Who would have thought I would be blogging about Dublin’s beaches, yet here we are in the middle of another lovely summer and our city’s coast is full of sunbathers and swimmers, kids splashing and building sandcastles, and strollers filling the promenades from Clontarf to Sutton and Sandymount to Dun Laoghaire.… it is amazing! Growing up in Howth I remember swimming off the rocks at Lion’s Head and Jameson’s, and even though our reputation for good summers is otherwise, in my memory it’s all blue skies and great swimming.
With this kind of good weather the city is packing picnics and filling the Darts with day trippers, so where are the best spots for young families? Well, my research criteria includes the following fundamentals: clean water, clean beach, not too crowded, services and ice-cream… and here is my low-down on Dublin’s popular beaches.
The first test is the easiest to narrow down – the cleanest of our city beaches are Skerries, Balcarrick (Donabate), Portrane, Portmarnock, Seapoint and Killiney; they proudly fly the blue flag so are safe to swim in. Seapoint in particular is a lovely spot for a swim, and perfect if you bring a picnic, if particularly busy in the afternoons. If it’s a stroll and a paddle you’re after then pop over to the other side of Dun Laoghaire, where my Grandad used to swim at the 40ft, there is a small ‘children’s beach’ there with shallow waters and of course, Teddy’s ice-cream nearby. Finding parking around there is a bit tricky however and it tends to get very crowded. Portmarnock is a fantastic beach too but was completely packed the day I went, and was left in a bit of a state by evening, which is a real shame. It’s manned by lifeguards though, as is Burrow Beach in Howth.
The Dollier (Dollymount Beach) lost its blue flag last year but is still a handy one for playing in the sand, walking along and of course kite surfing. No real facilities nearby though, except a very busy ice-cream van parked at the Wooden Bridge (beside Kanoodle and Kinara). Likewise Sandymount Strand.
The two beaches that in my book tick all boxes however, are north of the city – Skerries and Portrane. Perhaps because they are a little more awkward to get to, there are less Dart trippers there (and therefore less crowds of drinkers likely to cause trouble and/or a mess). Life guards, blue flags and clean beaches with nice cafes and restaurants nearby and safe paddling for children – who needs the Med, when you’ve got sunshine here?!