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Youghal Beach: The Sandy Coastline in East Cork

Youghal is a seaside town in County Cork. The charming town is located in the east of the county and its many old buildings that date back centuries reflect its long and vibrant history.

It is also one of the locations in Ireland’s Ancient East tourist trail. 

When it comes to the best beaches in Cork, Youghal certainly has a lot to offer!

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Youghal in County Cork

In the mid 20th century, this was a very popular tourist location, particularly for families from Cork City and County.

The town, with its several beaches could be easily reached by train as a day trip from Cork City in those days.

Unfortunately, the rail connection was closed in the 1970s. However the enduring charm of Youghal and its beaches still continue to draw people each year.  

Youghal Beaches

The beaches of Youghal offer superb amenities to the public.

People from near and far travel to Youghal each year to experience the long, sandy beaches located so close to the town.

With easy access, especially thanks to the new Eco Boardwalk and generally good Youghal beach parking options, these beaches are well liked by families and people with reduced mobility.

Aerial view of the Front Strand in Youghal, County Cork.
Aerial view of the Front Strand in Youghal, County Cork. (Photo: Kieran Moore via Shutterstock)

How many beaches are there in Youghal?

There is not just one beach in Youghal, there are in fact four that are located either in, or in very close proximity to Youghal Town (The Mall Beach, Youghal Front Strand, Claycastle Beach and Redbarn Strand). 

The three beaches merge into one another along a 5km south east facing stretch of shoreline.

  • Youghal Front Beach is closest to Youghal town. This beach is also known as Youghal Main Strand 
  • Claycastle Beach lies between Youghal Front Beach and Redbarn Strand.
  • Redbarn Strand is situated furthest along the coast. 

The other beach is the Mall Beach. While it is the smallest, it is also located closest to the center of Youghal, right to the Town Hall known as the Mall House. 

Front Strand Beach Youghal

Where is the Front Strand?

The Front Strand is located within walking distance of Youghal Town in East Cork. It is situated close to the mouth of the River Blackwater which flows through Youghal.

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

Front Strand – How do I get there?

Distance Front Strand Beach to Cork City: 47 km or 29 miles

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

The Front Strand can be reached by car from Cork in less than an hour.

Typically the journey takes about 45 minutes, but this can increase if traffic is heavy. Please see the map below for Youghal Beach directions. 

It is also possible to reach Youghal from Cork using the 260 bus route. 

Google Map of the directions from Cork city to the Front Strand in Youghal. You will find a bigger map for Front Strand Youghal here.

Is parking available at Youghal Front Strand?

There is nearby parking available for anyone who wishes to drive to the Front Strand.

Two car parks serve the beach and there are some roadside parking options as well. 

No cars are allowed on the beach itself. 

Are there public toilets at Front Strand?

Toilets are located close to the Front Stand and are available for public use. 

What facilities are at Front Strand?

The lighthouse at the Youghal Town side of the the Front Strand.
The lighthouse at the Youghal Side of the the Front Strand. (Photo: DAJ Holmes via Shutterstock)

During the summer bathing season (roughly from June to the end of August) lifeguards are stationed at this beach during the day.

People are advised to swim within the designated lifeguarded zone. 

Litter bins and some recycling facilities are available at the beach.

This area is considered to be a Natural Sensitive Area, so please remove all litter when you leave the beach. 

Can you swim at Front Strand?

Yes, it is possible to swim at the Front Strand in Youghal.

The beach only has lifeguards on duty during the summer months though.

Always keep your own swimming capabilities in mind before you enter the water.

Adverse weather or tidal conditions can overpower even strong swimmers. 

What is the water quality like at Front Strand Beach?

The Front Strand bathing season water quality assessments are available here.

Water quality is frequently tested during the summer months. 

Information about estimated tidal times in the area are also available from the same website. 

Are dogs allowed on Front Strand beach?

Dogs, even on a leash, are not permitted on the Front Strand Beach.

Claycastle Beach

Claycastle Beach near Youghal with the tide in.
Claycastle Beach near Youghal with the tide in. (Photo. Algirdas Gelazius via Shutterstock)

Where is the Claycastle Beach?

