Beach days are the best days. But schlepping buckets and spades, sunscreen and surfboards, towels and toys from a car park in a land far, far away is zero craic when the sun is beating down and the kids are beating each other.
For a less exhausting, more exhilarating experience we’ve found a handful of beaches around the island of Ireland where you can safely and legally drive right onto the sand.
This type of accessibility can make a day out at the beach a whole lot more enjoyable, and stress-free, not only for families and surfers but for people with mobility issues, disabilities and sensory or cognitive impairments too.
However, driving your car on the beach in Ireland is a bit of a novelty and there are some risks involved. So, before your tyres meet the sand, always check tide tables and never park your car below the high tide line. Check for signage, follow the rules and be a steward for our beautiful beaches.
Ready to feel the sand between your axles?
The Strand Portstewart, Derry
AKA The Coast of Dorne from Game of Thrones! Yup, this National Trust-owned beach was one of the GoT filming locations. But that's not its only star attraction. The 3.2km golden sand beach is backed by 6,000-year-old dunes that are teeming with wildlife. It is a great place to come for a nature walk and to discover all creatures great and small. It's particularly popular with birdwatchers and dog walkers.
Cars are allowed to drive onto the sand, making this an ideal beach for picnicking families or those packing lots of equipment for a day of adventure and activities.
Downings Beach, Donegal
This Blue Flag beach is located in the village of Downings (Na Dnaibh) on the Rosguill Peninsula in the Gaeltacht region. Is trá álainn í, cinnte.
Its powder-soft sand faces the sheltered waters of Sheephaven Bay with painterly views towards the Inishowen Peninsula. Swimming is safe and the water is very shallow for a long way out, making this a popular beach for families with young children.
The fact that you can drive onto this beach is another reason that it is so popular with families. You can pile the car with everything from the deck chairs to the water cooler, to the copious amounts of snacks needed to fuel the fam for a fun-filled, sun-filled beach day.
Rossnowlagh is one of Ireland’s most renowned surfing beaches. It has a fairly exposed beach break with pretty consistent surf that attracts wave riders almost all year round.
But this Blue Flag beach isn't just about hanging ten and wiping out. During the summer months, lifeguards are on duty making it a popular swimming spot. Due to its proximity to the Creevy Coastal Path, you'll see plenty of walkers and wildlife enthusiasts strolling the sands too.
Most beach driving enthusiasts know that Rossnowlagh Beach is a place that welcomes vehicles onto its shore. However, the tides here are notorious for claiming cars so make sure you heed all warnings so your wheels don't end up in the wash.
Inch Beach, Kerry
With its colourful sunsets, soft sand and consistent surf, Inch beach in Kerry could be mistaken for California, if you squint hard enough. The great thing about cars being permitted on Inch beach is that it takes mere minutes from engaging the handbrake to catching those left-hand breaks.
This sweeping 5km Blue Flag beach is backed by dunes, behind which rise the Slieve Mish Mountains. It is a dramatic panorama that becomes even more striking at low tide when the scenery and sky reflect like a mirror off the wet sand. For more splendidness, catch the kaleidoscopic sunsets that kiss the sands in the summer months. Don't forget your camera!
Duncannon Beach, Wexford
The swathe of golden sand at Duncannon beach stretches for 1.5km along the Waterford estuary. South-facing and quite sheltered, Duncannon beach is a popular spot for safe swimming, especially during the summer months when lifeguards are on duty every day.
As you bake in the sun, you can take in the views of Hook Head and the undulating coastline across the shimmering estuary. It's all very postcard-esque, especially with the charming historic village above.
With firm sand and a gentle slope, you can easily (and legally) drive right onto the beach where you'll find disabled parking too. With such good accessibility, it is an ideal destination for those with limited mobility. Wheelchairs built specifically for the beach are also available for those who need them.
Top Tip: Back from the beach? Once you've gotten all the sand out from between your bits, you need to do the same for your car! Get the hose out and wash down - and under - your vehicle as salt water can cause corrosion.