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Beaches near Cork City: Local Knowledge with Highlights & Tips

County Cork has many amazing beaches. 

These include a range of sandy strands to hidden coves that offer visitors a great seaside experience. 

While these beaches are great to visit in summer time, they also have a lot to offer off season too, especially if you want to blow away the cobwebs!

We have covered a superb selection of some of our personal favorite Beaches in Cork in a single guide. 

This article focuses on the beaches nearest to Cork City that are easily reachable within 50 minutes drive from Cork City center. 

Heading to the beach in summer is something many people enjoy and look forward too. Please be aware of the possible dangers being in and around water, especially with kids.

Take some time to look up the advice and tips from the Irish Water Safety Board and always pay attention to the designated swimming areas and lifeguards.

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Nearest Beach to Cork City

Myrtleville Beach

sand castle at Myrtleville Beach, Cork, Ireland
Myrtleville Beach is a great spot for building sand castles. (Photo: brebca via Shutterstock)

Distance Myrtleville Beach to Cork City: 24 km or 15 miles

Time to Drive from Cork City: ca. 30 minutes

As the closest beach to Cork City, Myrtleville Beach receives plenty of visitors especially during the summer months. 

The beach is sandy and also has some rocky outcrops with rock pools. There are cliffs at the back of the beach. 

No lifeguards are on duty at this beach. 

Although people do swim at this location, official information about swimming on the beach is limited.

Myrtleville Beach Highlights

This beach has great views of the entrance to Cork Harbour and Roche’s Point Lighthouse in East Cork. 

There is a well established open water swimming group at this location. For more information, check out the Myrtleville Swimmers Open Water Sea Swimming website

Occasionally there is a mobile sauna stationed at the beach that can be booked for private sessions.

Myrtleville Beach Practical Information

There is no designated car park at this location. It can be difficult to find parking when it is busy here. Keep an eye out for the no parking areas. 

It is possible to get to this beach using public transport. 

There is a bus connection from Cork City that stops 20 minutes from the beach at Myrtleville Cross or about 25 minutes away at Fountainstown Beach. It is possible to walk the remaining distance along the narrow country roads by foot (note: there is no footpath).

No lifeguards patrol this beach during the summer bathing season. Lifeguards are on duty at the nearby Fountainstown Beach. 

Cold showers are available to rinse off sand. 

There are no public toilets at this location. 

Litter bins are provided at the beach. On busy days, these bins fill up quickly. Please take your rubbish with you if this is the case and help keep the beach clean.

Fountainstown Beach

Fountainstown Beach in Cork in wintertime.
Fountainstown Beach in Cork in wintertime. (Photo: letsgoireland.com)

Distance from Cork City: 20 km or 13 miles

Time to Drive from Cork City: ca. 30 minutes

Awards: Blue Flag and Green Coast Awards

There is little difference between the distance from Cork City to Myrtleville Beach and its near neighbor Fountainstown Beach. Both are located very close to Cork City. 

Fountainstown Beach is the larger beach. It has a mix of sandy sections lower down the beach and stony, pebbly sections closer to the road. 

Fountainstown Beach Highlights

This Blue Flag status beach has lifeguard coverage during the summer months and is especially with families and teenagers. 

As well as walking along the beach there are a handful of other scenic walks in the area. 

This beach can be easily accessed using public transport. The bus 220x leaves from the Cork Parnell Place bus station and stops directly at the beach. 

(This is an added bonus for this beach close to Cork City.)

Fountainstown Beach Practical Information

There is a large car park behind the beach that can accommodate a large number of vehicles. It is a very well liked beach, so on fine summer days you can expect the car park to fill up. 

Lifeguards are on duty at this beach during the day in summer (typically for all of July and August, but check locally for more details.)

Water quality information and tide times are available via the beaches.ie website

Public toilets are available at this beach towards the rear of the car park. 

No dogs are permitted on Fountainstown Beach. 

East Cork Beaches

Inch Beach Cork

Inch Beach in Cork in summer
Inch Beach in Cork is located not too far from Cork City. (Photo: letsgoireland.com)

Distance from Cork City: 39 km or 24 miles

Cork to Inch Beach Cork Drive Time: ca.  40 minutes

Inch Beach in East Cork (not Inch Beach in Kerry!) is a well known surfing location located not too far from Midleton. 

It is a sandy beach with rocky outcrops and a cliff area on one side. 

Inch Beach Highlights

This beach is popular for water sport activities such as surfing. Surfing lessons, as well as equipment rental is available at the beach. 

There is a great headland walk towards the Powerhead lighthouse that is easily accessed from the beach. 

Inch Beach Practical Information

There are two small car parks at the beach, one on either side. 

