When people refer to Howth Beach, they’re talking about one of four.
The picturesque harbour town of Howth is home to Red Rock Beach, Claremont Beach, Balscadden Bay Beach and a ‘hidden’ beach that comes with a lot of warnings.
But more on that below. There’s heaps of things to do in Howth, and there are few things as fine as a paddle after a few hours spent tackling the Howth Cliff Path.
In the guide below, you’ll find everything you need to know about the different beaches in Howth, from where to find them (two are relatively hidden) to where to park.
Some quick need-to-knows about the different Howth beaches
There’s some quick need-to-knows before you head off on a Howth beach day, as two of the beaches in the area are reasonably hidden.
1. There are 4 beaches
Ok, so there are actually only 3 beaches that we’re recommending you visit but there is a 4th that is worth seeing from above (more on this below). The most popular beaches in Howth are Red Rock Beach, Claremont Beach and Balscadden Bay Beach.
2. Safety warning
Understanding water safety is absolutely crucial when visiting beaches in Ireland. Please take a minute to read these water safety tips. Cheers!
3. Swimming (always check locally)
If you’re planning on going for a dip, then check ahead first. There have been a few no-swim notices popping up here and there lately due to bacterial issues in the water so give the name of the beach a quick Google along with the word ‘news’ for the latest info.
About the Howth Beaches
Many people come to Howth to ramble along the famous Howth Cliff Walk, see the elegant Howth Castle or to take advantage of the pretty harbour’s many bars and restaurants, but its beaches are perhaps a little underrated.
Ever since the railway line was completed in 1847, Howth has been attracting recreational visitors who want to get away from the city and enjoy the peninsula’s fresh air and gorgeous coastal views.
It even became famous for the apparent healing powers of its waters, and the railway company tried to take advantage of the health and holiday attractions at Howth and offered first-class tickets that included the use of changing cubicles on Balscadden beach!
Even if that sort of thing is no longer believed (or offered), the allure of Howth’s beaches and water is still strong. Here’s a look at each beach:
1. Red Rock Beach
The first of Howth’s ‘hidden beaches’, Red Rock Beach is located on the southern side of the Peninsula and a moderate level of fitness is required to reach it.
If you’re taking on the longest iteration of the Howth Cliff Walk, then you’re bound to come across Red Rock Beach on the ramble around from Sutton.
You can park up on Sutton Road here then when you’re through the entrance and past the Martello Tower, the rocky (and reddish!) beach will appear on the right-hand side.
The ground on the way there can be a bit uneven so take care when walking (especially if it’s windy). Here’s the start of the trail along the coast.
2. The ‘Hidden’ Beach (read warnings!)
The hidden beach in Howth is an Instagram favourite, however, this is one of several beaches in Dublin we’d recommend giving a wide berth.
Whether you’re taking a cursory look on Google Maps or peering over its precipitous edge in real life, this tiny beach on Howth’s southeastern corner simply isn’t worth the potential pitfalls that could arise.
No doubt it looks seductive and it’s always going to offer a challenge to competitive souls with a name like ‘the hidden beach’, but with its steep face, uneven ground and unpredictably wild winds, it’s better to simply admire from above.
Related reads: Check out our guide to 13 of the best restaurants in Howth (from cheap eats to fine dining) and our guide to our favourite pubs in Howth
3. Claremont Beach
Two beaches flank Howth’s lively harbour and the one on the western side is Claremont Beach. With acres of sand to play in, it’s a great spot for the family to spend some time at before heading into town for something to eat a little later.
There are also great views towards Ireland’s Eye. It’s actually kind of hidden itself and to get to it you need to walk through a lane that runs beside the DART station through the industrial environs of the West Pier.
Also, at low water Claremont beach blends together and becomes one with Sutton’s Burrow Beach, thus becoming known to locals as the Hole-In-The-Wall beach.
4. Balscadden Bay Beach
When people refer to Howth Beach, they’re usually referring to the popular Balscadden Bay Beach, located on the opposite side of Howth harbour.
While it isn’t sandy, it is pretty and has some nice views looking toward the Howth Cliffs and across the water to Ireland’s Eye.
There’s plenty of parking around the harbour and access to the beach is down a steep set of stone steps just around the corner from the King Sitric restaurant.
Balscadden is also popular with seals and it’s pretty common to see their heads bobbing up and down in the sea!
Other great beaches in Dublin nearby
There’s plenty of brilliant beaches in Dublin and you’re rarely too far away from one, regardless of what part of the county you’re based.
Here are a handful of sandy spots a stone’s throw from the four beaches in Howth mentioned above.
1. Burrow Beach (Sutton)
Tucked away on the north side of the narrow neck between Dublin city and the Howth peninsula, Burrow Beach is a veritable smorgasbord of sand dunes with some cracking views of Ireland’s Eye and the Portmarnock. It’s never too busy either, so it’s a good spot to visit if you’re not in the mood for Dublin’s more well-known beaches.
2. Dollymount Strand (Clontarf)
Extending out along the eastern side of North Bull Island, the stunning Dollymount Strand is a popular spot with a load of other natural attractions (dunes, marshes and a ton of wildlife) to keep your attention if the weather takes a turn. Hit up the excellent Happy Out for a caffeine fix alongside pastries and sweet treats.
3. Velvet Strand (Portmarnock)
Known as the Velvet Strand thanks to its silky smooth sand, Portmarnock Beach is a lovely beach for a stroll and comes with some bonus pioneering aviation stories too! While easy to reach by car, DART and bus, don’t forget that 90 years ago legendary pilot Charles Kingsford Smith once took off a plane from these velvety sands (hence the name!).
FAQs about the best beaches in Howth
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from can you swim in Howth to which Howth beach is the best.
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.
Which is the best of the 4 beaches in Howth?
Claremont Beach and Claremont Beach are our go-tos. Although Red Rock Beach offers great coastal views, it’s stoney and isolated.
Is there a hidden Howth beach?
Yes. There is. However, we’d recommend you only admire it from above and avoid walking down to it. See info above as to why.