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A Guide To Donegal’s Horseshoe-Shaped Tullagh Bay Beach

A Guide To Donegal’s Horseshoe-Shaped Tullagh Bay Beach

Shaped like a boomerang and flanked by some properly stunning scenery, Tullagh Bay Beach is a gem on County Donegal’s gorgeous north coast!

Part of the Inishowen 100 route, this is a stunner of a spot that’s an absolute joy to saunter along regardless of the time of year.

However, it’s during the summer months that this place really comes alive, as locals and tourists alike flock from far and wide.

Below, you’ll find info on everything from parking and swimming to places to visit a short spin from what is arguably one of the best beaches in Donegal!

Some quick need-to-knows about Tullagh Bay

Tullagh Beach

Photo via Shutterstock

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

1. Location

Though Tullagh Bay looks out towards the wild Atlantic Ocean, its horseshoe curves mean that its spot on the north side of the Inishowen Peninsula is actually pretty sheltered. It’s a 10-minute drive from Ballyliffin, a 20-minute drive from Buncrana and a 40-minute drive from Greencastle.

2. Parking

There’s a decent size car park just behind the beach (here on Google Maps). This car park can get busy in the summer so arrive early to secure a space. Follow the sandy path through the grassy sand dune to access the beach. 

3. Swimming

Although we tried, we could find little-to-no official info online in regards to swimming here, so it’s best to ask around locally to find the deal is with swimming.

4. Part of the Inishowen 100

Scenic drives are always a great way to see a location in a short space of time and the Inishowen 100 is no exception! With some gorgeous spots on the way round, it’s a cracking journey around the Inishowen Peninsula and Tullagh proudly forms part of it. 

About Tullagh Bay

There aren’t a whole lot of beaches in Ireland that look like Tullagh Bay, so that should be reason enough to visit!

But Tullagh is a lot more than simply its unique shape. Watched over on its eastern side by the 250 metre high Binnion Hill, Tullagh Bay is surrounded by some lovely mountainous scenery. 

Its golden sands are deep and wide and are backed by grassy sand dunes. There’s also plenty of action going on at the beach as it’s a popular surfing spot and you’ll even see people riding horses here!

On some bright days the water can turn shades of turquoise, so definitely pray for sunny weather when you visit!

Things to do at Tullagh Bay Beach

Tullagh Strand

Photo courtesy Fionn Mc Cann via Ireland’s Content Pool

There’s a handful of things to do in and around Tullagh Bay if you fancy making a morning of it. Here’s a few suggestions for you:

1. Stroll along the sand

This is a vast beach and there’s loads of room for heading out for a morning saunter. The car park location means you’ll start towards the western side of the beach, so take your time strolling towards the western side and Binnion Hill. 

Don’t hesitate to kick off your shoes and go for a paddle either, especially when the water turns that crazy shade of turquoise (and you can pretend you’re in the Caribbean! Sort of…). 

If you’re here early enough you’ll be treated to a beautiful North Atlantic sunrise – getting out of bed will be well worth it!

2. Or explore on horseback

One of the more unique features of Tullagh Bay is the presence of horses – and plenty of them at that! 

Home to the Tullagh Bay Equestrian Centre in Clonmany, the beach is a lovely setting for learning how to ride a horse. 

All beginner riders are started on lead rein ponies or horses until they are confident and balanced, while more experienced riders can do jumping or flatwork lessons and more challenging ride-outs. 

They also run pony camps throughout the school holidays where children can enjoy activities like grooming, feeding and nutrition, horse & pony care and riding.

3. Or see it from above on the Binnion Hill walk

While Binnion Hill doesn’t compare in height to some of the other mountains in Donegal, the views from its summit are just as stunning. 

Reaching a height of 250 metres, the walk from the top is roughly around 6km though there are a few different routes you can choose from. 

From the summit, you’ll be able to see the Urris Hills to the south and Pollen Bay beach and the Isle of Doagh to the north. Looking east, you’ll be able to make out Slieve Snaght, Inishowen’s highest mountain at 615 metres.

And on a clear day you should even be able to catch a glimpse of the distant Scottish island of Islay! 

Places to visit near Tullagh Bay

One of the beauties of Tullagh Bay 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 Tullagh (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Glenevin Waterfall (5-minute drive)

Glenevin Waterfall donegal

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

One of a number of stunning spots in the area, the magical Glenevin Waterfall tumbles from 40ft high over sparkling black rocks. 

A handy 5-minute drive from Tullagh Bay, the soothing sound of the cascading mountain water is one of several reasons to head to this enchanting spot.

2. Pollan Strand (10-minute drive)

Ballyliffin Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

One of the most northerly beaches in Ireland but it’s also one of the most cinematic, Pollan Strand is a 2.5km beach with the historic Carrickabraghy Castle sitting on a rocky outcrop surrounded by beautiful scenery. Just 10 minutes from Tullagh Bay, it’s well worth a visit and the Pollan Bay Walk will definitely stretch your legs!

3. Mamore Gap (10-minute drive)

mamore gap donegal

Photos by Ondrej Prochazka/Shutterstock

Rising up to 800ft above sea level and giving off cracking vistas down towards Dunaff Head, the Mamore Gap is one of the most unique stretches of road in Ireland!

Park up near the holy shrine (yes, there’s also a holy shrine!) and take plenty of time to fully appreciate the epic views. 

4. Dunree Fort (20-minute drive)

dunree fort military museum

Photo left: Lukassek. Right: Lucky Team Studio/shutterstock

Initially built to guard against potential French invasion during the Napoleonic Wars, Fort Dunree is now a museum that houses a compelling display of military memorabilia and artifacts. 

Oh, and its location is absolutely belting! Perched on a rocky promontory overlooking Lough Swilly, the wild views are spectacular.

FAQs about visiting Tullagh Bay Beach

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Can you swim there?’ to ‘What’s the parking situation like?’.

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 Tullagh Bay Beach?

Although we’ve tried, we can’t find any information about whether or not it’s safe to swim here. Your best bet is to ask locally when you visit or to keep your feet on dry land.

Is Tullagh Bay worth visiting?

Yes! This is one of the more impressive beaches in Donegal and it’s a lovely spot for a long ramble, especially early in the morning when it’s nice and quiet.

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