These car parks can accommodate a small number of cars. There is only a limited possibility for parking at the side of the road. In summer parking can be a challenge.

No lifeguards are on duty at this beach. 

Very limited facilities are available. Litter bins are provided, but no public toilets for example.  

Water quality and tide times for this beach are available here. 

Garryvoe Beach

Ballycotton Lighthouse is visible from Garryvoe Beach.
Ballycotton Lighthouse is visible from Garryvoe Beach. (Photo: iluminada57 via Depostiphotos)

Garryvoe Beach Distance from Cork City: 38 km or 24 miles

Time to Drive from Cork City: ca. 40 minutes

Further along the coast from Inch Beach is Garryvoe Beach. This is just one of several beaches along the coastline of Ballycotton Bay. 

Garryvoe Beach is a sandy beach with some stony, pebbly sections near the car park. 

Lifeguards are stationed here during the summer months. 

Garryvoe Beach Highlights

Kids find this beach fantastic. There is plenty of sand to play with, as well as rock pools and a nearby children’s playground. 

Great views of Ballycotton Bay and lighthouse make this beach ideal for beach walking. 

Garryvoe Beach Practical Information

There are plenty of car spaces in the long car park that runs along the back of the beach. 

This beach is supervised by lifeguards during the summer bathing season.

Garryvoe Beach is dog friendly beach which allows dogs that are on leashes to be walked on it.  

There is a disability access ramp onto the sandy section of the beach. 

Toilets, litter bins and recycling facilities are available to the public at this location. 

Tidal information and water quilt reports for the summer bathing season are available on the Environmental Protection Agency Beaches.ie website

Youghal Beaches – Front Strand, Claycastle Strand and Redbarn

The Front Strand in Youghal at sunset.
The Front Strand in Youghal at sunset. (Photo: Stephen Long via Shutterstock)

Distance from Cork City: ca. 47 km or 29 miles

Time to Drive from Cork City: ca. 40-50 minutes

The seaside town of Youghal is spoilt for choice when it comes to great beaches in the locality. 

The Youghal Beaches in East Cork include the Front Strand, which is close to the town. Slightly further along the coast is Claycastle Beach and Redbarn. 

A recent public development in the area has created a new boardwalk that connects these beaches. 

This new amenity is extremely popular and features seating at well spaced intervals along the boardwalk. 

Youghal Beaches Highlights

These long sandy beaches connect directly into one another and are ideal for a long sandy beach walk (or broadwalk if you prefer). 

Swimming is a popular activity here and lifeguards patrol all of the beaches in summer. 

It is possible to reach the Front Strand by public transport (Cork to Ardmore bus service). The other beaches can be reached too, but you will have a longer walk! 

Youghal Beaches Practical information

Car parks are available for the Front Strand and Claycastle. On Redbarn strand cars are allowed to park on the beach. 

Lifeguards are stationed at each beach during the summer bathing season (typically running through the months of July and August).

Public toilets are located at all three beaches. 

Dogs are not allowed on the Front Beach, Claycastle Beach and Redbarn. 

Beaches West Cork

There are some fantastic beaches in the Kinsale area. Check out our guide for the best 14 beaches Cork has to offer in this area!

The Dock Beach Kinsale

Distance from Cork City: ca. 30 km or 18 miles

Time to Drive from Cork City: 45 minutes

The closest beach to Kinsale is Dock Beach. It is just 7 minutes drive from the town center and located on the Castlepark Peninsula. 

It is a small, sandy beach that can get quite crowded during the summer months. 

Rocky areas along the sides of the beach are great for exploring marine life. 

The Dock Beach Kinsale Highlights

Water activities such as Stand Up Paddling and kayaking are popular at this beach. It is also possible to get lessons and rent equipment here. 

The beach is located very close to the old military defense of James Fort. Views of Charles Fort on the other side of Kinsale Harbour can be seen from the beach. 

Charles Fort in Kinsale
Charles Fort is on the opposite site of Kinsale Harbour to the Dock Beach. (Photo: Grantibo via Shutterstock)

The Dock Kinsale Practical Information

This beach is not supervised by lifeguards during the summer months. 

Parking can be tricky as there is no official car park for the beach. Make sure to pay attention to parking restrictions in the area. 

There are no toilet facilities at this beach.

Rocky Bay Cork

Distance to Cork City: ca. 30 km or 18 miles

Time to Drive from Cork City: ca. 45 minutes

Awards: Green Coast Award

Rocky Bay is a family friendly sandy beach located about 20 minutes drive from Kinsale Town.

A concrete slipway leads from the road to the beach providing easy access for those with mobility issues or prams. 

Be careful to pay attention to the tide. When the tide comes in, easy access from these areas can be cut off. 

