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Welcome To Portsalon Beach (AKA Ballymastocker Bay): One Of The Finest Beaches In Ireland

Welcome To Portsalon Beach (AKA Ballymastocker Bay): One Of The Finest Beaches In Ireland

Ireland’s home to many a beach, but few are as mighty as Ballymastocker Bay (also known as Portsalon Beach) in Donegal.

In fact, I’d go as far as saying as this this is one of the best beaches in Donegal (and it’s easily one of the best beaches in Ireland.

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!

Some need-to-knows before visiting Ballymastocker Beach / Portsalon Beach

Portsalon beach donegal

Photo by Monicami/shutterstock

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. 

It’s one of my favourite places to visit in Donegal and it’s a must on any Donegal road trip that takes you up to this corner of the county. Here’s some quick things to know.

1. Location

You’ll find Portsalon Beach on the western side of the beautiful waters of Lough Swilly, not far from Fanad Head Lighthouse.

2. Parking

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.

3. Swimming

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

ballymastocker beach

Photo by Peter Krocka/shutterstock

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

Ballymastocker as seen from Knockalla

Photo via Google Maps

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.

Donegal is home to a lot of often-missed places like this (Arranmore Island and Tory Island) are two other places people tend to overlook!).

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)

fanad lighthouse in donegal

Photo left: Artur Kosmatka. Right: Niall Dunne/shutterstock

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.

2. Murder Hole Beach (37-minute drive)

murder hole beach donegal

Photos via Shutterstock

One of the most unique beaches in the land, Murder Hole Beach can be tricky to get to, if you don’t know the way. Find the trail to follow in this guide.

3. Glenveagh (34-minute drive)

Glenveagh National Park walks guide

Photo left: Gerry McNally. Photo right: Lyd Photography (Shutterstock)

If you’re after a solid ramble, travel 34 minutes down the road and try one of the Glenveagh National Park walks. Or, just have a ramble around Glenveagh Castle and Gardens.

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Jer

Tuesday 13th of August 2019

I was there over the long weekend. Knockalla campsite is 3 mins from the beach and the beach makes brittas bay look like Bray seafront. The sand is like powder and the sea stays nice and shallow. Lifeguards on duty too and so much space to fly a kite or Chuck a frisbee or just flake out.

Keith

Wednesday 14th of August 2019

Sounds like you had a solid day at the beach, Jer!

The last time I was at Ballymastocker the rain was pouring down, so we admired through the car window...

Cheers for commenting.

Keith

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