in Kinsale, there are many scenic beaches in the close vicinity, the nearest one being about 3 km away (The Dock Beach).
Regardless of whether you are looking for a beach for a nice stroll and good scenery, or would prefer to get your adrenaline pumping with some surfing or kite surfing, there is an excellent selection of beaches in Kinsale area to choose from.
Some of these beaches are very popular and are part of the Wild Atlantic Way scenic driving route along the West Coast of Ireland.
14 Beaches near Kinsale
In this list of beaches near Kinsale, you will find out more about the most well known beaches and a few hidden gems in the locality.
Here is the link to the beaches listed below: Google Maps Kinsale Area Beaches.
Beaches in Kinsale Area
- The Dock Beach
- Sandycove Beach
- Oysterhaven Beach
- Garretstown Beach
- Garrylucas Beach
- Howe Strand
- Coolmain Beach
- Harbour View Beach
- Nohoval Cove
- Rocky Bay
- Roberts Cove
- Inchydoney Beach
- Fountainstown Beach
- Mytleville Beach
Beaches in Kinsale area (10-Minute Drive)
The Dock Beach Kinsale
The Dock on the Castlepark Peninsula is the closest beach to Kinsale town, just a short 7-minute drive (3.1 km or ca. 2 miles) from the town center. It is a small, sheltered cove with superb views of Charles Fort on the other side of Kinsale Harbour.
This sandy beach is located very close to the historic James Fort and it is even possible to walk to the fort via the beach.
During the summer months, this is a popular beach and can get very busy (especially as it is small). There are rocky areas at either side of the beach that kids love to explore.
Watersports, such as Stand Up Paddling Boarding and kayaking are well suited to this location. For information about equipment and the watersports courses in the area, contact the Atlantic Offshore Adventures, located just by the beach.
Kinsale Beach Directions
This is sometimes known as the “Kinsale Beach”.
For directions from Kinsale to Kinsale Beach, head out of the town along the waterfront towards the bridge across the Bandon river. Cross over that bridge and walk along towards Castlepark or the signs for James Fort.
The Dock Beach Parking
This is a popular spot close to Kinsale and parking spaces can be quite limited at times. This is the case when the weather is fine, but also on Sundays when the Kinsale Beach weather may not be so ideal but people head out for a spin. Many people opt to park further away along the roadside and walk the remaining distance by foot.
Sandycove Beach Kinsale
Sandycove is a small, sheltered beach, which looks out onto the protected Goat Island (or Sandycove Island) at the mouth of Ardkilly Creek. The beautiful, slightly hidden beach is a popular spot with the locals and only about 9 minutes from Kinsale by car (4.8 km or ca. 3 miles)
At low tide the sandy, pebbly beach is visible, but at high tide the water comes right up to the slipway and the beach disappears from view.
Water activities, such as Stand Up Paddling Boarding or kayaking, are popular at this typically calm location.
The Sandycove Swimmers is an active swimming group that ventures into the sea here via the concrete slipway. In September each year, there is the Sandycove Island Challenge swim around the island.
There is plenty of wildlife here as well, don’t forget to search for some of the seals that are often seen in the waters around here!
It is also possible to combine a trip to this beach with a nice walk along the nearby cliffs. (Please note: that extra caution is needed along the cliff walk as there are dangerous, steep drops along the walkway and the route is not suitable for everyone.)
Did you know? The beach was also used as a smuggling location in times gone by!
Sandy cove Kinsale Parking
Parking is limited at this location. There are some areas where cars can park and pull in, please take care not to block the road or local resident access.
If you are interested in watersports of all kinds, then Oysterhaven Beach (about a 13 minute drive from Kinsale) is definitely a good location to visit. The Oysterhaven Activity Centre is based here and offers a wide array of activities, courses and equipment rentals.
Oysterhaven Beach is sandy and pebbly with a gentle gradient and is situated in the sheltered bay, which makes it an ideal location for kids and adults of all ages to learn water activities such as sailing, kayaking, Stand Up Paddling and windsurfing.
(Note: We would recommend other beaches in the area if you fancy a stroll, but this is great if you want to take part in some activities offered by the watersports centre.)
Oysterhaven Beach Parking
There is no car park here, but there is some limited parking along the roadside beside the beach. Please take care not to obstruct the road.
Beaches in Kinsale Area (20-Minute Drive)
It takes about 15 minutes by car to get from Kinsale to Garretstown Beach. This Blue Flag Beach is one of the better Irish surfing places, with breaks that are well suited to both the novice, as well as intermediate surfer.
This long, sandy beach has a gentle slope and is popular with families and people of all ages. Its length is perfect for a good stroll when the tide is out and there are plenty of paddling pools and rocky areas to keep little ones occupied for hours.
During the summer months there are lifeguards stationed on this beach, so please keep an eye out for the flags to show where it is safe to swim. There will often be a few food trucks in the vicinity during high season too.
Don’t forget to check out the nearby Garrylucas Beach too!
