If you love to be near the sea and enjoy the various benefits that come attached to a fantastic beach, Ballybunion has it all. Ballybunion beach is not 1 beach but boasts 3 fantastic beaches (Ladies Beach, Men’s Beach, and The Long Strand).
It is a coastal town located in the north of Kerry. It has, over the years, become a famous seaside resort. Located on the Wild Atlantic Way it is around 15 km from Listowel and 30 km from Tralee, the capital of Kerry. This beach resort attracts scores of tourists from across Ireland and beyond during the summer.
It is a small town with a population of around 1,900. The mainstay of this sleepy town, without a doubt, is tourism.
It has two main beaches and these two beaches are divided by the famous Castle Green. These beaches are locally known as Ladies Beach (to the right) and Men’s Beach (to the left).
The beaches have been named because in the past only the respective genders were allowed to use the beaches. This had seemingly been done on the orders of the local parish priest.
The beaches do not end here. To the left of the men’s beach, you also have the Long Strand. This is a gorgeous 3 km of sand and is overlooked by the majestic Ballybunion Golf Club.
Ladies Beach is officially known as Ballybunion North Beach and is a majestic beach because of a number of reasons. It is flanked by wonderful caves and the famous Castle Green overlooks the entire Ladies Beach.
It is surrounded by some great-looking rocky headlands and high cliffs. You can see the caves during low tide but I highly recommend you do not explore them.
Furthermore, you also have beautiful sand dunes and the ever famous castle. These are located near the town of Ballybunion. You can access the Ladies Beach through a steep road. As mentioned above, the men’s and women’s beaches are divided by the cliff on which the ruined castle stands.
Men’s Beach is officially known as Ballybunion South Beach and could be considered as a perfect place to be in for those who love swimming, walking, surfing, and various types of water sports. When the tide is low, you can easily walk over to Ladies Beach.
In the other direction, you have the Long Strand (the third beach) which is nearly 3 km long. A further short walk will also take you to the famous Cashen River.
The Long Strand & The 1932 Olympics
The year 1928 was monumental for Ireland. Dr. Pat O’Callaghan was the first Irish athlete to bring home an Olympic gold medal. The next Olympics held in 1932 in Los Angeles saw Ireland gain two gold medals.
The Long Strand has a history with the 1932 Olympics. The Irish team for the games, comprising eight athletes, trained on the Long Strand and the Old Golf Course now the 5th Fairway for a fortnight before departing. Of the eight athletes, Dr. Pat O’Callaghan bagged a gold medal for the second time in a row for the Hammer Throw event.
Bob Tisdall won a gold medal in the 400 meters hurdles event. Eamon Fitzgerald was touted as a strong candidate, but he sustained an injury while traveling, which lost him a shot at the medals.
Located around 15 km from the town of Listowel, Ballybunion Castle is considered to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in Kerry. It is believed that the castle was constructed at an elevated point above the cliffs by the Geraldines in the 13th century.
The cliffs are gorgeous and not for the weak-hearted. Therefore, you can experience some of the most majestic and breathtaking views of the shores from both ends of the cliffs.
The castle seemingly has withstood many tough battles and some of the harshest weather conditions. It was struck by lightning a few years ago damaging the structure further. Following this, a lightning conductor was fitted to give extra protection from electrical storms.
However, it still continues to maintain the elegance and historical importance and a charm that cannot simply be erased or destroyed.
In the summertime, Kerry County Council provides a beach wheelchair. It is free to use for a maximum of 3 hours but you have to book it in advance. You must have a current photo ID and ring Kerry County Council at 066 7162000 to organize delivery. Try and book it when the tide is going out so you can go around the Castle Green to the Men’s beach.
Unfortunately, there are only steps going down to the Men’s Beach. There is no ramp so it can only be reached by a wheelchair from Ladies Beach when the tide is half out. I will leave a link to the Ballybunion tidal times here. You will be able to get on The Long Strand easily from the Men’s Beach. Be careful because I think when the tide is fully in The Long Strand is cut off from the Men’s Beach.
Ballybunion Seaweed Baths
They are located at Ladies Beach beside the shop. They are certainly well worth a try and you should not miss them under any circumstance when you are visiting Ballybunion. The cost is €25 for half an hour.
