The incredible Derrynane Beach in Kerry is one of the finest stretches of sand in the county.
The sheltered dune-backed beach is a crescent of white sand overlooking Abbey Island with its ancient burial ground and ruins of a long-forgotten mediaeval church.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything you need to know about visiting Derrynane Beach, from where to park to what to see nearby.
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!
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Derrynane Beach in Kerry
A visit to Derrynane Beach in Caherdaniel 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.
There’s free parking (note the height-restriction barrier) right next to Derrynane Beach but it does get busy in the summer. If you visit off-season, chances are that you can have this place all to yourself. It’s signposted from the main road (N70) 3.5km west of Caherdaniel.
Derrynane Beach is a great place for a dip with a lifeguard service in summer, but pay attention to where you swim. There’s a section of the beach known locally as “Danger Beach”.
So, while the Blue Flag waters are sheltered, there are some dangerous currents, so it’s advisable to avoid swimming in the danger-marked area. As always, ONLY enter the water when it’s safe to do so!
Derrynane Beach in Kerry is perfect for all types of water-sports including stand-up paddle-boarding, sailing, snorkeling and diving. Derrynane Sea Sports has been operating for 26 years and offers tuition along with canoes, sailing boats and windsurfing equipment for hire. It’s also a good place to give body-boarding, water-skiing and wake-boarding a try.
As Derrynane Beach is part of a National Historic Park, wild camping is permitted although not encouraged. You may be approached by a park warden but generally, as long as you leave the place litter-free, there’s no problem. See more places to go camping in Kerry.
5. A handy spot to visit from Killarney
About Derrynane Beach in Caherdaniel
Said to be one of the best beaches in Ireland, Derrynane Beach in Kerry is a curving bow of white sand and Blue Flag waters on the tip of the Iveragh Peninsula.
Nearby Abbey Island creates a sheltered natural harbour. There’s footpath access from Derrynane House, the former home of “Liberator” Daniel O’Connell.
This idyllic dog-friendly beach with its clear turquoise waters has scattered rocks and a tidal island at the western end.
Curious visitors can easily reach Abbey Island along the sandy spit and explore the remains of 8th century St Finian’s Abbey and graveyard. What a breathtaking place to be laid to rest!
Things to do near Derrynane Beach in Kerry
One of the beauties of Derrynane Beach in Kerry is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other attractions, both man-made and natural.
From the historic Derrynane House to more beaches, lively towns and much more, there’s loads to see and do nearby, as you’ll discover below.
1. Derrynane House
Derrynane House was the ancestral home of politician Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847), known as “The Liberator”.
It stands in the 300-acre Derrynane National Historic Park. O’Connell’s life and achievements are preserved in the house/museum which attracts an admission fee. It is surrounded by beautiful 18th century gardens with a summer house and scenic walks.
The nearest coastal village is Caherdaniel, a nice place to stop for a bite to eat with plenty of cafés, pubs and restaurants.
Famous for its fishing, the village has stunning views across Derrynane Harbour, Scariff and Deenish Islands and Kenmare Bay. Home of ancient poets and writers, the village has a stone fort and is brimming with character.
3. Skellig Ring Drive
Offering beautiful scenery, Skellig Ring Drive is wilder and quieter (no buses allowed!) than its better known neighbour, the Ring of Kerry.
The start is signposted just past Waterville on the N70. Although it looks like a footpath, it’s actually a road (R567)! Just follow it around, drinking in the panoramic sights. You’ll rejoin the Ring of Kerry south of Cahersiveen.
4. Derrynane Abbey
Known as Mainistir Achaidh Mhóir, Derrynane Abbey is a ruin dating back to the 8th century, and possibly even earlier.
Accessed along a sandy spit from Derrynane Beach, the remaining walls are of three interconnecting buildings with arched windows framing sea views. The site is overgrown and includes a graveyard containing some noteworthy family tombs.
5. Staigue Stone Fort
Staigue Stone Fort is a well-preserved 5th century fort which is free to visit near Sneem. Built as a stronghold for the local king, it is 27 metres in diameter, surrounded by a ditch. This circular fort sits on a mound with 4-metre-thick walls standing over 5 metres high. Now that’s a lot of stones!
FAQs about visiting Derrynane Beach in Kerry
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where to park at Derrynane Beach to whether or not it’s OK to 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.
Is it easy to get parking at Derrynane Beach?
During the off-season, you’ll get parking at Derrynane Beach without any hassle. Even during the summer months, at times, it can be quiet here. However, at the weekends and where the weather is particularly hot, parking can be tough to get!
Is it safe to swim on Derrynane Beach?
Yes, swimming on parts of Derrynane Beach is completely safe, once you use common sense and be careful. However, please see the note above about the section of Derrynane known as ‘Danger Beach’.
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.