Gems of Ireland's Dingle Peninsula: Inch Beach, via @TravelLatte

A Dingle Peninsula Beach Break

The Cliffs of Moher. Kylemore Abbey. Newgrange. The Blarney Stone. When you start listing the things Ireland is known for, the things you definitely want to see, the word beach probably doesn’t come up often. Or at all, really. The phrase “Wild Atlantic Way” doesn’t exactly conjure images of strolling on a long sandy beach. But you know what? You can!

Gems of Ireland

Ireland is heavy with history; laden with ancient sacred sites, Medieval castles and abbeys, and Celt and Viking origins. The island is also rich in natural beauty, from the famous Cliffs of Moher and Giants Causeway, to the rolling hills and valleys of the Boyne River Valley. Weaved among the history and beauty is Ireland’s renowned culture. These are the jewels of Ireland, and we will highlight some of the nation’s gems in this ongoing series.

Introducing Inch Beach

The Dingle Peninsula is gorgeous, with rolling green pastures dropping over dramatic cliffs that tumble to the roaring Atlantic Ocean below. There’s a reason the region is called the Wild Atlantic Way.

As improbable as it may seem, the Dingle Peninsula also features one of the best beaches in Ireland: Inch Beach (often called Inch Strand or, in Irish, An Inse). In fact, there are several notable beaches on the Peninsula. So what makes Inch Beach the best of the bunch?

For one thing, it’s a Blue Flag Beach (more on that later), which means it’s reliably clean and accessible. In summer months, the beach is patrolled by lifeguards, and several surf schools offer lessons and rental equipment on the beach. Add clean restrooms and a convenient restaurant, store, and inn, and you’ve got a great beach break destination. The beach features a long and scenic strand of soft sand to sing your toes into and, to top it all off, it faces west for beautiful Irish sunsets.

Gems of Ireland's Dingle Peninsula: Inch Beach, via @TravelLatte

Ireland’s Blue Flag Beaches

Blue Flag is an international distinction given every year to about 4000 beaches and marinas in 49 countries. To qualify, a location has to meet stringent water quality standards, as well as safety and access related criteria. In Ireland, the water must maintain the Excellent Standard of the 2006 EU Bathing Water Directive. In other words, it’s wonderfully clean.

To be considered for Blue Flag distinction, you need more than clean water: Restrooms must be clean, and “porta-potties” don’t count. Trash and recycling containers must be available and maintained, and the beach must be clean of debris (except for natural debris like algae and seaweed). There must be clean drinking water available, as well as first aid equipment. In short, the beach is actively managed (though only June through September), which sets the Blue Flag beaches apart from equally pretty beaches around the island.

Although it’s our favorite, Inch Beach is not the only Blue Flag beach in Ireland. The nation is admirably eco-conscious, so it’s no surprise that there are 81 beaches, and seven marinas, that earned the award in 2017.

Gems of Ireland's Dingle Peninsula: Inch Beach, via @TravelLatte

Dingle Peninsula Beaches

It turns out, the Dingle Peninsula is a veritable beach blanket bingo! There are a few large public beaches, and smaller sandy coves and landings, mostly on the north and south shores. In no particular order, other notable beaches include:

Ventry Beach
Ventry is another Blue Flag Beach, and is not far from Inch Beach on the south side of the Peninsula. It’s proximity to Dingle town makes it the most popular in the area.
Magherabeg (The Mahrees)
North of Castlegregory is an extensive strand and dunes system where you’ll find Dingle’s third Blue Flag Beach, with surf schools and rentals available during the summer.
Brandon Bay
At the foot of Brandon Mountain, the curve of beach popular with swimmers and anglers is Brandon Bay. Though not as easy to get to as Inch or Ventry, it rivals them in sheer beauty.
Béal Bán and Wine Strand
On the north side of the peninsula, near the village of Ballyferriter (Irish Baile an Fheirtéaraigh) are the neighboring beach areas Wine Strand and Béal Bán, best known for impromptu horse racing on the beach in June. You don’t get much more Irish than that!
Gems of Ireland's Dingle Peninsula: Horse Racing at Beal Ban, via @TravelLatte

Horse Racing at Béal Bán (Photo: Dingle Peninsula.ie)

Getting to Inch Beach

Inch Beach is on the southern side of the Dingle Peninsula, between Dingle town and Castlemaine, on R561. There are several routes from Killarney, which is about 42km away. The most direct follows R563 to N70 going north, turning onto R561 at Castlemaine and driving west to Inch Beach. Expect to spend about an hour getting there; longer if your immunity to Ireland’s ample photo ops is low.

