7 Beach Towns In Northern Ireland You Should Check Out This Summer

Pic: Tourism NI

With summer fast approaching and staycations becoming increasingly popular, it’s important to know just what Northern Ireland has to offer.

From well-known spots to the hidden gems, we’ve compiled a list full of must see beach towns that lie along our coastline.

  1. Carnlough, Co. Antrim

Found a mere mile past Glenarm is Carnlough village, home to Carnlough Bay.  

Although a small harbour, its sheltered and quiet nature makes it the perfect spot for a bit of peaceful fishing. Just under a mile in length, there is roadside car parking available, public toilets directly across from the beach and even a children’s play park for the wee ones. Thankfully, Carnlough Bay is dog friendly making it an ideal spot for the whole family.

A stoney staircase leading down to sea has dubbed Carnlough Harbour a must see spot for Game of Thrones fans. Featured in Season 6, the fan recognised staircase was filmed as a part of the Free City of Braavos Canal.

Carnlough Harbour, pic by Brian Morrison © Tourism Ireland

  1. Brown’s Bay, Islandmagee, Co. Antrim

Located between Larne and Whitehead is Islandmagee, a peninsula and civil parish that maintains a long history.

A great family-friendly destination, Islandmagee is perfect for a relaxing afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life or for a quick escape to stunning panoramic views. Although mostly recognised for its award-winning ice cream shop, The Rinkha, there remains a long list of activities to do in this beach town despite its rural nature.

  • Kilcoan Gardens
  • Skarnaghan Point
  • Ferris Bay
  • Brown’s Bay
  • Portmuck Harbour
  • The Gobbins cliff walk
  • Blackhead Path
  • The Lord 

Brown’s Bay and Portmuck Harbour in particular are known as idealistic swimming locations. So why not don your swimsuit or wetsuit and get in for more than a paddle (just make sure to have plenty to wrap up in after).

Brown’s Bay, Pic: Discover NI

  1. Portrush

From its sandy beaches, charming shops, arcades and neverending list of restaurants and pubs, Portrush has become infamous for a reason.

For those of you who were saddened by the closure of Barry’s Amusements, fear not as it has reopened under the name Curry’s Fun Park. Suitable for wee kids, and big kids, there’s the well-loved attractions such as the Helter Skelter, the Ghost Train and the Big Dipper, as well as new additions to the scene: Cornelius Gooch’s Sizzler, Crazy Frog and Crow’s Beast, to name a few.

That’s not all, as Portrush is home to Whiterocks Beach, the East Strand Beach and the West Strand Beach.  A Blue Flag beach, Whiterocks is contiguous with East Strand, forming a 3 mile beach overall.  Dog friendly and no stranger to barbecues and picnics, why not add to your day by taking surfing lessons?

The idealistic location of Portrush means that there is an endless list of activities to be done! With the Royal Portrush Golf Club, Dunluce Castle, the Giant’s Causeway and Portstewart being only a stone’s throw away from the beach promenade, there really is no wondering as to why it makes the summer bucket list each year.

Portrush East Strand Beach, Pic: Tourism NI

  1. Ballycastle

Ballycastle is on the north-easternmost coastal tip of the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty locations, and a quick visit will show you why.

With Ballycastle Marina being Blue Flag Awarded, the town itself is the perfect base for day trips into Coleraine, the Giant’s Causeway and even a trip to Watertop Farm. There are plenty of sights to see in and around Ballycastle, including:

  • Ballycastle Beach
  • Murlough Bay and Fair Head
  • Torr Head
  • The Puffin Gallery
  • Bonamargie Friary
  • Larrybane Quarry (ideal for Game of Thrones fans)
  • Ferry to Rathlin Island

Ballycastle. Pic: Discover NI

  1. Warrenpoint

Warrenpoint can be found at the head of Carlingford Lough, overlooked by none other than the Mourne and Cooley Mountains.  Warrenpoint’s picturesque views are actually the inspiration behind C.S Lewis’ Narnia!

Nicknamed ‘The Point’ by locals, Warrenpoint is host to the Maiden of Mourne festival and the Blues on the Bay music festival, as well as offering short ferry rides to the village of Omeath in County Louth, Narrow Water Castle and the Ross Monument in Rostrevor.

Take a trip to the neighbouring village Rostrevor by boat or by car and visit the Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trails. As both Warrenpoint and Rostrevor are situated along Carlingford Lough, you’ll often see people kayaking, canoeing or even banana boating.

Warrenpoint. Pic: Discover NI

  1. Holywood

Named as the best place to live in Northern Ireland in 2021, Holywood is a beach town you should definitely add to your list of places to visit.

Known in particular for its beach – Seapark Holywood -, the scenic coastal walk can take you all the way to Bangor. An ideal spot for a picnic, paddling and a bit of sunbathing on a sunny day, Seapark Holywood also has a play park for the children and a large car park that is host to an ice-cream van or two – endless entertainment.

Holywood. Pic: Tourism NI

  1. Millisle

Located on the Ards Peninsula, Millisle quickly became a must on the list of places to visit between various COVID-19 lockdowns thanks to Millview Farm.

Starting out as an experiment, Millview Farm brought out a vending system for locals to purchase fresh whole and skimmed milk straight from the farm and even have a little area to the side for children to watch the calves.

When you’re not drinking milk, why not have a dander along Millisle Beach Park? Or pay a visit to Eden Pottery, where you can decorate your own piece of pottery in their Paint Your Own studio?

Millisle. Pic: Discover NI

For more places to visit go to discovernorthernireland.com