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A Guide To Five Finger Strand: The Stunning Viewpoint + Swim Warning

A Guide To Five Finger Strand: The Stunning Viewpoint + Swim Warning

Five Finger Strand is one of the most impressive beaches in Donegal.

And, alongside the famous Murder Hole Beach, Five Finger Strand arguably has the most memorable beach name in the county!

With high golden sand dunes and beautiful windswept surroundings, it’s a glorious spot for a stroll if you’re exploring the Inishowen Peninsula.

Below, you’ll find info on the often-missed viewing point (it’s incredible!), parking and several warnings to be aware of.

Some quick need-to-knows about Five Finger Strand

Five finger Strand donegal

Photo by shawnwil23/

Although a visit to Five Finger Strand is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

You’ll find Five Finger Strand on the northern side of Trawbreaga Bay towards the north of the Inishowen Peninsula. It’s a 15-minute drive from Malin Head and a 30-minute drive from Buncrana and Greencastle.

2. Parking

There isn’t a designated car park as such at Five Finger Strand (it’s more of a sandy space at the end of the road – here on Google Maps). Just make sure you don’t block the road when parking along it.

3. Warning: Swimming not allowed

Sadly, swimming is not allowed here due to very dangerous undercurrents and rip tides in the water. So please, please avoid entering the water.

4. 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 Five Finger Strand is one of the stops (here’s a guide to the full route).

About Five Finger Strand

5 fingers strand

Photo via Shutterstock

Ok, so that bizarre name! Where does it come from? Well, the answer’s pretty simple really (compared to Murder Hole anyway!). 

The name comes from five narrow sea stacks that protrude from the water on the north side of the beach which look like fingers (sort of!). But the name isn’t the only interesting thing about Five Finger Strand Beach.

Its 5,000-year-old sand dunes are up to 30 metres high and are among the highest in Europe.

Just behind the beach is the elegant St. Mary’s Church which was built in 1784, making it one of the oldest Catholic churches still in use in Ireland today (and probably one of the most remote too!).

Things to do at Five Finger Strand

Five Finger Strand

Photos via Shutterstock

There’s a handful of things to do in and around Five Finger Strand. The best of which, in our opinion, is the viewing point up at at Knockamany. Here’s some suggestions:

1. Admire it from above, first

You already knew the Donegal coast is home to some of Ireland’s most gloriously rugged scenery, but Five Finger Strand plays its part in one of the county’s very best panoramas.

Leave the nearby R242 and take the narrow winding road that heads north to Dunargus. Climb up this for a short while until you see the oval-shaped car park on the left-hand side (here on Google Maps). 

When you step out of the car, you’ll be treated to a genuinely breathtaking panorama (the one on the left in the photo above)!

With Five Finger Strand stretching out below, you’ll see the wild North Atlantic, stunning shores, rolling hills and soaring mountains.

2. Then follow it up with a ramble

After you’ve taken in those amazing views, don’t hesitate to head on down to the beach itself and catch a few views from a different perspective. 

Stroll along Five Finger Bay’s pristine sands and ramble down to the waters (but remember – DO NOT swim!)

The views here are particularly pretty at sunset, so if you want to see Five Finger at its best then perhaps wait for that golden evening glow. 

Places to visit near Five Finger Strand

One of the beauties of this place is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best things to do in Donegal.

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

1. Malin Head (15-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 awesome.

2. Doagh Famine Village (20-minute drive)

Doagh Famine Village donegal

Photo via Doagh Famine Village on Facebook

A thought-provoking and (at times) humorous look at Irish life, the Doagh Famine Village tells the story of Irish life from the Great Famine of the 1840s through until the present day. Using storytelling and life-size exhibits, it’s one of those unique museums that you won’t find anywhere else (so visit while you can!).

3. Beaches galore (15-minute+ drive)

kinnagoe bat donegal

Photos by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

If you want to seek out some more cracking beaches then the Inishowen Peninsula is the right place! Within half an hour’s drive, you can reach Kinnagoe Bay (20-minute drive), Pollan Strand (20-minute drive), Tullagh Strand (25-minute drive) and Buncrana Beach (30-minute drive).

FAQs about Five Finger Strand Beach

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where do you park?’ to ‘When is low tide?’.

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 Five Finger Strand?

You absolutely cannot swim here due to the very dangerous undercurrents and rip tides. Please keep your feet on dry land during your visit.

Where is the viewing point where you see it from above?

The viewing point where you get that amazing vista is up at Knockamany (we’ve linked the Google Map location in our guide above).

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