Claycastle Beach is situated in the mid way along the stand 5 km strip of coastline near Youghal.

On one side it is bordered by the Front Strand, while on the other side lies Redbarn Strand.  

Claycastle Beach – how do I get there?

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

Time to Drive from Cork City: ca. 30 minutes

Claycastle Beach is roughly 40 minutes drive from Cork, depending on traffic. Directions for Claycastle Beach are outlined in the map. 

Google Map with directions direct to Claycastle Beach in East Cork. Click the link for a larger map of Claycastle Beach in Cork.

What is Claycastle Beach parking like?

A public car park is available just behind the beach, while the beach itself is a car-free zone. 

Are there public toilets at Claycastle Beach?

Public toilet facilities are located close to the beach. 

What facilities are at Claycastle Beach?

Lifeguards are stationed on this beach during the summer bathing season. Check the information at the beach to see what times they are on duty. 

Litter bins are provided for waste and some recycling facilities are also located in the area near the beach.  

Can you swim at Claycastle Beach?

Yes, it is possible to swim at Claycastle Beach. Lifeguards are only on duty during the summer bathing season.

At other times of the year, there is no lifeguard cover provided. 

Please always prioritize safety when near water.

Before entering the water, it is important to assess your own capabilities, the weather and tidal conditions for the particular occasion.

More general information about water safety can be found here.  

What is the water quality like at Claycastle Beach?

Claycastle Beach is one of the beaches where the summer season water quality is regularly assessed. To access these reports, as well as historical restrictions, use the following link

Are dogs allowed on Claycastle Beach?

No, dogs are not permitted on Claycastle Beach.

Redbarn Beach Youghal

Where is Redbarn Beach?

Redbarn Beach is at the far end of the long, sandy stretch of 5 km coastline outside Youghal in East Cork. 

Redbarn Beach – How do I get there?

Distance Redbarn Beach to Cork City: 46 km or 29 miles

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

Typically it takes about 40 minutes to reach Redbarn Beach from Cork City.

When the traffic is heavy, it can take closer to 50 minutes or so. The map below shows the location of Redbarn Beach. 

Google Map of the route from Cork City to Redbarn Beach in East Cork. Click on the Redbarn Strand Cork map for a bigger version.

What is Redbarn Beach parking like?

There is very limited parking along the road near the entrance to Redbarn.

Cars are allowed to park on this beach (on the southern side of the entrance to the beach). 

Are there public toilets at Redbarn Beach?

There are public toilet facilities at Redbarn. These are located behind the beach on the southern/far side of the Redbarn Caravan park. 

What facilities are at Redbarn Beach?

During the summer season, this beach has lifeguards on duty during the day (please check locally for the exact times).

Can you swim at Redbarn Beach?

It is possible to swim at Redbarn Beach. The designated swimming area is guarded by lifeguards only during the summer bathing season.

Caution is advised before entering the water at any time.

Even on beaches that are typically suitable for swimming, weather and tidal conditions may sometimes be hazardous.

Redbarn Beach can be rough and wild at times. 

People often overestimate their own abiliites and this is especially true when it comes to swiming.

For more essential information about staying safe in Irish waters, please search through the Irish Water Safety Website

What is the bathing season water quality at Redbarn Beach?

During the summer bathing season, the water quality reports from Redbarn Beach can be accessed via the Environmental Protection Agency beaches website. The same link also provides information about the Youghal beach tide times for Redbarn Beach. 

Are dogs allowed on Redbarn Beach?

Dogs are not officially allowed on Redbarn beach. 

The Mall Beach Youghal

Right in the centre of Youghal Town is the Mall Beach. This small, sandy beach is an unusual addition to such a bustling town.

Visitors to the town will find it hard to miss this beach as it is located beside the Youghal Visitor Centre. 

This sandy beach is popular with families and people regularly stop by and enjoy the beach setting for a short while before getting back to business in the town.

As the beach is not very large, it can get crowded on warm summer days. 

There are no additional facilities at this beach such as a lifeguard during the summer months or public toilets. 

