The Caves of Maghera and Maghera Beach are one of the more unique places to visit in Donegal.
A stone’s throw from Adara, this sandy stretch is one of the finest beaches in Donegal and, although busy during summer, it’s quiet throughout the year.
In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from parking at Maghera Beach to why you need to be VERY CAREFUL before you enter the Maghera Caves. Dive on in!
Some need-to-knows before you visit the Caves of Maghera and Maghera Beach
Although a visit to Maghera Strand is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
You’ll find Maghera Caves and Beach on the northern side of the Slieve League Peninsula. It’s. 15-minute drive from Ardara (hence why some refer to it as Ardara Beach) and a 30-minute drive from Glencolmcille.
There’s a car park that’s run by a local who charges a very reasonable €3 and he also maintains the pathways (here on Google Maps). You can also pay €0.50 to use the toilet (prices may change).
3. Getting to the beach
It’s a bit of a walk into the beach from the car park, but it shouldn’t prove much hassle once you have decent mobility. As you stroll, you’ll be treated to stunning views and your breath will catch when the beach itself comes into sight.
4. The caves (warning)
The Caves of Maghera attract people from far and wide, but they come with a warning – they’re only accessible when the tide is out. These are the last place you want to be when the tide starts to come back in, so GREAT CARE is needed. Only enter if you can read tide times.
5. No swimming
Although the water here looks inviting, especially on warm days, it isn’t safe to swim at Maghera Beach due to dangerous rip tide. Please, please pay heed to this warning.
About Maghera Beach
The stunning Maghera Beach is arguably one of the most impressive of the many magnificent beaches in Donegal. When you first step out onto the sand here, you get the sense that you’re discovering a place that many others haven’t.
Of course, this isn’t the case, but Maghera Beach has a glorious under-explored feel to it. The beach runs for almost 5km when the tide is out and you’ll often find yourself the only visitor there, apart, that is, from the sand martins in the cliffs and the Burnet Moths in the sand dunes.
Perfect white sand, deep blue water and the dunes for shelter if the wind is strong, entice tourists from all over the world to visit this hidden gem. The road to the beach is narrow, and you’ll need to be patient, but the views are worth it.
About Maghera Caves
If you’re arriving at the beach specifically to see the Maghera Caves you must be there for low tide. This is extremely important to note as the tide can come in quickly and flood the caves.
Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to enter the Caves of Maghera without checking the tide times in advance – this might sound like we’re being extreme with our warnings, but care really is needed.
With more than 20 caves, 8 arches, and 5 tunnels there’s a lot to see here. According to legend, locals sheltered in the caves from Cromwell but, in fact, he never ventured this far north.
It’s more likely that they sheltered from Vikings who did land in Donegal. The Maghera Caves can be dark, so a touch comes in handy if you want to explore!
Places to visit near Maghera Beach and Caves
One of the beauties of Ardara 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 Maghera Strand.
1. Assaranca Waterfall (2-minute drive)
Spectacular after rainfall, Assaranca Waterfall is within walking distance of Maghera Beach. There’s parking in front of the waterfall and it tends to be nice and quiet here.
2. Glengesh Pass (20-minute drive)
On your way from Sliabh Liag to Maghera Beach discover the jaw-dropping views at Glengesh Pass from the lookout/picnic area at the top. Then follow the bendy road through the valley.
3. Slieve League (35-minute drive)
4. Lots more attractions (35-minute + drive)
There’s plenty more to see and do near the Caves of Maghera. You have Portnoo Beach a 30-minute drive away, Donegal’s secret waterfall a 35-minute drive away and Malin Beg Beach a 40-minute drive away.
FAQs about the Caves of Maghera
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Can you visit at high tide?’ (no!) to ‘How much is parking?’.
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 Maghera Beach and Caves?
No. There’s dangerous rip tides here which makes swimming an absolute no go. Please make sure to keep your feet on dry land during your visit.
Where’s the Maghera car park?
It’s a stone’s throw from the beach. It’s €3 and you can pay an additional €0.50 to use the toilet on-site. Keep in mind it’ll be busy during summer.
I was born in a quiet corner of a Gaeltacht on the Dingle Peninsula. Over the years, I’ve explored Ireland far and wide, from the wilds of West Clare to the shores of Sherkin. Particularly fond of heritage, history and hikes (and words beginning with ‘H’, apparently…).