Mannin Bay Beach and Blueway is one of Galway’s hidden gems.
Famed for its ‘coral’ sands, crystal clear turquoise waters, and opportunities to enjoy numerous watersports, it’s a must if you’re touring the Connemara coastline.
In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from Mannin Bay Beach to what to see while you’re there.
Some quick need-to-knows about the Mannin Bay Blueway
Before you jump in the car and get down there, let’s take a quick look at the basics (they’ll save you time in the long run!).
Slightly off the beaten track, The Mannin Bay Blueway is in the gorgeous Connemara region in County Galway. At a handy 10-minute spin away, it’s one of the more popular beaches near Clifden (Connemara’s capital) and around a 1.5-hour drive from Galway City.
There’s a small but handy car park on the edge of the road near Mannin Bay Beach, just a few steps from the lovely white sands (here on Google Maps).
Mannin Bay Blueway looks like a great place to swim, with the calm, sheltered waters popular with snorkelers. But no matter how hard we looked, we weren’t able to find any official information and as far as we can see, there’s no lifeguard service. As such, be sure to check locally before jumping in for a swim.
About the Mannin Bay Beach and Blueway
Mannin Bay Blueway is sometimes referred to as the Irish Seychelles, and it’s not hard to see why!
With its soft, white sands, clear, azure waters, and scenic surroundings, it’s easy to see why. On a good day, it really looks like a tropical beach rather than an Irish one!
The famous water trails
The stunning sands combine with crystal clear waters to provide the perfect place to see marine life going about its business.
In fact, The Mannin Bay Blueway is essentially a network of water trails that allow visitors to do just that in a controlled environment.
There’s a 4.5-mile kayak trail to explore, as well as various snorkelling areas, both offering the chance to get close to the diverse sea life and marine plants that call the bay home.
Something in the sand
There’s more to the Mannin Bay Blueway than just aesthetics, though. From a distance, the gorgeous white sand looks like it does at many other beaches in Connemara.
But when you get up close, you’ll notice that there’s something a little different about the sand at Mannin Bay Beach.
The first thing you’ll cop is that it’s a lot coarser than the sand at other beaches in Galway.
That’s because it’s not derived from stone like most sand, but is instead made from a mix of coralline seaweed and the skeletal remains of sea creatures such as mollusks, barnacles, and sponges!
Look even closer and you’ll start seeing fossils, shells, and other curiosities.
Things to do around Mannin Bay Beach
There are plenty of things to do at the Mannin Bay Blueway, with options for all the family. Here are some of our top picks.
1. Give watersports a lash
No visit to the Mannin Bay Blueway is complete without trying out the local waters ports. Don’t worry if you’ve never done it before or don’t have the equipment, there are a number of companies that offer guided tours and equipment hire.
We’d recommend this two-and-a-half-hour guided kayak tour of the bay from Connemara Wild Escapes.
They’ll provide you with all the gear you need and take you down the famous water trails, pointing out the sights beneath you and all around.
There’s also a stop at the local seal colony, as well as snorkelling, ensuring you really make the most of your time with them.
2. See some of the finest beaches in Connemara
When you’re at the Mannin Bay Blueway, you’ll find yourself surrounded by fantastic beaches. Closest and perhaps most notable is Coral Strand (not to be confused with Coral Strand in Carraroe).
The name is slightly deceiving though. As beautiful as the sands here are, they’re not coral — which prefers warmer waters — but are instead known as maerl.
Featuring the mix of crushed coralline algae and ancient sea creatures we talked about earlier, they’re filled with fascinating fossils and shells.
Ballyconneely Bay Beach is also just around the corner. It’s slightly rockier, but still has plenty of sandy stretches. Ideal for rock pooling and soaking up the views, it’s another top spot.
3. Head for a ramble
If you’re looking to stretch your legs, you’re in the perfect place. There are several walks you could take. For something easy-going, enjoy a relaxing ramble across the various beaches, checking out the rock pools as you go.
Alternatively, mix things up a bit by exploring the nearby grasslands, beaches, cliffs, and coves as you head west.
If you follow the road past Connemara Sands Beach Hotel and Spa for a bit, you’ll find a gate that gives you access to the surrounding fields.
Be advised, there is normally livestock here, so keep your dogs on a lead! If you follow the grassy fields to the sea, you’ll find some lovely secluded beaches and coves to explore.
Things to do near the Mannin Bay Blueway
One of the beauties of Mannin Bay Beach is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Galway.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Mannin Bay (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Alcock and Brown Landing Site (10-minute drive)
Alcock and Brown were the first two pilots to fly across the Atlantic in one non-stop trip, way back in 1919. While this amazing feat was a success, the landing was somewhat, err, bumpy.
After catching sight of the Irish mainland, bad weather started to come in, so they sought to make a triumphant landing in what looked like a green field.
That field turned out to be Derrigimlagh Bog. The two pilots survived the crash, and nowadays you can walk to the memorial and check out a range of interactive displays along the way.
2. Clifden for lunch (10-minute drive)
The small town of Clifden is often called the heart of Connemara and it’s a bustling hub of entertainment, culture, and great pubs and restaurants.
The streets are packed with superb places to eat, with a range of cuisines from around the world to choose from. See our Clifden restaurants guide for recommendations.
3. The Sky Road (10-minute drive)
There aren’t many scenic drives that can match the sheer beauty on offer along the Sky Road. A 16 km circular route that starts in Clifden, it takes you on an incredible journey around the Kingstown Peninsula.
Along the way, you’ll soak up some incredible coastal scenery and quaint grasslands, as well as a good glance at Clifden Castle.
4. Dog’s Bay and Gurteen Bay (15-minute drive)
These two beaches in Roundstone sit back to back, forming a thin spit of land divided by sand dunes and rare grasslands. Known as Dog’s Bay and Gurteen Bay, they’re both famous for their shining white sands and gorgeously clear waters. The sheltered bays are calm, and great for bathing, rock pooling, rambling, and fossil hunting.
FAQs about Mannin Bay Beach
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where do you rent kayaks?’ (see above) to ‘Where’s good for a swim?’.
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.
Where is Mannin Bay?
You’ll Find Mannin Bay a short spin southwest of Clifden Town where it’s home to some of the finest beaches in Galway.
Can you swim at Mannin Bay Beach?
Despite trying, we can’t find any official information on how safe it is to swim here, so we’d recommend checking locally before entering the water.