If you’re in search of beaches in Kerry, you’ve landed in the right place.
If you’ve read our guide to the best things to do in Kerry, you’ll know that the county is home to some unbeatable beaches worth visiting.
County Kerry has (at the time of typing!) 12 Blue Flag Beaches and another 5 Green Coast Beaches. Expect pristine golden sand, rugged cliffs and breath-taking scenery.
In the guide below, you’ll find some of the best Kerry beaches on offer, from tourist favourites, like Coumeenoole, to lesser known stretches of sand, like Dooks.
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 Kerry
The first section of our guide to the best beaches in Kerry is filled with our favourite sandy stretches in the county.
Below, you’ll find everywhere from the magnificent beaches of Coumeenoole and Ventry to Derrynane and much more.
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.
1. Derrynane Beach
There are few Kerry beaches that can go toe-to-toe with Derrynane Beach, an extensive white sandy beach with clean Blue Flag waters at the tip of the Iveragh peninsula.
Access is through the wooded gardens of historic Derrynane House which is worth a visit. However, the crescent shaped beach of white sand and clear aquamarine water is the main attraction, with Abbey Island at the westernmost end.
Walk along the sandy causeway at low tide and enjoy the coastal scenery from the ruins of St Finian’s Abbey and burial ground. It doesn’t get better than this!
2. Coumeenoole Beach
It’s a picturesque sight with golden sand lapped by rolling surf at the foot of rugged cliffs and you do need to make a bit of a walk down from the car park on the clifftop.
This wild beach is perfect for forgetting life’s troubles for a bit, and enjoying a walk along the sand or soaking up the views from the grass above (near where you park).
One of the beauties of visiting this place is that it’s on the Slea Head drive, so there’s plenty to see and do nearby.
Note: this is one of a handful of beaches in Kerry that we wouldn’t recommend swimming at, as the currents are strong at Coumeenoole (as the sings erected nearby will tell you).
3. Rossbeigh Strand
Rossbeigh Beach is an unusual beach jutting out into the bay and guarding the entrance to Castlemaine Harbour.
It’s the ideal stretch of firm sand for walking and enjoying fine views of the Dingle Mountains. The golden sandy beach stretches for 7km and even hosts a horseracing festival each summer.
The Blue Flag waters are popular for fishing and all types of watersports including windsurfing, kite-surfing and some decent surfing thanks to the prevailing SW winds.
At the south end of the Strand you can grab a pint and a bite to eat in pretty Glenbeigh Village before joining the Kerry Way.
4. Inch Beach
Looking across at Rossbeigh Strand, it received the coveted Blue Flag award in 2019 for its pristine waters. Patrolled by lifeguards in summer, it can be busy on weekends at any time of year.
It offers easy access and safe waters making it a real gem for swimming, surfing, kayaking, windsurfing and other watersports.
Other incredible Kerry beaches worth a visit
There are plenty of other Kerry 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 Kerry, like Dooks Beach, along with some tourist favourites, like Ballinskelligs Beach.
1. Banna Beach
Another lengthy “Strand”, Banna Beach edges the Kerry coastline for 10km backed by impressive sand dunes that stand 12 metres high in places.
Overlooking Tralee Bay, this beautiful sandy beach is a paradise for walkers, swimmers and those who just want to make sandcastles.
There’s a surf school and lifeguards in summer and is overlooked by Tralee Golf Club, so something for everyone.
This dog-friendly beach (on a lead) has a memorial to Roger Casement who took part in the Easter Rebellion in 1916. There’s plenty of things to do in Tralee when you’ve finished up at Banna.
2. Fenit Beach
Fenit Beach is a small sandy beach, also on Tralee Bay looking across to the mountains of the Dingle Peninsula. Its sheltered southfacing position and Blue Flag waters make it popular for families.
It’s also a top choice for swimming, sailing and kayaking. There’s a large car park with toilets, children’s playground and a shop and bar nearby.
The beach has seen its share of excitement in the past, with the capture of the Nuestra Señora del Socorro, part of the Spanish Armada in 1588.
3. Dooks Beach
Dooks is one of the most frequently missed beaches in Kerry, and part of the reason for this is the parking situation – there’s no dedicated parking nearby.
So, you’ll need to park along the road leading to it (there’s limited parking). Located just off the Ring of Kerry, this really is a hidden gem.
Once on the sand, Dooks offers spectacular views of nearby Rossbeigh Strand and the Dingle Peninsula. It’s a great spot for walking and swimming in the calm waters.
4. Ballybunion Beach
Ballybunion is a popular resort consisting of two main beaches, both with Blue Flag waters. South Beach (Mens Beach) is the largest, stretching for several kms so it’s never overcrowded.
The Atlantic waves are popular with surfers and rockpools and caves at the foot of cliffs are ideal for exploring.
A headland and remains of a ruined castle separates it from Ladies Beach (North Beach) which has famous seaweed baths, if you’re so inclined. Beyond Mens Beach is Long Strand, another 3km of sand for walking.
5. Ballinskelligs Beach
Rounding off our collection of the best beaches in Kerry is the brilliant Ballinskelligs Beach, located along the Skellig Ring.
Set within a Special Area of Conservation on the west side of Ballinskelligs Harbour, this gorgeous sandy beach has Blue Flag water overlooked by the remnants of McCarthy’s Castle and an even older Priory with crumbling walls and gravestones.
This family-friendly beach is also a Green Coast Award Beach, an environmental award which recognises excellent water quality and careful management of the natural environment.
FAQs about the best Kerry Beaches
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from the best beaches in Kerry 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 Kerry?
Derrynane Beach, Rossbeigh Strand, Inch Beach and Ballybunion Beach.
What Kerry beaches are best for swimming on?
Inch Beach, Rossbeigh Strand, Fenit Beach and Derrynane Beach.
Are there any good beaches near Killarney?
Yes! There are several great beaches near Killarney: Dooks Beach (39 minute drive) and Inch Beach (40-minute drive).
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.