A Guide To Visiting The Stunning Coumeenoole Beach in Dingle (Parking + WARNINGS)

slea head drive dingle
Photo left: Adam Machowiak. Photo right: Irish Drone Photography (Shutterstock)

The incredible Coumeenoole Beach is arguably one of the best beaches in Kerry.

You’ll find the mighty Coumeenoole Beach along the Slea Head Drive / Cycle route, on the lush west coast of the dramatic Dingle Peninsula.

Coumeenoole offers fantastic views of the surrounding ocean, stretching out to the nearby Blasket islands. There’s also some gorgeous, jagged cliffs to the right of the car park.

In the guide below, you’ll discover everything you need to know about visiting Coumeenoole Beach, from where to park to what to see nearby.

Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Coumeenoole Beach in Dingle

Annual leave Ireland 2020
Photo via Tourism Ireland (by Kim Leuenberger)

A visit to Coumeenoole Beach is one of the most popular of the many things to do in Kerry, but there’s a few ‘need-to-knows’ that’ll make your trip all the more enjoyable.

Most of these ‘need to knows’ are straightforward, but a couple, like whether or not you can swim here, are VERY important.

1. Parking

There’s a small car park and picnic tables overlooking Coumeenoole Beach (it gets busy in peak season). From the car park, it’s a bit of a steep walk down a winding road to the beach.

2. Swimming

Swimming is not advisable at Coumeenoole Beach and there are many warnings signs of the danger. The bay catches the full force of the Atlantic waves which creates strong and unpredictable currents.

However, on a calm day and when safe to do so you can wade out into the azure waters for a knee-high paddle (kids should never enter the water here.

3. Weather

If you’ve ever visited what’s arguably the most popular of the many beaches near Dingle, you’ll know it can get insanely windy here, and that’s no exaggeration. Even during the peak summer months the wind here can (literally) knock you sideways!

4. Ryan’s Daughter

Right beside the car park at Coumeenoole Beach there’s a commemoration stone marking the site where the classic love story Ryan’s Daughter was filmed. The stone was erected in 1999, 30 years after the Oscar-winning epic was made. Directed by David Lean, it starred Robert Mitchum and Sarah Miles, but the dramatic scenery was the real showstopper!

About Coumeenoole Beach

Coumeenoole beach kerry
Coumeenoole beach & Bay: By Chris Hill

Green hills drop steadily down towards Coumeenoole Beach, ending in sheer cliffs and a steep drop to the Atlantic Ocean.

The pristine golden sand on this wild beach almost disappears at high tide so plan your visit with some forethought!

Whether you arrive on two wheels or four, or perhaps on a pair of rather road-weary feet, the white sand and clear waters will greet you from the clifftop.

There are strong currents at Coumeenoole Beach (and warning signboards) so swimming is unwise but surfers will love the boisterous waves.

On stormy days, it’s not hard to see why two sloops form the Spanish Armada ended their days here in 1588.

Things to do near Coumeenoole Beach   

One of the beauties of Coumeenoole Beach in Dingle is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other attractions, both man-made and natural.

From the quirky Dun Chaoin Pier to more beaches, lively towns and much more, there’s loads to see and do nearby, as you’ll discover below.

1. Slea Head Drive

Slea head road
Photo by Lukasz Pajor (Shutterstock)

The Slea Head Drive (Slí Cheann Sléibhe) is one of the most scenic drives in Ireland, connecting historic sites and traditional villages with dramatic views of the Blasket Islands and awesome Atlantic.

This circular route begins and ends in Dingle and can be done by car in half a day, but hey – why rush? Rent a bicycle, make stops on a whim, enjoy local pubs and eateries and take interesting detours along the way.   

2. Dun Chaoin Pier

dun chaoin pier kerry aerial photo
@ Tourism Ireland photographed by Tom Archer

One of the most memorable stops on the Slea Head Drive is Dun Chaoin Pier. The quirky road winding down to the pier begs the question “Why?” The answer is, because it’s the departure point for boat trips to the Blasket Islands!

Leave your car parked at the top of the super-steep road (you’ll never reverse back up) and walk down to enjoy stunning rocky views. 

3. Dunmore Head

dunmore head slead head drive
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

If you’re fond of pub quizzes, you’ll probably know that Dunmore Head is the westernmost point of Europe. Close to Dunquin and surrounded by raw, breathtaking scenery it’s free to visit. Admire the Ogham stone on the clifftop with its ancient pagan “oghamic” engravings which are also found at other archaeological sites in Ireland. 

4. Dingle

dingle town kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Dingle’s a fine little place for a bite to eat (there’s plenty of great restaurants in Dingle) or for a pint and a chat with friends after a day on the road (there’s lots of great pubs in Dingle).

The town is nice and lively and there’s always a good buzz floating around the place. There’s also lots of things to do in Dingle to keep you occupied. 

FAQs about visiting Coumeenoole Beach in Dingle

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where to park at Coumeenoole Beach to whether or not it’s OK to swim (it’s 100% not!).

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.

Is it easy to get parking at Coumeenoole Beach?

During the off-season, yes – you won’t have any hassle. During the busier summer months, it can be hit and miss, and it’ll be dependent on when you arrive.

Is it safe to swim on Coumeenoole Beach?

I wouldn’t advise swimming on Coumeenoole Beach. As you’ll see from the signs erected nearby, there are strong currents that can overpower even the strongest of swimmers. 

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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