Ballybunion Cliff Walk
The cliffs have a walkway path that is both serene and beautiful. They have a majestic view of the sea stacks and you can experience a wide variety of wildlife for which there are signs along the way. You can also see the County of Clare and the water tower in Ratoo, Ballyduff. The whole path can be covered in around 15 to 20 minutes.
Whilst on the walk you can look down onto the gorgeous Nuns Beach and the blowhole known as the Nine Daughters Hole. However, there is no access to this beautiful beach. There is an old convent on Convent Walk but the nuns left there in 1988.
Most people walk clockwise around this trail. The trail begins halfway down to Ladies Beach. There are steps on the right-hand-side up to the start.
One thing to be aware of, if you have children keep them close because there is no railing at the start. There are benches located all around the Cliff Walk so you can sit down and admire the scenic view out to sea.
People in wheelchairs can also use the magnificent trail. You will have to go anti-clockwise on the trail and it might be a bit rough. You can enter the trail at Doon Bay Road. You won’t be disappointed.
According to many tourists, Nuns Beach is perhaps the most spectacular beach in North Kerry. This is both in terms of beauty, and the location. It must have taken thousands of years for this beach to form.
It is carved over time by the rough Atlantic Waves and this perhaps resulted in the formation of a cove that resembles a horse-shoe. It is a highly secluded beach and it lies to the north of Ballybunion Castle.
It is located near an old convent and believed that the nuns used this beach as a private bathing area. They had a trail going down to the beach but it has been washed away by the Atlantic weather.
You could also use boats to reach Nuns Beach, but the sea can be rough at times. It is easy to see how people can get stranded on this beach and often the Coast Guard has to be called out to rescue them.
Nine Daughter’s Hole
Legend has it that a local Monarch (O’Connor) had nine daughters. When the Vikings came to raid Ballybunion, the nine daughters fell in love with them being the gorgeous handsome blonde-haired men they were.
The Monarch did not like this and he led his daughters to the hole and threw them in thus giving it the name “Nine Daughter’s Hole”. The cliff walk comes quite close to the Nine Daughter’s Hole but it is fenced off by the walkway.
Where to Stay, Eat, and Drink
Visitors have plenty of options when it comes to accommodation at Ballybunion. Marine Restaurant & Boutique Hotel is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a property with beach access and fantastic food.
Kilcooly’s Country House Hotel is another great option; it’s a five-minute walk from the beach with great food. Its traditional Irish nights on Saturdays are a hit among guests.
McMunns of Ballybunion is a great property for couples; it’s adults only and only 100 meters from the beach. Airbnb also has some great affordable options, so don’t forget to check them out, especially if you’re on a budget.
In terms of food, we recommend Strollers Bistro (for excellent service and a wide selection), The Marine Ballybunion (for their out-of-this-world seafood chowder), and Namir’s Restaurant & Wine Bar (for flavorsome curries and more). If you’re looking to grab a drink, McMunns Bar and Olde Attic Bar & Guesthouse are worth a try.
Ballybunion Golf Course
Ballybunion Golf Club is an important tourist attraction located on the outskirts of Ballybunion Town. The golf club was founded in 1893, it consists of 2 golf courses – The Cashen Course and the Old Course.
The club could not open its doors for many years because of financial issues. However, in 1906 the golf club was saved from closure by Colonel Bartholomew. He took a personal interest to see that nine holes were laid out and thus began the journey of the famous Ballybunion Golf Club.
To date, it is considered to be one of the best link courses in the world. Its reputation has grown over time. It has earned fame because Bill Clinton, the American President played in this course in September 1998 and 2001. There is a statue of Bill Clinton holding a golf club outside the Garda Station to commemorate his trip to the town in 1998.
It has stood the test of time and has been ranked one of the most promising and best golf courses not only in Ireland but also across the world. In 2015 it was voted by Golfing Magazine as the number 1 golf course in Ireland.
In 2020, Golfdigest.com rated the Ballybunion Golf Course as the ninth-best golf course when a list of the world’s top 100 golf courses was compiled.
Ballybunion Crazy Golf and Checker’s Café & Wine Bar
Ballybunion Crazy Golf is one of the main entertainment options available in Ballybunion. Located on the premises of Ballybunion Golf Holiday Homes, the 18-hole miniature golf course is open around the week during June – August and on the weekends during the rest of the year. Miniatures of local landmarks are placed around the course; each hole is linked to a name in history.
