11 Of The Best Beaches Near Killarney (4 Of Which Are Under 45 Minutes Away)

beaches near killarney
Photo by gabriel12/shutterstock.com

If you’re in search of beaches near Killarney worth visiting, you’ve landed in the right place.

Killarney can hardly be described as coastal, but for those visiting this delightful town on the Ring of Kerry drive, you’re never far from a beautiful sandy beach.

So when the sun peeks over the MacGillycuddy Reeks, here are best beaches near Killarney for a barefoot sandy stroll, a swim and some exhilarating water-sports.  

Note: Always be careful when entering the sea and, if in doubt, make sure to check in advance locally whether it’s safe to swim.

Beaches near Killarney

closest beach to killarney
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

The first section of our guide is packed with beaches near Killarney that are less than a one hour drive away.

Below, you’ll find the closest beach to Killarney (Dooks Beach – 39-minute drive) along with several other sandy spots that are a stone’s throw from the town.

1. Dooks Beach (39 minutes)

dooks beach killarney
Photo via Google Maps

Dooks Beach is the nearest beach to Killarney and it’s one of the most frequently missed of the many places to visit in Kerry.

Overlooked by the challenging Dooks Links golf course, this is a sheltered sandy beach which is popular with locals.

Parking at Dook’s Beach near Killarney is tricky – there’s no dedicated car park, so you’ll need to park (safely!) at the side of the road.

It offers stunning views across the water to the Dingle Peninsula, Inch Beach, Cromane and the entrance to Castlemaine Harbour. 

2. Inch Beach (40-minute drive)

inch beach county kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Next up is one of the best beaches in Kerry and, arguably, one of the best of the many mighty beaches in Ireland.

If you’re in search of the nearest beach to Killarney where you’ll find fine surfing conditions, take the 40-minute drive out to Inch Beach.

If it’s sand you’re wanting, Inch Beach has three beautiful miles of it (5km) and it’s just a lovely safe spot for swimming, walking, surfing and kayaking.

It’s also good for bass fishing, so bring your tackle and wade right in. The white sandy beach and clear Blue Flag waters are patrolled by lifeguards in summer when it can get a tad busy.

3. Rossbeigh Beach (44-minute drive)

Rossbeigh beach
Photo by Monicami/Shutterstock.com

The closest beach to Killarney with Blue Flag status (at the time of typing!) is Rossbeigh Beach, a gorgeous sandy strip backed by coastal dunes about 34kms away.

Surrounded by glorious views of the Dingle Mountains, Rossbeigh Beach boasts 7km of golden sand that’s just begging to be explored on foot (or raced across on horseback as happens every August during the Glenbeigh Races!)

Bring your bodyboard, sailboard or whatever, and enjoy this safe haven. It’s prime for surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing in the prevailing southwesterly winds.

4. Banna Strand (47 minutes)

closest beach to killarney
Photo via justinclark82 on shutterstock.com

Banna Strand boasts 10km of golden sand sheltered by incredible sand dunes that reach up to 12 metres high. Views look out directly to Mucklaghmore Rock with Kerry Head to the north.

Go swimming and keep an eye out for pods of dolphins playing in the surf. For history buffs, Banna Strand has particular significance.

Roger Casement, a British diplomat turned Irish Nationalist, landed on this beach in 1916 after attempting to secure arms from the Germans, hence the memorial. 

If you’re in search of beaches near Killarney where there are surf lessons on offer, you’ll find several surf schools operating at Banna!

Our favourite beaches near Killarney

ballybunion beach
Photo by gabriel12/shutterstock.com

The second section of our guide to the best beaches near Killarney is filled with brilliant beaches that are a within an hour to an hour and a half away from the town.

Below, you’ll find everywhere from the magnificent beaches of Derrynane and Coumeenoole to Ventry beach and much more. 

1. Ballybunion Beach (60 minutes)

ballybunion cliffs
Photo by gabriel12/shutterstock.com

Ballybunion is actually a trio of beaches: Ladies Beach and Men’s Beach (separated by Castle Green) and Long Strand.