If you’re coming from Tralee, it’s easiest to follow N86, turning south at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Camp. (There are no signs pointing towards Inch Beach – or anything – here.) The unmarked single-track road over the Slieve Mish Mountains is the Conreecaher Scenic Route, named for the remains of an Iron Age fortification. The road meets R561 about 1km east of Inch Beach. The 31km drive will take at least 30 minutes.

Bus service is available to Inch from both cities. The stop at Inch is on the Killarney-Dingle route (Bus 288). If you’re traveling from Tralee, you’ll have take Bus 275 to Dingle first, then backtrack to Inch on Bus 288.

Gems of Ireland's Dingle Peninsula: Inch Beach, via @TravelLatte

When You Go

  • Bring your swimmers…and your sweats! Average summer highs in western Ireland are around 64F/18C.
  • There is a restaurant and small store (Sammy’s) at Inch Beach.
  • Lodging options at Inch Beach include The Strand, Inch Beach House B&B, and Sammy’s Camping. There are more lodging options on the north side of the Dingle Peninsula in the vicinity of Brandon Bay, Castlegregory, and the Mahrees.
  • There is a car park at Inch Beach, with public restrooms.
  • Fuel is available in Dingle town, and also in Camp, but if you’ve filled up in Tralee or Killarney, you probably won’t to refuel.
  • Inch Beach has hard packed sand that you can actually drive on. You’re sure to see a few cars out there, or tire tracks along the beach. Be aware that most rental agencies frown on the practice, and driving off road may violate the terms of your agreement.
  • If you’re a hiker, the Dingle Way passes near all of the beaches we’ve mentioned on its 180km route. The gentle but picturesque terrain is home to many trails, detailed in Dingle Peninsula: A Walking Guide.
  • Gems of Ireland's Dingle Peninsula: Wine Strand, via @TravelLatte

    Wine Strand on the Dingle Peninsula (Photo: © Frank Luerweg)

    Have You Been?

    If you’ve taken a beach break on the Dingle Peninsula, we would love to hear about your experience. If you haven’t visited, have we inspired you to include a stop at one of the Dingle Peninsula’s beaches? Either way, please let us know your thoughts in the comments! Feel free to ask any questions; if we don’t know the answer, we can find it! If you enjoyed this post, consider signing up for our updates (All wham, no spam!) or sharing with your friends on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter with the buttons below. (A million thanks in advance!)

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31 comments on “A Dingle Peninsula Beach Break

  1. Pingback: Putting the Dingle in the Dingle Peninsula - TravelLatte

    • So true! We fell in love with Inch Beach, but the horseracing would be something to see. We’re taking note of Bournemouth, too – one more thing to add to our never ending list! 😉 Thanks for the comment, guys!

  2. Honestly seems a bit cold for the swimmers, but the view and that Wine Strand really caught my eye. And I know I’m not the first to say it but, horse racing on the beach?! How about that. Keep this up and I’ll be visiting Ireland before you know it 😉 #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • It really is cold for us – but there were (crazy!) people out there! Along with surfboards, the place on the beach had wetsuits, too, because I’d need a few layers to get in that water! 😉 I’m telling you, David, you are going to love it! This is fair turnabout, though. Your posts on – well, just about everywhere! – have added a fair amount to our To Do List.

  3. A beach in Ireland? No I hadn’t considered that, what an idiot, of course it will have beaches all around it’s a Bloomin island haha. Fantastic to hear they are environmentally aware with many Blue Flag beaches, and thank you for explaining exactly what that means. Great post, pinned, so myself and others can appreciate this area .. and go to the beach! #feetdotravel

    • Exactly! We were like, “wait, a beach?” Duh! And what a beauty. In fact, what a lot of beauties! Being used to tropical climates, it just didn’t occur to us that colder climates would still want to surf and swim. And have horse races, apparently. Thanks for your comment, Angie!