Youghal Beach FAQs

What is the Youghal Boardwalk?

The new Youghal Boardwalk
The popular Youghal Boardwalk is one of the nicest in the country! (Photo: morrison via Shutterstock)

Recent local initiatives with the help of Cork County Council to improve the accessibility of the beaches has led to the development of the Youghal Eco Boardwalk.

This structure is thought to be one of the longest seafront boardwalks in the country. 

Over the space of a few years, the boardwalk has been built in sections and now stretches from Redbarn Beach, as far as the Front Strand in Youghal. 

The 2 m wide wooden planks allow easy beach access and beach views for people with mobility issues, wheelchair users and buggies for kids. (Many people also praise the possibility of being able to go for a beach walk without getting too sandy!) 

There are multiple access points to the board walk and seating possibilities are well spaced at intervals along the route. The sheltered seating enables you to sit, rest and enjoy the view!

It is a popular local walking spot throughout the year, regardless of the weather. It is good to know that it is an exposed spot especially in winter. 

As well as encouraging people to use and enjoy their local amenities, this boardwalk also provides pedestrian access from the beaches to Youghal town and is a welcomed amenity in the area.  

Front Strand by Public Transport

There is a regular bus service (Number 260) departing from Cork City serving Youghal and Ardmore in County Waterford. More details about this Youghal Beach bus schedule is available from Bus Éireann.  

Where can I find Youghal beach weather information?

Reasonably accurate weather forecasts for the Youghal area can be generally found on the YR website. This will help you to get an idea of what the upcoming weather may be like before heading to Youghal.

Things to do in Youghal 

Walk the Boardwalk

Youghal Beach Promenade by the Front Strand in Youghal.
Youghal Beach Promenade by the Front Strand in Youghal. (Photo: morrison via Shutterstock)

If you like beaches, then one of the popular outings that locals in youghal do is walk the entire length of the boardwalk along the length of the three beaches.

This can be followed by a trip to a cafe or the Quality Hotel Youghal for some food. 

Ballyvergen Marsh

Nature lovers may want to pay a visit to the nearby Ballyvergen Marsh.

This protected habitat is the largest coastal marsh in Cork and is an important one for many types of wildlife and vegetation.

It is a breeding site for migratory birds. For anyone interested in birdwatching in the Cork area, there is a bird hide located here.

Youghal Clock Gate Tower

Clock Gate Tower in Youghal.
Clock Gate Tower in Youghal. (Photo: Corey Macri via Shutterstock)

One of the most impressive buildings in Youghal is the Youghal Clock Gate Tower.

Built in 1777, this building was originally used as a goal.

It is now possible to explore the history of the building as part of a guided tour and also learn about the fascinating history and development of Youghal through the ages.

Perks Funfair

Perks funfair has a long standing traction with many Corkonians who visited Youghal in their youth.

Perks was founded in 1929 and is still offering families lots of fun in their events Centre.

Activities such as bowling, bumpers and an arcade are just some of the things to keep you entertained.

Moby Dick’s Pub

Moby Dick’s Pub is another spot in Youghal worth checking.

Filming for the 1954 Moby Dick movie took place in Youghal and this small cosy pub is a reminder of this fact.

The pub featured in the movie and was renamed Moby Dick afterwards.

Aura Leisure Centre

Aura Leisure Centre in Claycastle offer pool and fitness options.

If the weather isn’t suitable for swimming in the sea, head to the pool here for some water activities.

Beaches in Cork and Beyond

Inch Beach in East Cork is a popular surfing spot.
Inch Beach in East Cork is a popular surfing spot. (Photo: Jakub Wojciechowsk via Shutterstock)

Youghal is just one of the great areas in East Cork.

For some other ideas about the best beaches in Cork, you can visit our Cork Beach Guide. (This includes the nearby Garryvoe Beach as well.) 

More information about the beaches Cork has to offer can be found in our Beach Guide for the Beaches in the Kinsale area. 

Fancy a trip to the west coast of Ireland, then be sure to check out the Beaches in Connemara as they are truly stunning!