Known locally as Dunfanaghy Beach, Killahoey Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Donegal.
One of several beaches dotted in and around Dunfanaghy (Marble Hill and Tramore are both worth a visit too!), Killahoey Beach is a glorious sandy stretch looking out towards Sheephaven Bay.
In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from parking and swimming to where to visit nearby. Dive on in!
Some quick need-to-knows about Killahoey Beach
Although a visit to Dunfanaghy Beach is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
You’ll find this beach along the western side of Sheephaven Bay on the north Donegal coast. Just outside the village of Dunfanaghy, it’s a 15-minute drive from Falcarragh, a 25-minute drive from Downings and a 30-minute drive from Gweedore.
Head towards the beach from the village (past the golf club) and you’ll find a decently-sized parking area with a sandy entrance to the beach between two dunes (here on Google Maps). As you can imagine, this place gets pretty rammed during the summer so arrive earlier to guarantee a space!
Killahoey is a popular spot for swimming and you’ll have a lifeguard service in the months of July and August every day from 12pm to 6.30pm. Be careful, however, as the area can get windy at times and the water can also be rather choppy. If in doubt, keep your feet on dry land and just enjoy the views!
4. Water safety (please read)
Understanding water safety is absolutely crucial when visiting beaches in Ireland. Please take a minute to read these water safety tips. Cheers!
About Killahoey Beach
At just under 1.5 km in length, Killahoey is a long old beach with loads of room to explore and a large mudflat at its eastern end.
There are plenty of spectacular views to be had in this picturesque location, so enjoy panoramic vistas of Horn Head, Muckish Mountain and the Rossguill Peninsula.
Killahoey is also a Blue Flag beach and the area is a great spot for bird watching. Keep an eye out for Oyster Catchers, Tern, Sanderling and Dunlin, as well Cormorant and the easily-identifiable Grey Heron.
Dunfanaghy village is less than a km from the beach, so if you need some snacks or a drink it’s just a short ramble.
Things to do at Killahoey Beach
The big draw of Dunfanaghy Beach is the sand and the views, but you can always combine your stroll with something tasty. Here’s some suggestions:
1. Grab something tasty to-go from nearby
There’s some excellent restaurants in Dunfanaghy (like the Rusty Oven) and there’s some great spots for a bite-to-go, too!
One of our go-to places is Muck n Muffins! Not only do they specialise in lovely ceramics and pottery, you’ll also be able to pick up some indulgent sweet treats to go with your coffee.
They also serve lunch too, if you’re in need of something more substantial, so don’t hesitate to get stuck into a warm panini or a hearty lasagne.
2. The head for a ramble along the sand
Once you’ve grabbed yourself a caffeine fix and something tasty, make the short 15-minute stroll through town to Killahoey Beach and enter through the dunes onto Killahoey’s golden expanse!
Head for a saunter along the three-mile stretch and take in the beautiful panorama beyond Sheephaven Bay. Then turn around and try and spot the very distinct shape of Muckish Mountain in distance.
Oh, and make sure to look out for all that birdlife I mentioned earlier! And if the weather’s nice, kick off your shoes and go for a paddle in those clear Blue Flag waters.
Places to visit near Killahoey Beach
One of the beauties of Dunfanaghy Beach is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Donegal.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the sand!
1. Horn Head (10-minute drive)
Sticking out into the North Atlantic from the north Donegal coast, Horn Head offers some seriously stunning views! Home to sweeping scenery, dramatic cliffs and even a WW2 lookout tower, it’s a rugged wind-whipped spot that’s just a 10-minute drive from Killahoey Beach.
2. Downings (25-minute drive)
With a striking horseshoe shape, Downings Beach’s gorgeous golden sands and beautiful scenery make it one of Donegal’s more distinct beaches. And with a great little town situated right behind Downings Beach, it’s ideal for grabbing a coffee or a quick feed. And don’t miss the chance for a creamy pint with a view from the Harbour Bar!
3. Glenveagh National Park (25-minute drive)
The second biggest park in Ireland, Glenveagh National Park is crammed with thick forests, clear lakes, cascading waterfalls, rugged mountains and even a castle! And as you can imagine, there are plenty of invigorating walks here that’ll stretch your legs! Go for the Garden Trail if you fancy an easy walk with some lovely scenery.
4. Ards Forest Park (15-minute drive)
With sand dunes, woodlands, wildlife, salt marshes and up to nine different trails to take on, you can easily spend a whole day rambling around Ards Forest Park! The 1200-acre park is just a 15-minute drive away, so if you want to see Donegal at its natural best then make the short journey over.
FAQs about Dunfanaghy Beach
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What are the tide times?’ to ‘Are there toilets?’ (there’s portaloos).
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 there much parking at Dunfanaghy Beach?
No. There’s only a little bit of parking next to it, which is fine for most months of the year but it fills up fast on warm summer days.
Can you swim at Killahoey Beach?
This is a popular spot for a swim but keep in mind that lifeguards are only on duty during the summer, so only enter the water in good conditions and if you’re an experienced swimmer.