The popular, 1.2km Ballycastle Beach is a fine spot for a stroll or a swim.
Especially if you’re looking to round off a day spent tackling the many things to do in Ballycastle!
Grab a coffee from Shorebird Coffee Hut (or fish and chips from Morton’s), flick off your shoes, and saunter along the sand while soaking up views of Rathlin and Fair Head – magic!
In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from swimming at Ballycastle Beach to where to find parking.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Ballycastle Beach
Although a visit to the beach in Ballycastle is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Ballycastle Beach stretches for 1.2km along the Causeway Coast in front of Ballycastle town in County Antrim. The beach runs from the pier at the Marina to Pans Rock in the east.
There is decent parking right along the beachfront, although you should definitely expect it to be quite busy on a warm day. On weekends, it’s best to arrive at the beach early to get a good spot.
3. Swimming and safety
Ballycastle Beach is a popular spot for a swim. There are no restrictions on swimming here at the time of typing, however, we always recommend checking locally, as conditions can change quickly at any beach.
Being a popular summer destination there are plenty of facilities to cater for visitors. You’ll find car parking along the beach, a seasonal lifeguard service (Jul – Aug), and a visitor information centre. The beach is also wheelchair accessible and there are disabled toilets and parking available as well.
About Ballycastle Beach
Ballycastle Beach is a popular stop-off point on the Causeway Coastal Route. On a warm day, the 1.2km stretch of sand can be quite busy as people, walk, swim, surf, fish and paddle around.
Geology of the beach
The eastern end of Ballycastle Beach is part of Ballycastle Coalfields, which is the best exposure of coalfield sequence in Ireland.
The coal and iron ores were mined around here between the 16th and 19th centuries and evidence of this remains today.
There have been many fossils found in the area including shellfish, giant clubmosses and arthropod insects.
Fishing at Ballycastle
Fishing is a very popular activity at Ballycastle. Rock fishing is common, as is off the pier or you can head out on fishing charters from the marina too. You’ve got the chance to catch pollock, bream, cod and whiting, plus more
Things to do at and around Ballycastle Beach
There’s plenty of things to do in and around Ballycastle Beach, if you fancy spending a couple of hours here.
1. Grab a coffee from Shorebird Coffee Hut
Before you head down to the beach, you might want to grab yourself a caffeine hit. The Shorebird Coffee Hut on Mary Street on the western end of the beach is the perfect spot to grab a coffee.
The lovely little spot offers beautiful views across the beach and over to Rathlin Island, so you can enjoy breakfast with a view. There’s also plenty of restaurants in Ballycastle if you’re hungry!
2. And then soak up the views
The long stretch of sand at Ballycastle Beach is a beautiful way to soak up the coastal views. The green of the Ballycastle Golf Course backs behind the beach and you can look out across to Rathlin Island in the distance.
At the western end, you can look onto the marina and watch the ferries head off to the island, or to the east you can admire views of the rugged coastal headland. It’s definitely a serene place to be!
3. Head for a paddle or a ramble
The relatively calm waters of Ballycastle Beach offer the perfect opportunity for a range of activities. If you’re a water person, you can head in for a swim or canoe (always use caution when entering the water).
Otherwise, if you prefer to stay on dry land, then you can easily wander along the length of the beach for your morning stroll. Dogs are allowed as well, although there are some restrictions in summer so it’s best to keep them on a leash.
Things to do near Ballycastle Beach
One of the beauties of the beach in Ballycastle is that it’s a short spin away from some of the best things to do in Antrim.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the beach (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Kinbane Castle
Just outside of Ballycastle town to the north, you’ll find Kinbane Castle on a spectacular narrow limestone promontory. Its name means “white head” referring to the rocks and is a great spot to check out on the coast. More info here.
2. The cliffs at Fair Head
Another worthwhile attraction is Fair Head, which is known as Northern Ireland’s tallest cliffs. Rising 600 feet above the sea, the cliffs stretch for five kilometres along the coast in dramatic fashion. Nearby Torr Head and Murlough Bay are worth visiting, too! Find info on the walks here.
3. Take a ferry to Rathlin Island
You’ll be able to spot Rathlin Island just across the sea from Ballycastle Beach, so it’s worth taking the ferry over to the only inhabited island in Northern Ireland. The small isle is just 10km long and 1.6km wide, but it has a population of around 150 people. There’s plenty of spectacular landscapes to view once you arrive, with walking and cycling trails to wander along at your own leisure.
FAQs about the beach in Ballycastle
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where to park near the beach to what to do nearby.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Does Ballycastle have a beach?
Yes – there’s a 1.2km beach in Ballycastle that’s an absolute joy to ramble along, especially on those often rare sunny days.
Is Ballycastle Beach safe?
Ballycastle Beach is a popular spot for swimming, however, caution is always needed when entering the water. Always be aware of conditions and weather (check locally if in doubt).
Elisha is a freelance writer, content creator and blogger and her work can be read in Lonely Planet, Remote Lands and Matador Network. You’ll usually find her travelling in offbeat places or hiking wherever there are mountains; always with a camera in hand.