Garretstown Beach Parking
There is a designated parking area on the road next to the beach which can accommodate a large number of cars.
The south west facing Garrylucas Beach is another great place to head and it is just south east of Garretstown Beach. It is also a Blue Flag Beach only a short 16 minute drive from Kinsale and not too far from the Old Head of Kinsale.
While Garretstown Beach is known for its excellent surfing waves, the angle of Garrylucas Beach makes it more suited for kite and windsurfing. Its exposed location means that windy weather is very typical for this area and from time to time the seas can be rough (unlike the calm water in the photo!).
For those fancying a stroll, they can either walk the long strand, or saunter the footpath next to the road if mobility might be an issue.
Garrylucas Beach Kinsale Parking
There is plenty of parking at this location. Parking can be found along the roadside in the designated area and the Garrylucas Beach Car Park.
Howe Strand, located 20 minutes drive from Kinsale (14km or ca. 8.5 miles), is a small beach, further west along the coast from Garretstown Beach.
It is nestled in a sheltered cove and is a particularly picturesque location with views of Courtmacsherry Bay.
High on the cliffside is the ruins of the coast guard building, which was attacked several times by the IRA in 1920 during the War of Independence. It was finally abandoned in the same year, after suffering extensive damage during a fire in one of the attacks.
This beach also has unusual rut marks along the stones that are thought to have been made by carts, which were used by farmers to collect seaweed for fertilizer in times gone by.
Howe Stand Parking
There is very limited designated parking available at Howe Strand. Several spaces for cars are available alongside the road close to the beach. The road to the beach is narrow, so limited parking options are available here.
Coolmain Beach in Kilbrittain is a great alternative beach to Howe Strand, especially if you find there is no parking there. It is located about 20 minutes from Kinsale (16 km or 10 miles).
This beach is particularly popular with walkers and it is a great place to see wildlife, especially waders who flock to the estuary.
There are plenty of nice walks in this designated Special Area of Conservation, for example, this is a lovely nature walk in the area that you can do starting from this beach.
Note: There can be strong currents in this tidal area and there are no lifeguards on this beach.
Coolmain Beach Parking
There is some parking along the roadside directly by the beach.
More information about water quality and tides for this beach can be found here.
Harbour View Beach (Garafeen Strand)
Harbour View Beach, which is also known as Garafeen Strand is about a 23 minutes drive from Kinsale.
When the tide is out, this is a large beach that is great for a long walk. It is a favorite with the locals, especially dog walkers. In recent years, it has also become a popular destination for experienced kite surfers.
The nearby restaurant called “The Pink Elephant” has been a popular spot for day trippers to the beach for years and has great views out into the bay.
Behind the beach are tidal salt marshes that are home to a wide variety of salt tolerant plant species, many of which are protected.
Please note that there can be strong currents in this area.
Harbour View Parking
There are some limited parking spaces on the road next to the beach. Keep in mind that there are no other facilities at this beach.
Nohoval Cove is a little off the beaten track and is about 20 minutes drive eastwards from Kinsale. It is a small, mostly rocky cove with dramatic scenery.
The towering sandstone sea stacks are an impressive sight
The clear water here is popular with divers and kayakers. The water can be dangerous here and as there are no lifeguards, it is not reccommeded to swim here.
It is also a great location to catch a memorable sunset framed by the unique landscape.
In times gone by, ships used to enter the cove to collect and offload lime and slate. The ruins of the lime kilns which were used at the time can be seen at the end of the road.
Did you know?
There have been numerous shipwrecks in and around the Nohoval area. One of the most well known involved the ship named Killarney, which ran aground in 1838.
A bad storm blew the ship towards the shore near Nohoval (Rennies Cove).
Many people were lost (as well as the cargo of hundreds of pigs), but some people did manage a dramatic escape, by abandoning the ship and clinging to a rocky sea stack.
Nohoval Cove Parking
There is no designated parking at Nohoval and the road leading to the cove is very narrow offering limited parking options.
Not many people head to this remote location, but on a good day the very limited parking options fill up fast.
In just over 20 minutes, you will reach Rocky Bay Beach from Kinsale town (16 km or ca. 10 km). When the tide is out, this is an amazing sandy beach that is well liked by families in particular.
This location was awarded the Green Coast Award by An Taisce on several occasions. More information about its water quality can be found here.
There is plenty to explore and discover on this beach, including little caves and inlets. It is important to keep an eye out for the tide, as it comes in very far and could cut off access.
Many different bird species are found in the areas such as Fulmars, Oystercatchers and the occasional Peregrine Falcon.
Rocky Bay Parking
There is only space for a handful of cars at the car park here. Some parking is available along the roadside, but this too is limited as the road is narrow.
There is a concrete slipway onto the beach that enables disabled access.
Roberts Cove Beach
Robert’s Cove is a tranquil spot that is well liked by snorkelers and divers in particular. It is only about a 25-minutes drive from Kinsale, but it is also close to Cork City and gets plenty of day visitors during good weather.