They were once used for segregated bathing! Located on the Wild Atlantic Way near Listowel, Ladies Beach has high cliffs with wonderful caves and rock pools overlooked by ruined Ballybunion Castle.

Men’s Beach is good for swimming, surfing, walking and watersports. The 3km Long Strand is bordered by the Cashen River. Athletes trained on this beach for the 1932 Olympics, bringing home two gold medals. 

The water at Ballybunion is regarded by many as one of the best places to go surfing in Ireland. But it’s just as good to ramble along, too!

2. Ventry Beach (75 minutes)

ventry bay kerry
Photo by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

Right beside the traditional Gaeltacht village of the same name, Ventry Beach is a top choice for swimming and bathing.

It has a 3km long stretch of picture-perfect white sand with clean Blue Flag waters. Low sand dunes are home to seabirds, choughs and other wildlife.

There’s a small lake and grasslands edging a Common Reed swamp. The beach is well equipped with a car park, toilets and a summer lifeguard station.

It’s another top spot for casting a line or just relaxing and enjoying the tranquillity of this peaceful spot.

3. Ballinskelligs Beach (80 minutes)

Ballinskelligs beach
Photo by Johannes Rigg (Shutterstock)

Next up in our guide to the best beaches near Killarney is Ballinskelligs Beach. This beach has fine golden sand and clear water within a Spacial Area of Conservation.

It’s popular for windsurfing, kayaking and swimming. Frequently awarded the Blue Flag recognition for its clean water quality, the beach has two sets of ruins as a backdrop.

The 16th century McCarthy’s Castle occupies a prime position on a rock isthmus in Ballingskelligs Bay while the crumbling walls of the even older Ballingskelligs Abbey overlooks the dramatic bay. 

4. Derrynane Beach (90-minute drive)

derrynane beach
Photo by Johannes Rigg on Shutterstock

On the opposite coast of the Iveragh Peninsula, Derrynane Beach is reputedly the “Best beach in Ireland”.

Located just west of Caherdaniel in Derrynane National Historic Park, it has parking and easy access from Derrynane House, the historic home of Irish “Liberator”, Daniel O’Connell. The dog-friendly beach has stunning Caribbean-worthy turquoise waters.

There are boats and watersports equipment rentals available in summer along with a lifeguard. At one end, Abbey Island can be reached along a sandy spit.

It gets its name from 8th century St Finian’s Abbey and the ruins include an interesting graveyard. 

5. Coumeenoole Beach (90-minute drive)

one of our favourite beaches near killarney
Photo via Tourism Ireland (by Kim Leuenberger)

Rounding off our collection of the best beaches near Killarney is the incredible Coumeenoole Beach, located along the brilliant Slea Head Drive.

Coumeenoole Beach is at the tip of the Dingle Peninsula, and the scenery alone makes this well worth the journey. It’s everything you need in the perfect beach: blue water, soft golden sand, rolling waves, rugged cliffs and stunning surroundings.

This small wild beach is perfect for kite flying and kitesurfing as well as walking, barbecues and watching surfers ride each barreling wave.

Park on the clifftop and walk down, and do pay heed to the warnings about strong currents. Children might be safer dipping their toes in the shallow pools.  

FAQs about the best beaches near Killarney

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from the closest beach to Killarney to which one is the best for swimming.

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 is the nearest beach to Killarney?

The closest beach to Killarney is Dooks Beach (39-minute drive). It can be hard to park here, so take note of the point mentioned above under the ‘Dooks Beach’ section.

What are the best beaches near Killarney under 1 hour drive?

  • Dooks Beach (39 minutes)
  • Inch Beach (40-minute drive)
  • Rossbeigh Beach (44-minute drive)
  • Banna Strand (47 minutes)

What is the closest beach to Killarney that’s good for swimming?

In my opinion, the nearest beach to Killarney that’s good for a swim is Inch Beach (40-minute drive). There’s a decent bit of parking here and the views surrounding the beach are outstanding. 

Gillian Birch is a travel writer and published author. She has travelled the world and uses her personal journals and memories to write about her many travel experiences, particularly those that involved adventures in Ireland.

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