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A Guide To Culdaff Beach: Coffee, The Walk + Swim Info

A Guide To Culdaff Beach: Coffee, The Walk + Swim Info

Do beaches get more breezily picturesque than County Donegal’s Culdaff Beach?

Some come close, but Culdaff is one of the gems of the gorgeous Inishowen Peninsula and definitely shouldn’t be missed on a visit up to this remote part of Donegal!

In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from parking to swimming and everything in between. Dive on in!

Some quick need-to-knows about Culdaff Beach

culdaff beach

Photo by shawnwil23 (Shutterstock)

As this is one of the more popular beaches in Donegal, a visit here is pretty straightforward, but there are some quick need-to-knows:

1. Location

Culdaff Beach is a sandy beach located close to the village of Culdaff (Cil Dabhcha), on the northeast coast of Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula. It’s a 20-minute drive from Greencastle, a 30-minute drive Buncrana and a 40-minute drive from Derry.

2. Parking

You’ll find a large car park on the coastal side of Shore Road that gives easy access to the beach (here on Google Maps). There are small portaloos at the eastern end of the car park and expect it to get busy during the summer months, so arrive early to avoid missing a space. 

3. Swimming

Culdaff is a clean beach where you should be fine to swim during summer, but if the weather is poor then obviously stay clear of the water. Lifeguards are on duty in July and September between 12pm and 6:30pm, while a first Aid kit is also available at both the Beach Lifeguard Hut and the Caratra House Bar.

4. Blue Flag

Donegal boasts the highest number of Blue Flag beaches in Ireland and Culdaff is one of them! To claim Blue Flag status, the beach must achieve the highest quality in water, facilities, safety, environmental education and management.

5. Part of the Inishowen 100

Taking in a host of stunning sights, scenery and attractions, the Inishowen 100 is a cracking scenic drive around the Inishowen Peninsula and Culdaff is one of the stops (here’s a guide with a Google Map of the route).

6. Water safety (please read)

Understanding water safety is absolutely crucial when visiting beaches in Ireland. Please take a minute to read these water safety tips. Cheers!

About Culdaff Beach

visiting Culdaff Beach inishowen

Photo via Shutterstock

Extending between Bunnagee and Dunmore Head, Culdaff Beach is a long sandy expanse looking northeast towards the Scottish Islands. It’s actually separated into what locals call the ‘big beach’ in the west and the ‘small beach’ in the east (where most of the activity is concentrated). 

​​This section of the Inishowen coast is a designated Special Area of Conservation so make sure you pick up after yourself and don’t leave litter lying around!

Popular activities at Culdaff Beach throughout the year include swimming, walking and other watersports such as surfing, with a number of surf schools operating here (you’ll find them towards the eastern end of the beach if you fancy giving surfing a go!). 

Things to do at Culdaff Beach

Culdaff Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

There’s a handful of things to do in and around Culdaff Beach, for those of you looking to make a morning out of your visit. Here are some suggestions:

1. Grab something tasty from The Coffee Hub

Located (usually) in the beach’s car park, you’ll recognise the Coffee Hub van from its vibrant coffee bean design on the outside. It’s not there every single day though, so check ahead on the social media pages.

Grab yourself a caffeine hit with one of their superb coffees, or, if you’re there in the colder months, perhaps check out their Cadbury hot chocolates generously covered with marshmallows. 

Don’t forget that they also offer a selection of snacks too at the Coffee Hub, such as toasties, chocolate bars, crisps and biscuits. 

2. Then stroll along one of Ireland’s most unspoiled beaches

Once you’ve got yourself a warm drink in-hand, head over to the mighty Culdaff Beach itself!

In the warm summer months, Culdaff can get busy but it’s (surprisingly!) never crowded. In fact, for much of the year, it’s largely empty and ideal for long, invigorating walks.

Take a saunter across the golden sands of Culdaff beach and enjoy spectacular views of Bunagee Pier, Inishtrahull Island, local headlands and the rolling coastal Donegal hills.

If you’ve got the willpower, get up nice and early to be treated to a properly stunning sunrise!

Places to visit near Culdaff Beach

One of the beauties of Culdaff is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Donegal.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Culdaff!

1. Beaches Galore (from 15 minutes away)

Five Finger Strand

Photos via Shutterstock

If you want to seek out some more fine beaches then you’ve come to the right place! Within half an hour’s drive, you’ve got Five Finger Strand (15-minute drive) Kinnagoe Bay (20-minute drive), Pollan Strand (20-minute drive), Tullagh Strand (25-minute drive) Buncrana Beach (30-minute drive). 

2. Malin Head (25-minute drive)

malin head donegal

Photo left: RonanmcLaughlin. Right: Lukassek/shutterstock

The most northerly point of mainland Ireland, Malin Head is the very north tip of the Inishowen Peninsula and its wild rugged beauty is pretty awe-inspiring! It’s also the start of the Wild Atlantic Way, and, if you’re fans of Ireland like us, it’s one of those bucket list places that you’ve just got to cross off your list. 

3. Mamore Gap (30-minute drive)

mamore gap donegal

Photos by Ondrej Prochazka/Shutterstock

One of the most unique stretches of road in Ireland, the Mamore Gap rises up to 800ft above sea level and the views from the summit are epic! Park up at the car park near the holy shrine (yes, there’s also a holy shrine!) and take a bit of time to fully appreciate the gorgeous panoramas down towards Dunaff Head.

FAQs about visiting Culdaff Beach

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where do you park?’ to ‘Can you swim there?’.

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.

Can you swim at Culdaff Beach?

Culdaff is a popular swimming spot but just keep in mind that lifeguards are only on duty during the summer months, so ensure to only enter the water if you’re a capable swimmer.

Is parking at Culdaff a nightmare?

For the majority of the year, no. However, during the busy summer months nabbing a space in the ‘main’ beach car park can be tricky.

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