If you’re in search of beaches in Mayo, you’ve landed in the right place.
If you’ve read our guide to the best things to do in Mayo, you’ll know that this county is home to some of the best beaches in Ireland.
In the guide below, you’ll find some of the best Mayo beaches on offer, from tourist favourites, like Keem and Keel, to lesser known stretches, like Silver Strand and Old Head.
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!
Our favourite beaches in Mayo
The first section of our guide to the best beaches in Mayo is filled with our favourite sandy stretches in the county.
Below, you’ll find everywhere from the magnificent beaches of the Mullet Peninsula to the hidden gem than is Annagh Bay.
1. Old Head Beach
Old Head is a fine Blue Flag Beach that you’ll find around 3.5km from the lovely little village of Louisburgh.
The beach is overlooked by a woodland to the west and Croagh Patrick to the south. When the tide goes out, countless rock pools that are home to a variety of sealife are exposed.
This is a great spot to visit if you’re driving the Doolough Valley or visiting the nearby (and very unique) Lost Valley.
2. The beach on the Inishkea Islands
The two Inishkea Islands can be found a stone’s throw (you’d want a fairly good throw…) from the Mullet Peninsula coastline.
At one time the islands were noted for pagan traditions focusing on a terracotta statue known as Naomhog in Irish.
The water around the island is as clear as any you’ll find in Ireland and the sand golden. In summer, you can take boat trips to Inishkea South from Blacksod Harbour.
3. Keem Bay
There are few Mayo beaches that can go toe-to-toe with the scenery that the mighty Keem Bay treats you to, both on the road as you approach and as you sit on the sand.
There are just few places like it in the world, never mind Ireland. If you arrive here late in the evening (winter in particular) you’ll often have the whole place all to yourself.
The beach here is small, but it packs a mighty punch. As Keem is one of the most popular beaches in Mayo, it gets busy at the weekends and during summer.
4. Silver Strand
The beautiful Silver Strand Beach in Mayo is tucked away in Louisburgh, where it makes a fine stop-off point after you do the Leenane to Louisburgh Drive.
There’s a nice little parking area right next to the beach, and it’s a short walk from the tarmac to the sand.
As this is one of several Mayo beaches that hasn’t really received the attention online that it arguably deserves, it’s nice and quiet at times. Arrive early at weekends and during the summer months.
5. Elly Bay
If you’re looking for things to do in Belmullet, this is a handy option. You’ll find Elly Bay a handy 9km spin from Belmullet where it offers views across to the Inishkea Islands.
This is, at the time of typing, a Blue Flag beach and it’s fairly sheltered and is popular for sailing and kite-surfing.
As is the case with a couple of Mayo beaches, the sand dunes at Elly Bay are an area of ecological importance and they’re home to a wealth of wildlife.
More mighty Mayo beaches
There are plenty of other Mayo beaches that are well worth a saunter along, depending on where you’re staying.
Below, you’ll find a mix of lesser-known beaches in Mayo, like Cross Beach, along with some tourist favourites, like Keel.
1. Keel Beach
Keel Beach sits at the foot of Achill Head on Achill Island in Mayo. Places like this make me want to abandon life in Dublin and move to the coast.
There’s nothing like strolling along the shore at Keel with a friend, chatting away and admiring the jagged cliffs that tower above you as the cool wind slaps your face.
A great spot for a ramble or, if it tickles your fancy, water sports. There’s plenty of things to do on Achill when you finish at Keel.
2. Cross Beach
Just west of Binghamstown, Cross Beach is arguably one of the most overlooked of the many Mayo Beachs, as many tend to stop at Belderra Strand, which is a popular surfing spot.
However, if you press on to Cross Beach you won’t be disappointed. Park at the graveyard surrounding the ruins of Cross Abbey Church.
Stretching out, Cross Beach looks across to the Inishkea Islands. Walk the sandy beach at low tide (there’s a Loop Walk back through the dunes) and time your visit for sunset – it’s hard to bate!
3. Aughleam Beach
At the southern end of the Mullet Peninsula, the startling white sands of Aughleam (Eachléim) Beach are a hidden gem.
Just past Aughleam village on the R313, there’s a car park and picnic area overlooking the beach which stretches away into the distance. It’s a lovely spot for swimming and picking cockles and mussels in season.
4. Annagh Bay
Annagh Bay is arguably one of the most unique beaches in Mayo, and it’s not easy to reach, unless you’re on for a decent hike.
You can reach Annagh Bay from the car park at Keem on Achill Island. It’s a decent hike up to the viewing point, and many visit it while heading out to view the Croaghaun Cliffs.
This is one of the more unique beaches in Ireland, as it has a corrie lake situated right next to it.
5. Lacken Strand
If you’re after a long aul walk, then a trip to Lacken is a must. This Mayo beach boasts miles after mile of glorious golden strand which make it perfect for walking… or for lashing around a frisbee.
You can pair a visit to Lacken Strand with the Ceide Fields or Downpatrick Head, as both are located a handy drive from the sand.
Note: this beach floods twice daily when the tide returns and it’s recommended that you avoid attempting to swim here.
6. Doolough Strand
Doolough Strand near the village of Geesala is one of the prettiest in Mayo, and that’s saying something!
The curving sand stretches for several kms with views of the Mullet Peninsula and Achill Island. The firm sand hosts the Doolagh Horse Races each August. It’s a gorgeous place for a swim too.
7. Blacksod Bay
There’s a lovely beach and many little islets at Blacksod Bay along with a granite lighthouse complex marking the bay’s entrance.
The sheltered bay offers safe anchorage and is backed by sand dunes. It’s a popular beach for walking, watersports and boat trips to the Inishkea Islands.
Blacksod Lighthouse was built in 1864. It was from here that the weather warnings from the lighthouse keepers fortuitously delayed the Normandy Landings by a day. The buildings were badly damaged by a rogue wave in 1989 but are still inhabited.
Portacloy is an often missed chunk of Mayo. Which is crazy considering how close it is to Benwee Head, the Ceide Fields, Downpatrick Head and lots more.
You’ll find it on the North Mayo coast, where it’s a popular spot for swimming and snorkeling. It’s also perfect for a paddle after you do the Portacloy Loop Walk.
FAQs about the best Mayo Beaches
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from the best beaches in Mayo for swimming to which ones are best for surfing.
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.
What are the most beautiful beaches in Mayo?
I’d argue that the most beautiful Mayo beaches are Keem, Annagh Bay and Silver Strand Beach in Louisburgh.
What Mayo beaches are best for swimming on?
Rinroe Strand, Portacloy, Elly Bay and Ross Strand (Killala) are great beaches in Mayo for swimming (note: caution is always required when entering the water).
Are there any good beaches near Westport?
Yes! There are several great beaches near Westport: Bertra Beach, Old Head Beach, Mulranny Beach and Silver Strand are 4 Mayo beaches that are a handy drive from Westport.
Tuesday 14th of May 2019
Hello, just to let you know that the video of Ballycastle Beach is from Ballycastle in Northern Ireland not Mayo.
Tuesday 14th of May 2019
You're a star - thanks for taking the time to point it out. I'll update now!
Tuesday 14th of May 2019
Cross Beach near Carrowmore beach...a fab long walk along here too and Portacloy Beach in North Mayo :-)