Ireland’s home to many a beach, but few are as mighty as Ballymastocker Bay (also known as Portsalon Beach) in Donegal.
Also, the name ‘Ballymastocker’ is also pretty damn enjoyable to say, so there’s that as well… Moving swiftly on.
In the guide below, you’ll find everything you need to know, from where to park at Portsalon Beach to other places to visit nearby.
Water safety warning: Understanding water safety is absolutely crucial when visiting beaches in Ireland. Please take a minute to read these water safety tips. Cheers!
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Some need-to-knows before visiting Ballymastocker Beach / Portsalon Beach
Once voted the second most beautiful beach in the world by the lads at Observer Magazine, Ballymastocker Bay is a little golden chunk of paradise.
You’ll find Portsalon Beach on the western side of the beautiful waters of Lough Swilly, not far from Fanad Head Lighthouse.
There’s a decent bit of parking at Ballymastocker Beach. However, it gets crowded here during the warmer summer months, so plan your visit accordingly.
Portsalon Beach is a Blue Flag beach and lifeguards are on duty between June and September. As always, please be careful if you enter the water and never do so in bad conditions.
About Portsalon Beach
You’ll find Ballymastocker Bay on the western shore of Lough Swilly in County Donegal, where its golden beach stretches for around a mile, from Portsalon to the Knockalla Hills.
This spot is the ideal place for an early morning ramble (if you can get here for sunrise, do!) or for a stroll to round a day off.
For those of you that fancy braving the chilly Atlantic, you’re in luck. Portsalon Beach received the International Blue Flag award for 2019, meaning it’s the perfect spot for a post-adventure swim.
Where to grab the best view of Ballymastocker Bay
You’ll grab one of the best views of Ballymastocker Beach from the nearby Knockalla Hills or as you spin along the Knockalla coastal drive.
In the photo above, which I’ve just pulled from Google Maps, you’ll see the view that you’ll be treated to as you spin along the R268 road. Pull in at the little viewing point and soak up the view.
But, just because people tend to miss out on them doesn’t mean they aren’t worth visiting – it’s usually just the opposite!
Things to do near Ballymastocker Beach
One of the beauties of visiting Portsalon Beach / Ballymastocker Beach is that it’s a stone’s-throw from a heap of other things to do and places to visit.
Below, you’ll find a handful of spots to check out that are less than a 30-minute drive from Ballymastocker Bay.
1. Fanad Lighthouse (17-minute drive)
The mighty Fanad Head Lighthouse is a short, 17-minute spin from Portsalon Beach, making it a handy spot to visit when you’ve finished on the sand.