Rocky Bay Highlights

The sandy beach is a great location to keep kids entertained for hours. 

There are plenty of caves and small inlets to discover and explore on this beach, but be wary of the incoming tide!

Rocky Bay Practical Information

Parking at this beach is limited, and it gets especially full during the most busy day in the summer. 

There is a slipway that leads to the beach enabling disability access. 

No lifeguards are stationed at this beach at any time of the year. 

Rocky Bay is a dog friendly beach, but dogs should be kept on a leash at all times. 

Litter bins are provided but there are no public toilets available at this location. 

Nohoval Cove Cork

Nohoval Cove from the air.
Nohoval Cove is a mostly rocky cove with an interesting history. (Photo: AerialIreland via Shutterstock)

Distance to Cork City: ca. 27 km or 16 miles

Time to Drive from Cork City: ca. 38 minutes

Nohoval Cove is a small, mainly rocky cove on the outskirts of Kinsale known for its dramatic scenery.

Ships used to enter the cove in the past to deliver shipments of lime and slate. The remains of this historic activity can be identified in the ruins still visible at the location. 

Several shipwrecks have taken place in the coastal area around this cove including the Killarney in 1838.  

Some of the passengers survived by clinging to nearby sea stacks during a raging storm. 

Nohoval Cove Highlights

The cove with its impressive sea stacks at the entrance is an impressive sight to behold, particularly if you are looking for some good sunset photography locations along the Cork coast.

Clear water fills the bay here making it a popular location for divers and kayakers to explore.

Nohoval Cove Practical Information

A narrow road leads to Nohoval Cove so there is no official parking as such. 

Some parking is available on the roadside, but please do not block any entrances. 

There are no lifeguards stationed at this cove during the summer months.

No other facilities such as toilets or litter bins are available at this location. 

Garretstown Beach

Garretstown Beach is a surfing location in Cork.
Garretstown Beach is a surfing location in Cork. (Photo: letsgoireland.com)

Distance from Cork City: 39 km or 24 miles

Time to Drive from Cork City: ca. 50 minutes

Awards: Blue Flag Beach

Garretstown Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Cork. It is located a short distance from Kinsale. 

As well as being a popular swimming beach with lifeguard cover during the summer, it is also a great surfing spot for beginner and intermediate surfers. 

Garretstown Beach Highlights

This is a great beach for water activities, such as surfing as well as swimming. Surf lessons and equipment are available here to rent.

It is possible to book private or shared sessions in the mobile sauna that is occasionally stationed at the beach. 

On busy days, there are often a selection of food trucks providing beverages and tasty snacks here. 

Garretstown Beach Practical Information

There is plenty of parking near Garretstown Beach. In the summer, this location can get crowded and car spaces become limited. 

People take to parking on the roadside, which leads to further congestion. 

Lifeguards patrol the designated swimming area during the summer months of July and August. Check locally to find out more detail about when they are on duty. 

Toilets and litter bins are available at the beach. 

Tidal times and water quality information are available here

Dogs are not officially allowed on this beach. 

Garrylucas Beach

Garrylucas Beach is a great location for kite surfing.
Garrylucas Beach is a great location for kite surfing. (Photo: letsgoireland.com)

Distance to Cork City: 40 km or 25 miles

Time to Drive from Cork City: ca. 50 minutes

Awards: Blue Flag Beach 

Located beside Garretstown beach is Garrylucas Beach. This long sandy beach has cliff areas on either side and some sand dunes in parts.

The beach is located close to the Old Head of Kinsale. 

Garrylucas Beach Highlights

Garrylucas Beach is a well liked location for walks. It is possible to combine a walk along Garrylucas Beach and Garretstown Beach. 

Be sure to time your walk for when the tide is low though. Otherwise some areas of the beaches are not possible to pass. 

Garrylucas is a kitesurfing paradise. It is possible to learn to kitesurf at this location, which is one of the best in the country or rent equipment from the Kite Sport Centre. 

Garrylucas Beach Practical Information

Car parking is available along the roadside and the car park adjoining the beach. Most of the year it is not difficult to find spaces here, except on the fine summer days when the beach gets very busy.  

Lifeguards are stationed at the beach during the holiday months of July and August. 

There are public toilets and litter bins available at Garrylucas Beach. 

Official information states that dogs are not permitted on this beach, even on a leash.

Best Beaches West Cork

The beaches Cork has to offer in the west of the county are particularly special. 

It is worth noting that they are located further away from Cork City and are best visited as part of a full day trip from Cork City.  

Here are some of the best three beaches in West Cork.

