If you’re in search of beaches near Kinsale worth visiting, you’ve landed in the right place.
Offering some of the best pubs and restaurants in Ireland, as well as a plethora of historic attractions, galleries, and museums, it’s easy to see why Kinsale is so popular.
It’s even home to its own beach (not in the town) and there are plenty of other beaches near Kinsale, many of which are under 20 minutes away.
In the guide below, you’ll find some info on Kinsale beach along with many other sandy spots a stone’s throw from the town.
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!
Beaches in Kinsale
Kinsale Beach is also known as ‘Dock Beach’ and ‘Castlepark Beach’, and is located about 3 km from Kinsale town centre.
It’s a nice walk if you’re up for it, though you’ll find limited parking nearby if you prefer to drive. Small and sheltered, the white sands and azure waters are amazingly beautiful, and not what you’d expect on the outskirts of town!
The calm waters are good for swimming and body boarding, and it’s a great place to cool off on a hot day.
There are also jagged cliffs that are great for exploring and checking out the rock pools. Just a stone’s throw from James Fort and the Dock Bar, there’s plenty to do in the area afterwards.
Beaches near Kinsale (less than 20 minutes away)
Kinsale Beach is beautiful, but as it’s so small, it gets busy on a sunny day. Fortunately, you’ll find a number of alternatives less than 20 minutes away.
Below, you’ll find plenty of beaches near Kinsale that don’t require a huge amount of driving to get to.
1. Sandycove Beach (8-minute drive)
Sandycove is popular among stand-up paddle boarders and sea kayaks, as the sheltered bay offers up calm waters that are also great for a little light swimming.
There’s a sizable island that protects the bay from the worst of the waves, and you can easily swim or paddle over to it.
When the tide is in, it comes right up to the sea wall, but as it goes out a mixed rocky and sandy beach is revealed, with plenty of rock pools to investigate.
Surrounded by rolling green hills, the beach is remarkably tranquil. You’ll find portaloos and limited parking, but not many other facilities.
2. Garrylucas Blue Flag Beach (16-minute drive)
Here, you’ll discover beautiful white sand, grassy dunes, rocky cliffs, and crashing waves. Exposed to the elements, it’s incredibly popular with water sports enthusiasts.
During the summer season, the blue flag beach is life-guarded, making it a safe and clean place to spend time with the family or tackling the waves.
Stretching for around 2 km, it’s a great walk, especially with a dog. There’s a large car park with toilet facilities right next to the beach, as well as a shop, cafe, and campsite.
Related read: Check out our guide to the best beaches in Cork (a mix of tourist favourites and hidden gems)
3. Coolmain Beach (20-minute drive)
Coolmain is another of several beaches near Kinsale that’s popular for watersports and offers slightly more friendly conditions for the inexperienced.
The long stretch of sandy beach is interspersed with craggy rocks, but is otherwise fairly flat. When it comes to swimming, caution is needed as there are strong currents here.
So, make sure you don’t venture out far and be vigilant at all times. Parking is limited, and there aren’t any toilets or other amenities at the beach, so be prepared.
Otherwise, it’s a good beach for building sandcastles, relaxing in the sun, light swimming, walking and horse riding.
4. Harbour View Beach (20-minute drive)
Next to Coolmain Beach, Harbour View is a little more tranquil, with shallower waters and long stretches of sand when the tide goes out.
It’s still popular for kite surfers and kayaks, though if you’re planning to windsurf, Coolmain is the better option. The beach is also safe for swimming, particularly on the east end.
This tends to be one of the quieter beaches near Kinsale, and there’s ample parking. However, there are no other facilities, such as toilets.
Harbour View is a special area of conservation (SAC), with wetlands and sand dunes behind the beach providing a haven for a wealth of bird and plant species.
Beaches close to Kinsale (less than 50 minutes away)
The final section of our guide to the best beaches near Kinsale contains sandy stretches that are under a 50-minute drive away.
Below, you’ll find the brilliant Myrtleville Beach, Fountainstown Beach, Inchydoney Beach and more.
1. Dunworley Beach (39-minute drive)
Dunworly is arguably the most overlooked of the many beaches near Kinsale and I’d argue that it’s one of the best beaches in Cork.
Dunworley is fairly small, but it promises craggy rocks and coves, soft sands, clear blue sea, and spectacular scenery. There’s a wealth of caves and coves to explore, as well as rock pools, making it a great choice for families.
The tide comes right in and the beach disappears completely, so be sure to check tide times if you choose to swim or explore the rocks.
The waves are mostly fairly gentle, making it a great place for body boarding, stand-up paddle boarding and swimming. There are no toilet facilities at the beach, and parking can be limited.
2. Inchydoney Beach (49-minute drive)
Inchydoney is actually an island, which can be reached by one of two causeways. The beach itself boasts pristine pale sand that wouldn’t look out of place on a tropical island!
Stretching for more than 2 km, there’s plenty of space for everyone, with the beach split in two by the craggy Virgin Mary Headland.
It’s a good, beginner-friendly place for surfing, and there’s even a surf school onsite. It’s also ideal for rock pooling, relaxing, walking, scrambling, and watching out for marine life, such as whales and dolphins.
3. Fountainstown Beach (25-minute drive)
With a mix of rocky and sandy sections, Fountainstown Beach is great for rock pooling, building sandcastles, and swimming alike.
It’s extremely popular with families, and with shallow waters, it’s a safe beach for paddling and light swimming. You can also rent kayaks, and with lifeguards on duty throughout the summer season, you can be sure you’re in good hands.
There’s a huge car park, but just one portaloo, which can see long lines during busy weekends.
There’s also a small shop and cafe in the car park. The beach is a great place for walking, and there are several walking trails in the area.
Related read: Check out our guide to the best beaches in West Cork (a mix of tourist favourites and hidden gems)
4. Myrtleville Beach (29-minute drive)
This is a little gem and is one of the closest beaches to Cork City, which means it can get pretty crowded on a sunny weekend.
It’s safe for swimming, with stretches of sand that are great for relaxing on. You’ll also find plenty of rock pools, too.
There’s no car park or toilet, though the road to the beach is fairly wide and offers quite a lot of parking.
Swimmers can, however, enjoy the rainwater showers, ideal for rinsing off the sand and salt. Overall, it’s a top choice for families with kids, and, since it’s quite small, they can’t run away too far and get lost!
FAQs about the best beaches near Kinsale
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from the closest beach to Kinsale 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 Kinsale?
The closest beach to Kinsale is Kinsale Beach (aka ‘Dock Beach’ and ‘Castlepark Beach’) and it’s located about 3 km from Kinsale town centre.
What are the best beaches near Kinsale under 1 hour drive?
Myrtleville (29-minute drive). Fountainstown (25-minute drive). Inchydoney Beach (49-minute drive) and Garrylucas Blue Flag Beach (16-minute drive).
What is the closest beach to Kinsale that’s good for swimming?
Dock Beach (aka ‘Kinsale Beach’) is the closest beach to Kinsale for a swim. Cation should always be practiced when entering the water.
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.