  4. Pingback: The Ancient Gallarus Oratory - TravelLatte

    • Glad you enjoyed it! Hopefully, there’s another Irish trip in your future. And, if you time it right, I bet the kids would love to see the horse races. (We sure would!) Thanks for your comment, Mary!

  5. Ireland is such a wonderful place and you have found a gem of a beach. Dingle beach a blue flag beach, wow! Never heard of this distinction but love it and the requirements that means to be classified as that beach. Reading you posts on Ireland really makes me want to visit Ireland. I have definitely pinned these posts for when I do take a trip there. Great tips and what to take when you go. #feetdotravel

  6. Those beaches are beautiful! I didn’t know about Blue Flag beaches, but it makes sense to try to visit those, if possible. I haven’t made it to Ireland (yet), but your photos are inspiring me to plan a trip soon. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  7. Ireland is pretty high on my list, Rob, so reading your post convinced me even more that I have to go there soon. It seems that you had wonderful weather when you’ve been there. These beaches look absolutely fabulous. I’ve never heard of horse racing on a beach before. It be quite interesting to watch one of these races. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  8. Ireland is so picturesque, but I had never thought about beaches where you take your swimmers (love that!) and actually go to the beach. My favorite photo is of the horses running along the water — beautiful!

  9. I only have a word for this: WOW! I have heard a lot of times about the beauty of the Dingle Peninsula. I would not mind stopping on several beaches. How long do you spend on Ireland? How much time would you recommend? Was it difficult to drive on left side of the road? #WeekendWanderlust

    • Hi Ruth – We spent 10 days on that trip, but we made the mistake of only allowing one day for the Dingle Peninsula. Honestly, driving on the left was not hard. It seemed odd at first, but you get used to it really fast. What we didn’t get used to were all of the roundabouts (!!!!) and the single track roads. Luckily, not much traffic out in the country. We said WOW around almost every corner! Such a beautiful country. Let us know if you have more questions!

  10. I stopped at Inch Beach while on a day trip to Dingle from Killarney. It was a rainy and misty October day. Quite chilly, too! I remember popping into the little cafe for a warm drink. Despite the weather, surfers were still riding the waves. I didn’t know at the time that it was a Blue Flag beach, but having been there, I certainly see why it has earned the distinction. It really was a beautiful beach — even in the rain! #WeekendWanderlust

    • Crazy Irish surfers! Even on our sunny visit, we thought it was cold and were perfectly happy to walk along that beautiful beach! Thanks for your comment, Erin!

  11. When we travelled to Ireland we were surprised at how lovely the beaches were, they were gorgeous! Love Ireland and can’t wait to go back! Great post. #feetdotravel

    • Thanks guys! We love it too, and were wowed by the beautiful beaches as much as the gorgeous hillsides. Like you, we can’t wait to go back for more!

  12. Oh, I’ve never heard of Blue Flag beaches but I will definitely keep an eye out for them! I’m not a fan of dirty beaches! Sometimes wasn’t sure about some of the beaches I grew up on in Cali where the water wasn’t always so blue! #TheWeeklyPostcard

  13. It looks like a nice place to go for a walk on the beach but too cold to get in that water. Still it is beautiful and definitely worth a visit. Will pin for future reference when I make it to Dingle. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  14. Ireland is so beautiful! And I love the accent too 😉 I’d really love to go one day – and super glad to hear that they have high environmental standards! Not sure I’d go just for the beach (nothing can beat the Southeast Asian beaches I’m used to, haha), but it would be a nice day-trip!

    • We are completely in love with the accent and the awesome little phrases! It’s so catchy – after a few days, even we were saying “Aye, that’s grand!” We have to say, the beaches look lovely but, even in the summer, are a little chilly for us. It does make for a nice picnic stop on a tour of the Dingle Peninsula, though. Thanks for reading, Michelle!

    • We had heard about this, but haven’t managed to catch it. One day, we’d like to plan a trip around it because it seems like such a great tradition! From what we understand, it dates back to locals meeting to buy and sell horses, and eventually became sort of a festival, complete with that beach race. How cool is that? Thanks for reading, Deborah!

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