The often-missed Streedagh Beach is one of my favourite beaches in Sligo.
Surfers, walkers and those interested in history (specifically shipwrecks), flock to Streedagh Strand to take advantage of all this natural tourist attraction offers.
In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from parking at Streedagh to what to visit nearby when you’re done.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Streedagh Beach
Although a visit to Streedagh Beach is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Water safety warning: Understanding water safety is absolutely crucial when visiting beaches in Ireland. Please take a minute to read these water safety tips. Cheers!
There’s a decent car park with plenty of space near the beach and as an added bonus, you’ll get views of Benbulben Mountain, so if the weather’s a bit on the chilly side, you can admire it from the comfort of your car!
Streedagh Strand is more popular with surfers because it is an exposed beach with reef breaks. Swimming at Streedagh is recommended for experienced swimmers, only, due to strong tides and undercurrents. A lifeguard is on duty during the summer months.
4. The shipwreck
Streedagh Beach is well-known for being the location of three shipwrecks, the boats washed up on Ireland’s shores during the unsuccessful Spanish invasion of England. There is also another wreck, known as the “butter boat”, once thought to be part of the Spanish Armada but later discovered to be an 18th century boat, a trading vessel that was swept out to sea in 1770 with the loss of all on board.
About Streedagh Beach
Streedagh Beach is a gorgeous stretch of strand that has won a Green Coast Award for its water quality and its outstanding rural location. It is a favourite spot with walkers, horse riders and kite surfers.
The limestone cliffs and rocks west of Streedagh Beach contain numerous species of fossil coral, including Zaphrentis, formed about four hundred million years ago.
The Armada shipwreck
The three Spanish Armada ships that washed up here are La Lavia, La Juliana, and the Santa Maria de Visón, part of the Armada Levant squadron.
They set sail for England from Lisbon in May 1588, part of a fleet of 130 ships that was intended to escort an army from Flanders to invade England and overthrow Queen Elizabeth I, as King Phillip II wanted to halt the spread of Protestantism, stop English interference in the Spanish Netherlands and the disruption caused by English and Dutch privateers.
The Armada anchored off Calais, but while waiting for communications from the Duke of Parma, English fireships attacked, scattering the fleet. The fleet was further damaged by another battle and the wind changed.
As the Armada attempted to return to Spain around Scotland and Ireland, storms set in and many of the ships were wrecked on the Irish and Scottish coastlines. The three ships at Streedagh were driven onto the shores on 21 September, where they broke up.
Those sailors who did not drown were mostly murdered by English troops stationed at Sligo, though some of them survived, helped by some of the Irish chieftains in the area, including one Captain Francisco de Cuellar, who managed to flee Ireland and return to the service of Phillip II.
The Streedagh Beach walk
Coastal walks endure in popularity, especially when so many of us live in the urban sprawl. The 3km Streedagh Beach walk is a linear route that takes around 1.5 hours to complete.
The walk will take you along the Atlantic coastline and allows walkers access to the rocks that are embedded with fossils and the Armada shipwreck site.
Things to do near Streedagh Beach
One of the beauties of Streedagh Beach is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Sligo.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Streedagh Strand (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. The Gleniff Horseshoe Drive
The wonderful Gleniff Horseshoe Drive is a single lane road surrounded by mountain views, and it makes for a gorgeous motoring trip. Or, if you’re feeling energetic, why not walk it? Here’s a full guide to follow (with a handy Google Map).
2. Glencar Waterfall
The Glencar Waterfall is notable in that it provided the inspiration for the Irish poet WB Yeats’ poem, The Stolen Child. Situated at Glencar Lough, the waterfall reaches 50 feet, and you can view it on the short walk through the woods where there are viewing platforms. You can also visit the nearby Devil’s Chimney while you’re there.
3. Classiebawn Castle
FAQs about visiting Streedagh Strand
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from whether it’s OK to swim on Streedagh Beach to what to see nearby.
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 in Streedagh Beach?
Swimming at Streedagh is recommended for experienced swimmers, only, due to strong tides and undercurrents. A lifeguard is on duty during the summer months.
How long does the Streedagh Beach walk take?
You’ll want to allow around 1.5 hours to complete the walk here, as the beach stretches for an impressive 3km.
Emma Baird is a lifestyle editor and novelist. She has worked in the communications industry for more than 25 years, and loves animals, the countryside and lingering in a great pub for the food and the craic.