Inchydoney Beach

Surfing at Inchydoney Beach.
Surfing is a popular activity at Inchydoney Beach. (Photo: letsgoireland.com)

Distance to Cork City: 55 km or 34 miles

Time to Drive from Cork City: ca. 60 minutes

Awards: Blue Flag Beach and Green Coastal Award 

Inchydoney actually consists of two beaches, Inchydoney East Beach and Inchydoney West Beach.

These two beaches are separated by a headland in between. 

Sandy dunes are located at the back of Inchydoney West Beach. 

Please be aware that these are a European Designated Special Areas of Conservation, so be sure to stick to the clearly marked pathways.

Inchydoney Beach Highlights

As well as being a great area for long walks, Inchydoney is a popular surfing location. 

The area is well suited to beach activities like ball games and sand castle building.

Inchydoney Practical Information

Lifeguards on duty at Inchydoney Beach with the tide in.
Lifeguards on duty at Inchydoney Beach with the tide in. (Photo: letsgoireland.com)

Lifeguards patrol designated areas of the beach during the summer bathing season. 

Dangerous currents are found in some areas of the beach, so always follow the instructions of the lifeguards on duty. 

Parking is limited at this beach (It is a very popular spot in the summer that is close to Clonakilty.).

A one way road system is in place and there are often traffic jams as people wait for spaces. 

In our experience, you should also keep an eye out for kids here too. 

They tend to dash across the road between the cars, especially in the area near the toilets and surf school. 

There are toilets located at this beach. 

Barleycove Beach

View of Barley Cove Beach.
Some of the best views of Barleycove Beach are from the (narrow) road to Mizen Head. (Photo: letsgoireland.com)

Distance to Cork City: 120 km or 75 miles

Time to Drive from Cork City: ca 2 hours

Barley Cove Cork Awards: Blue Flag Beach and Green Coast Award

Barleycove Beach is a gem in West Cork. It is a long trip from Cork City, but if you want something a little special, it is worth the day trip. 

You could also tie it in to a trip to Mizen Head, which is located nearby and well worth checking out!

Barleycove Beach is known for its sandy dunes and is located in a very idyllic spot. It is no wonder that it features on many postcards!

Barley Cove Beach Highlights

The clear, blue water and light colored sand of Barleycove Beach might make you really wonder if you are still in Ireland or somewhere a little more foreign. 

One novel feature of this beach is the floating pontoon that connects the car park with the beach. 

(It has been damaged by currents and weather in the past, so maybe sometimes out of service.)

Barley Cove Beach Practical Information: 

During the summer bathing season, there are lifeguards stationed at this beach. As there are dangerous rip currents, it is strongly advised to be extra careful near the water. 

There are toilet and parking facilities available at this beach.

Warren Beach 

Warren Beach on a glorious sunny day.
Warren Beach on a glorious sunny day. (Photo: letsgoireland.com)

Distance to Cork City: 65 km or 40 miles

Time to Drive from Cork City: ca. 70 minutes

Warren Beach or Cregane Strand is a lovely sandy beach in West Cork a short distance from Rosscarbery. 

It is a sandy beach that is backed with boulders for erosion protection.

Warren Beach Highlights

This great beach offers a lovely view as you can see in the photo!

We also found that the boulders at the back of the beach offer some protection from the wind and blowing sand on windy days. 

There is a cliff top walk that can be accessed that can bring you to the nearby Owenahincha Beach (also known as Little Island Strand).

Warren Beach Practical Information

This beach is staffed by lifeguards during the bathing season. There are some dangerous currents in the area, so please pay attention to the lifeguards and local signage. 

There are toilet facilities at the back of this beach and a big car park. 

More information about the individual beaches can be found in the Cork Beaches article above.

Best Beaches Near Cork City

Blue Flag for Beach Quailty.
Many of the beaches around Cork have been awared the Blue Flag Status. (Photo: Alex Tihonov via Shutterstock)

Cork county has over 2000 km of coastline (ca. 1250 miles) along the south of Ireland. So there is plenty of choice when it comes to beaches in Cork.

To sum it up, if you are looking for a beach near Cork City that can be accessed by public transport, then Fountainstown Beach or the nearby Myrtleville Beach is the best option for you. 

Youghal Beach in East Cork is also accessible by public transport, but is a bit further away. 

The Beaches near Kinsale, such as Garretstown and Garrylucas are top choices if you are flexible and have a car.

Google Map of Beaches near Cork City
Beaches near Cork City via Google Maps (Map Data © 2023). For a larger view of the map, please see Beaches near Cork City.

For some really special Cork beaches, head further along the coast to West Cork where you will be blown away by Inchydoney and the beautiful barley Cove beach. 

For more great Irish beach ideas along the west coast of Ireland, check out our extensive guide to the Best Beaches in Connemara.