The inlet is flanked on both sides by rocky headlands, while the beach itself is mostly sandy. There is a shallow gradient, which makes it ideal for a paddle.
There are some food and drink options around here, including the Roberts Cove Inn. You can also learn to dive at the Oceans of Discovery Dive Centre, which is based in Roberts Cove.
If you want to catch a better view of the beach and the surroundings head for the cliff. (As always, extra caution is needed near cliffs!)
Roberts Cove Beach Parking
There is a designated parking area here and most of the time it can cope with the demand. However, when the weather is fine, during the summer it parking at this location does tend to fill up quickly.
Beaches in Kinsale Area (More than a 30-Minute Drive)
Inchydoney Beach in West Cork
Inchydoney is one of the most well known and well loved beaches in West Cork. (Another very popular West Cork Beach is Barleycove Beach, but this is roughly about 2 hours drive. from Kinsale (110 km or 68 miles)). Inchydoney is located near the town of Clonakilty, and the time it takes to travel from Kinsale to Inchydoney takes about 50 minutes (38 km or ca. 24 miles).
It is a stunning beach and wonderful for a long walk in soft sand.
Surfing is a popular activity at this beach too and there is plenty of space to spread out and play games such as frisbee and beach volleyball. The beach typically gets very high ratings from people.
Inchydoney is a Blue Flag Beach with a Green Coast Award. There are lifeguards patrolling the beach and swimming area during the summer months.
Please note that there are dangerous currents on some sections of the beach so swim only in the areas designated by the lifeguard.
Inchydoney Beach Parking
There are some designated parking areas at Inchydoney Beach, but in summer the demand for these spaces is high!
A one way road that leads to these spaces which can get congested as people wait in cars for spaces to become available.
Tip: Although this is a fantastic beach, the drive from Inchydoney to Kinsale takes a bit of time. (The same can be said for the wonderful Dunworley Beach, which is 38 minutes from Kinsale.)
It might be worth considering some of the other beaches located closer to Kinsale mentioned above as great alternatives!
Safety Tip: One of the things to remember here is that you should pay extra attention to kids as they tend to dart across the road from the beach to the toilets and surf school.
Located close to Cork City and less than 30 minutes drive from Kinsale is Fountainstown Beach. This Blue Flag Beach, which has also been awarded the Green Coast Award, is a popular spot with day trippers from Cork City in summer.
This sandy, pebbly beach is shallow and popular with families. During the summer months, there are lifeguards patrolling this beach.
There is also a walk over the cliffs towards Myrtleville Beach. (This sandy beach is just a short distance away from Fountainstown Beach and well worth visiting, if you are in the area.)
Fountainstown Beach Parking
There is a large car park, as well as toilet facilities at this beach. This beach does tend to get quite full during the summer months when the weather is fine.
It is probably the closest beach to Cork City and is the last stop on the Cork City to Fountainstown bus route.
About 30 minutes from Kinsale and only 5 minutes from Fountainstown Beach is Myrtleville Beach.
This rocky, but also sandy beach is a good spot to explore and can be nicely added to a trip to Fountainstown Beach. (There is a cliff path offering good views between the two beaches.)
There are plenty of different colored stones and pebbles here among the sandier sections of the beach. The beach is not all that big, so it can feel a little crowded during busier times.
Views of Roche’s Point Lighthouse can be seen from the beach and it is a good place to observe boats entering Cork Harbour.
Myrtleville Beach Parking
Car spaces are limited here, especially in good weather as there is no designated car park. Given its proximity to Cork City, it gets busy here during the summer.
Shower facilities are available here.
Beach near Kinsale FAQ
What is the best beach in Kinsale?
There is quite a selection of popular beaches near Kinsale so it is hard to say what is the best one. For anyone interested in surfing, then Garretstown Beach is a must, but if you are looking for a nice walk in any weather, then the Dock Beach offers great views of Kinsale and Charles Fort and it is possible to walk to the nearby James Fort.
After spending time at one of the many beaches in the vicinity, there are plenty of other things to do in Kinsale from visiting Charles Fort to checking out the many tasty dishes offered in the restaurants and cafes or even treating yourself to a stay in one of the hotels here!
Where can you swim near Kinsale?
The nearest beaches that have lifeguards on them during the summer months are Garretstown Beach and Garrylucas Beach (15 and 16 minutes drive respectively). These Blue Flag Beaches are popular locations for water activities during the summer bathing season.
Please take extra care at all times when near the water and follow the guidelines from Water Safety Ireland and instructions from lifeguards (if they are present).
Depending on the location and local weather conditions, the tides and currents on beaches around the Irish coast can make swimming dangerous, so it is best to check locally before entering the water.
Don’t overestimate your swimming abilities and only enter the water if it is safe to do so.
Beaches in Ireland
Do you want to explore some more beaches near the city of Cork or elsewhere in Ireland? The beaches in Connemara and the strands near Clifden have lots to offer, scenic views, clear blue water and soft white sand.