Gurteen Bay Beach truly is a sight to behold.
Below, you’ll find info on parking, swimming and nearby attractions! Dive on in!
Some quick need-to-knows about Gurteen Bay
Although a visit to Gurteen Bay Beach is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Gurteen Beach is located around 2km from the scenic Roundstone village in County Galway on the west coast of Ireland. It’s a handy 5-minute drive to Roundstone and a 1 hr 15-minute drive from Galway City via the N59.
You’ll have plenty of parking along the gravel road directly behind the beachfront (though it’s better to arrive early). There might be public toilets here during the summer (but we’re not 100% sure on that). Here’s the parking area on Google Maps.
The water at Gurteen is crystal clear and it’s popular amongst swimmers. Do note that there are no lifeguards on duty here, so caution is needed and only capable swimmers should enter the water. There’s a warning sign in place the states there’s no paddling in the inlet stream.
4. A natural haven
Gurteen Bay isn’t just a pretty face! The area has international importance for its rare and interesting ecological, geological and archaeological features, which I’ll talk about shortly (though I wouldn’t blame you if you simply sat back and admired the sweeping scenery).
About Gurteen Bay
The first thing you’ll notice when you first arrive at Gurteen Bay Beach is the amazing colour of the water! The turquoise shimmer of the water around Gurteen Bay resembles the Caribbean or the French Riviera and is quite an arresting sight at first.
The sand and grassland habitats are one of the most unique features of Gurteen Bay.
Most unusually, the sand on Gurteen Beach was not formed from the local limestone but rather from fragments of seashells of tiny sea creatures known as ‘foraminifera’.
It is these seashells that also give the sand a pure white colour. Oh, and the nearby grasslands, made up of machair vegetation, are considered rare and found only on the west coast of Ireland and Scotland.
Things to do at Gurteen Bay
There’s plenty of things to do in and around Gurteen Beach – here are a handful of suggestions to get you going!
1. Grab a coffee from Good Stuff
While there aren’t any coffee options in Gurteen Bay itself, you’re just a short hop away from charming Roundstone village. And when you’re in Roundstone, head down to leafy Michael Killeen Park and look out for Good Stuff’s friendly food truck.
With all their options on a big chalkboard, Johnny and Lily serve up specialty coffee, toasties, homebaked goods and fresh salads between Thursday and Sunday.
Grabbing a fresh coffee is a given but you’ll regret it if you never try one of their indulgent cheese toasties! Coffee in hand, make the short 5-minute drive back to Gurteen Bay.
2. Then go for a coastal ramble and take in the scenery
Your coffee from Good Stuff will still be piping hot by the time you get back to Gurteen Bay, so head to the steps at the western end of the car park and make for the sand.
Though as you’ll see there’s not just sand occupying space on Gurteen Bay, as chunky rocky sections are dotted all over the place (and are particularly handy for families with kids who love clambering over anything and everything).
And there are few better places in Ireland to kick off your shoes and enjoy a paddle than these wonderfully clear waters! Breath in the clear air and take in some lovely views of the Connemara coast and the distant shape of Errisbeg Mountain.
Places to visit near Gurteen Bay
One of the beauties of Gurteen Bay Beach is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Connemara.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Gurteen!
1. Roundstone Village (5-minute drive)
A picturesque fishing village on the Connemara coast, Roundstone Village is a lovely little spot with some fine places for a pint and a view (such as King’s Bar or Vaughn’s Bar). There’s also some cracking seafood to be found here, with some of the best found at O’Dowd’s Seafood Bar and Restaurant.
2. Ballynahinch Castle (18-minute drive)
Flanked by mountains, lakes and winding roads, Ballynahinch Castle was constructed in 1754 by the Martin family and is in one of Connemara’s most magnificent settings! It’s one of the most impressive hotels in Galway and a great spot for a bit of lunch!
3. Alcock and Brown landing site (24-minute drive)
British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Brown made the first-ever non-stop transatlantic flight in June 1919, journeying 1,880 miles across the Atlantic from Newfoundland before crash-landing at Derrigimlagh Bog. This memorial commemorates their flight.
FAQs about Gurteen Beach
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Can you swim here?’ to ‘Where is there to visit close by?’.
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 Gurteen Bay worth visiting?
Yes. This is one of Galway’s finest beaches and, as it’s right next to Dog’s Bay, you can easily saunter along both in one visit.
Can you swim at Gurteen Bay Beach?
The water at Gurteen is crystal clear and it’s popular amongst swimmers. Do note that there are no lifeguards on duty here, so caution is needed and only capable swimmers should enter the water.