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Old Head Beach: Parking, Swimming + Visitor Info

Old Head Beach: Parking, Swimming + Visitor Info

With a Blue Flag for 2024 and a summer lifeguard service, there is a lot to like about Mayo’s Old Head Beach.

Situated in Louisburgh, Old Head measures around 2.26km, if you include the adjoining Kilsallagh Bay Beach.

The beach is also part of Mayo’s Blueway – a collection of water trails that are suitable for kayaking and snokelling.

Below, you’ll find a map of the area along with info on parking, swimming and more.

Some quick need-to-knows about Old Head Beach


Although a visit to Old Head Beach is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

Old Head Beach is on the shores of Clew Bay in County Mayo. It’s in between Louisburgh and Kilsallagh and is less than 30 minutes from Westport by car. 

2. Parking

There’s a car park across from the beach. Note that you’ll need to drive under a height restriction barrier to enter. There’s  alsolimited roadside parking on the pier, but make sure not to park in areas reserved for emergency vehicles (see parking on Google Maps here and here).

3. Swimming

Old Head Beach is a popular spot for swimming when conditions allow and in the summer there’s a lifeguard service. The service runs on the weekends during June, every day in July and August, and on the first weekend of September. 


About Old Head Beach

Although there are many mighty beaches in Mayo, few are as popular as the brilliant Old Head Beach near Louisburgh.

This is a 2.26km long sandy stretch flanked by rocky outcrops at one end and a pier at the other.

On the other side of the pier, there’s a small sandy cove bordered by the Oldhead Wood Nature Reserve, which has a scenic walking trail. 

There’s also a sauna near the pier where you can warm up after a dip in the chilly Atlantic.


SUP and kayaking at Old Head

old head beach

Photo via Shutterstock

Old Head Beach is a good spot for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, regardless of whether you’re new to watersports and want to take lessons, or you’d like to rent equipment and head out by yourself!

You’ll find Summer SUP in the main car park. They are open seasonally from the May Bank Holiday Weekend through to September.

They offer both SUP and kayaking lessons, tours, and equipment rental.


Things to do near Old Head Beach

best things to do in mayo Ireland

One of the beauties of Old Head is that it’s a short spin away from many of the most popular attractions in Mayo.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Old Head!

1. The Lost Valley (30-minute drive)

the lost valley

Photos via the Lost Valley

This remote corner of Mayo is filled with beautiful landscapes and rich history.

During walking tours of The Lost Valley you’ll get to experience untouched lakes, forests, and countryside, all while learning about The Great Famine and its impact on the area.


2. Silver Strand (30-minute drive)

Silver Strand Louisburgh

Photo left and top right: Kelvin Gillmor. Other: Google Maps

Silver Strand is another off-the-beaten-path beach that is well worth the visit.

It’s a sheltered sandy beach that is popular with swimmers and families, however, there’s no lifeguard service, so swimmers need to take extra care.


3. Doolough Valley (20-minute drive)

the doolough valley

Photos via Shutterstock

There’s no better place to experience County Mayo’s rugged beauty than in the Doolough Valley.

Tucked between mountains and hills, the valley, lakes, and tragic famine history will take your breath away.


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