A Guide To Visiting Fanore Beach In Clare

fanore beach
Photo left: Johannes Rigg. Photo right: mark_gusev (Shutterstock)

The beautiful Fanore Beach in Clare is up there with my favourite beaches in Ireland, and for good reason.

Fanore Beach is a lovely Blue Flag beach located in a wonderfully scenic coastal area in the Burren National Park.

The beach is a popular spot for swimming (care is needed – read below) and it boasts an impressive sand dune system.

In the guide below, you’ll find everything you need to know about Fanore Beach, from swimming info to what to see nearby.

Some quick need-to-knows before you visit Fanore Beach in Clare

Fanore beach
Photo by mark_gusev (Shutterstock)

Although a visit to Fanore Beach in Clare is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

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!

1. Location

Just off the coastal road between the towns of Ballyvaughan and Doolin, Fanore Beach is a long stretch of sand dunes backed by limestone hills. It’s located next to the little village of Fanore County Clare. 

2. Parking

There’s a large car park right next to Fanore Beach, however, it can be easy to miss when you’re driving the coast road (the scenery is incredible), so make sure to keep an eye out for the signs.

3. Surfing and swimming

The sandy beach and clear waters of Fanore make it a popular destination for surfers and swimmers, with lifeguards present in the summer months. There’s also a surf school at Fanore (info below).

About Fanore Beach in the Burren

fanore beach
Photo left: Johannes Rigg. Photo right: mark_gusev (Shutterstock)

Fanore Beach is a gorgeous stretch of sand and it’s a great place to escape to for a ramble if you’re staying in Doolin or Fanore.

This is a popular sandy inlet located where the Caher River meets the North Atlantic Ocean. It’s a very distinctive geological sight, with the golden arc of the beach backed by bare limestone hills.

Aside from the walking and swimming opportunities, you’ll also find a complex of sand dunes at Fanore Beach that have built up over thousands of years.

Evidence of life from 6,000 years ago

The limestone bedrock of the area occasionally becomes exposed on the beach at low tide. At close examination, the bedrock is littered with abundant fossils and erosion that have developed over millions of years in the shallow seabed. 

Archaeologists have also found evidence of people living amongst the sand dunes on the beach dating back 6,000 years. This is the oldest archaeological evidence in the Burren area, making it an important historical site.

Surfing at Fanore 

If you’re looking for a unique experience, you can try surfing at Fanore Beach with the folks from Aloha Surf School.

Aloha has been operating since back in 2004 and they offer everything from surf lessons to Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (update: the SUP takes place in nearby Ballyvaughan).

Things to do near Fanore Beach

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

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Fanore (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. The Burren National Park

the burren
Photo left: gabriel12. Photo right: Lisandro Luis Trarbach (Shutterstock)

In the centre of County Clare, the Burren National Park encompasses 1500 hectares of the broader area known as the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark. The region is characterised by an exposed limestone bedrock landscape that appears almost otherworldly.

It’s popular with hikers, photographers and nature enthusiasts, who come to the wilderness area in search of solitude and unique flora and fauna. You’ll find some great rambles in the area in our Burren walks guide.

2. Doolin Cave

doolin cave tour
Photo left via Doolin Cave. Photo right by Johannes Rigg (Shutterstock)

On the western edge of the Burren area, Doolin Cave is a unique limestone cave. At 7.3m it is the longest free-hanging stalactite in Europe, often referred to as the Great Stalactite. Suspended from the ceiling, it’s a truly incredible sight. Just outside of Doolin town, there are guided tours and an award-winning visitor centre onsite. 

3. Poulnabrone Dolmen

Poulnabrone dolmen in the burren
Photos via Shutterstock

One of the most important archaeological sites in the Burren area, this unusually Poulnabrone Dolmen is the oldest dated megalithic monument in Ireland. After the Cliffs of Moher, it’s the most visited place in the Burren region. 

Excavations revealed that the tomb was in use for a period of 600 years, between 5800 and 5200 years ago. The huge stones would have been impressively extracted from the surrounding limestone pavement. 

4. Aillwee Cave

Aillwee caves in clare
Photo left via the Aillwee Cave. Photo right via Burren Birds of Prey Centre (Facebook)

Another cave in the Burren area, the Aillwee Caves are a cave system in the karst landscape. Privately owned, the cave was discovered by local farmer Jack McGann in 1940 but wasn’t fully explored until 1977. 

Formed by water flowing through the cracks, it’s one of the oldest caves in the area with evidence of fossil soils that are over 300 million years old. It forms part of the Aillwee Cave, Birds of Prey Centre and Farmshop complex just south of Ballyvaughn. 

5. Doonagore Castle

Doonagore Castle
Photo by shutterupeire (Shutterstock)

Just 1km south of the coastal village of Doolin, the 16th century Doonagore Castle looks like it belongs in a Disney fairy-tale film. It’s actually a round tower house rather than a castle, and has a small courtyard surrounded by a defensive wall. 

Its elevated location overlooking Doolin Point made it a navigational landmark for boats pulling into Doolin Pier.

FAQs about Fanore Beach

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from whether it’s OK to go swimming at Fanore Beach to where to park.

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 in Fanore Beach?

Yes, you can go swimming at Fanore Beach, HOWEVER, care is required at all times when entering the water in Ireland. This is a Blue Flag beach and it’s a popular swim spot. 

Are dogs allowed on Fanore beach?

Dogs are not allowed on the beach between 10 and 6pm.

Is there much to see nearby?

Yes – you’ve everything from Poulnabrone Dolmen and the Burren to Doolin and much more nearby (see suggestions above).

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.

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