Ballybunion beach can get crowded at times, and the golf course can give you a quiet yet entertaining alternative. At €4 an adult and €12 per family, I think it’s a great deal. While you’re there, you can check out the fantastic selection at Checker’s Café & Wine Bar.
Besides golf, visitors can enjoy table tennis or a game of draughts (on a giant board). I recommend a visit here if you’re planning a trip to Ballybunion. Go there for the friendly atmosphere, great food and entertainment options, and top-notch service and hospitality.
There are dozens of fishing enthusiasts who come from faraway places just to enjoy some great fishing on the shores of Ballybunion Beach.
The south end of the Long Strand is famous for some of the greatest surf fishing and you will certainly have a great time fishing here. Surf fishing for Sea Bass but you must know the exact timing and season. You should try and be at the extreme mouth of the Cashen estuary for getting the best catches.
You should choose a flooding tide for the best results. Experts suggest that you must also use lugworm as the best bait. The Cashen River is tidal at the mouth of the estuary. You can dig for lugworms here at low tide.
You could also try the Long Strand for some great Flounder Fishing. When it comes to flounder-fishing, you should make use of crab bait for getting the best results.
Ballybunion Health & Leisure Centre: A Treat for Locals and Tourists Alike
With a heated pool, jacuzzi, gym, sauna, and more, Ballybunion Health & Leisure Centre is a great option if you’re fitness-conscious or want to enjoy a range of amenities. The facilities are clean, and the staff is friendly.
Also, most of the areas within the premises are wheelchair accessible. You can opt for one-month, two-month, and three-month memberships or pay per day. Beware though, some consider the latter a tad expensive. The standard rate is €18 per visit, but guests of those boarding at Ballybunion B&B pay €9 a visit.
Marconi Wireless Station: The Century-Old Landmark
Ballybunion’s Marconi telegraphic station made waves more than a century ago with the first Marconi telephonic broadcast in March 1919. The Ballybunion station transmitted “Hello Canada, Hello Canada” across the Atlantic to Nova Scotia.
The station’s lifespan was limited; it closed down with the Irish Civil War in 1922-1923. While nothing remains of the original structure, a commemorative stone marks the site’s location.
MOYA Ballybunion Festival
Moya Festival is going virtual went 2020 because of Covid. Here is the link.
MOYA is the acronym for Meditation, Ocean, Yoga, and Art and if possible you should try and be a part of the famous MOYA festival when you are visiting Ballybunion. It is usually celebrated during the first weekend in May & October from Friday to Monday. During the festival, you will be able to combine pleasure with some great health-related activities.
The famous MOYA wellness festival will entitle you to take part in yoga classes and being a part of the guided walks along the famous Bromore Cliffs.
You also will be given some cooking demonstrations, and also powerful guided meditations. It is considered to be one of the best retreats for wellness with the majestic sea and other scenic beauty beckoning you.
How to get to Ballybunion Beach from Tralee.
From Tralee, the quickest route is by taking the R556 to Abbeydorney which is 8.5 km away. Continue on route R556 for 10 km until you reach R551. Turn right and the next village you come to is Ballyduff which is 2.3 km away. Go straight through that village traveling on R551 for 8.3 km until you reach R553. Turn left and Ballybunion is just 1 km away.
How to get to Ballybunion Beach from Listowel.
It is far easier to get to Ballybunion from Listowel. Take the route R553 from Listowel to Lisselton which is 7.6 km away. Go straight through Lisselton and Ballybunion is just 6.8 km down the road.
How is parking at Ballybunion Beach?
I can see only one negative about going to Ballybunion Beach and that is the parking. There is a car park at the Men’s Beach. But on a hot day, the car park can’t cope with all the visitors. That is how beautiful the beaches are. It is €3 to park here all day.
There is another car park up by the children’s playground. This car park is between the Men’s and Ladies Beaches. People do not want to park here if at all possible because you have to pay per hour.
Now you can park going down to the Ladies beach but I wouldn’t recommend it. People park at the two sides of the small road so if you meet another car traveling in the opposite direction one of you has to reverse up or down the steep hill.
Ballybunion beach is a spectacular location that offers something for everyone. Not only is it picturesque with pristine blue waters and clean white sands, but it is also extremely convenient.
With 3 carparks, a playground, public toilets, and several dining options, Ballybunion beach offers a great day-long excursion involving swimming, surfing, sunbathing, kite flying, and so much more. If you’re in the vicinity and looking for a view that will stay with you forever, look no further.