The stunning Whitepark Bay Beach in Antrim is one of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland.
It’s famous for its fossils, walks and wildlife and it’s a gorgeous place to stretch the legs if you’ve been driving the Causeway Coastal Route.
As well as flower-covered dunes and chalk cliffs, the 3-mile beach has rare “Singing Sands” that hum as you walk across them.
In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from why you can’t go swimming at Whitepark Bay to where to park nearby.
Some quick need-to-knows about Whitepark Bay Beach
Although a visit to Whitepark Bay Beach is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Located in Ballintoy, on the north Antrim coast, Whitepark Bay is 6.5 miles east of the Old Bushmills Distillery and 10 minutes’ drive from the Giant’s Causeway. If you’re driving from Belfast, it takes about 75 minutes.
Once you reach Whitepark Bay Beach, there’s a free car park. However, spaces are limited. You need to arrive early on a sunny day to be sure of getting one of the coveted spaces. Once the car park is full, other vehicles will be turned away. There’s a short staircase and path leading down to the sand.
3. No swimming
The crescent shaped beach and gentle waves looks very appealing on a warm day. However, the beach is unsafe for swimming due to treacherous rip currents. Don’t be tempted to do anything more than wet your toes!
About Whitepark Bay
Located on the Causeway Coastal Route, White Park Bay (aka Whitepark Bay) lives up to its name with light sand edging the crescent shaped bay. It is book-ended by two headlands, including the massive Elephant Rock at the extreme eastern end of the beach.
It’s a secluded and peaceful spot, especially as parking is limited which restricts the number of visitors. The derelict building was once an old schoolhouse.
The beach is backed by dunes that are covered in wild flowers in summer and is an Area of Scientific Interest with many fossils. It’s a wildlife haven and you may spot rare butterflies, orchids, birds, otters and sea life. The beach is also frequented by other more domestic animals – a herd of cows!
This ancient landscape has been inhabited for millennia. The chalk cliff hides several passage tombs, including one dating back to 3000BC! Facing the sea, it was probably considered a sacred spot charged with earth energy.
The most unusual thing about Whitepark Bay are the Singing Sands. As you walk, the dry sand particles rub together making a humming noise. It’s a remarkable experience only found in about 30 places worldwide.
Things to do at Whitepark Bay Beach
There’s plenty to see and do in and around Whitepark Bay Beach, from the viewpoint to the walk and much more.
1. Soak up the scenery from the viewpoint
Whitepark Bay Beach is frequently the subject of local artworks as it is truly breathtaking. Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the best view is from the lay-by on the clifftop above the beach.
The curving light-coloured sand is backed with white chalk cliffs and topped by lush green pastures in either direction. Many people drive down at sunset as it is one of the great spectacles of this coastline.
Turn around to face inland and you’ll see an ancient cairn or stone hut. It is a passage grave, situated here to perfectly capture the sun’s rays on the Midsummer Solstice.
2. Head off on the walk
Once you’ve had your fill of the view, the clifftop walk beckons. The out-and-back walk is 1.4 miles each way. Descend the steps from the car park/ viewpoint and follow the winding lane past the derelict Youth Hostel and 18th century “hedge school” building nearby.
Continue to the beach, then turn right and walk east along the sand for about a mile. You’ll be accompanied by rolling Atlantic waves and seabirds.
At the headland, turn and retrace your steps or continue to Ballintoy Harbour (an extra mile) which is only walkable at low tide.
3. Watch out for the cows… yes, cows!
Cattle frequently roam across the sand, making an incongruous sight. In fact, they are said to be the most photographed cows in Northern Ireland!
Farmers are allowed to let their cattle roam and graze on the dunes as part of a nature conservation management agreement that helps keep the grass short.
This beautiful area is also rich in flora and fauna including rare orchids. Along with grazing farm animals and wild rabbits, look out for gannets and terns diving in the waves. The little wading birds that nest in the nearby dunes are ringed plovers.
What to see near Whitepark Beach
One of the beauties of Whitepark Bay is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best things to do in Antrim.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Whitepark Beach (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Ballintoy Harbour
At the eastern end of Whitepark Bay there’s a trail over the headland leading to Ballintoy Harbour, about a mile away. It’s a good place for walkers to enjoy a rest stop with a quaint tea room and toilets. The tiny harbour is very photogenic and is often used as a film location due to its amazing coastal scenery.
2. Dunseverick Castle
There’s not a lot left to see of Dunseverick Castle, built in the 5th century and visited by St Patrick. A few standing stones mark the clifftop gatehouse – all that remains of this Scheduled Historic Monument at the west end of White Park Bay. The castle was sacked by Cromwell’s troops in 1642. The castle and peninsula were given to the National Trust by Jack McCurdy in 1962.
For a walk with an extra thrill for daredevils, the Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge dates back to 1755. Originally built by salmon fishermen, this precarious slatted rope bridge is 20 metres above the waves and is the only way to reach Carrick Island on foot.
4. Food in Ballycastle
Ballycastle is the best place to head for to find food, pubs and refreshments (see our Ballycastle restaurants guide). Ann Street has several eateries including the Central Wine Bar. Head for a stroll on Ballycastle Beach when you’re done!
FAQs about visiting Whitepark Bay in Northern Ireland
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from are dogs allowed on Whitepark Bay to what to do 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 Whitepark Bay?
The beach is unsafe for swimming due to treacherous rip currents. Don’t be tempted to do anything more than dip your toes in!
Can you park on White Park Bay Beach?
No. You can park in the car park next to it though. Just keep in mind that it fills up quickly on fine days.