One of Europe’s Most Beautiful Beaches with Golden Sands and Crystal Clear Waters That Steal Your Breath Away
Located in the natural harbor of Derrynane Bay, Derrynane Beach is a stunning sight with soft golden sand and crystal clear water set amid a beautiful backdrop of hidden coves and rocky scenery. It is along the Ring of Kerry and featured as one of the top 25 beaches in Europe by Tripadvisor’s Travellers Choice Awards.
Where is it Safe to Swim?
Derrynane Bay is a part of a Natural Heritage Area in County Kerry, Ireland. The area is, naturally, of significant importance with rich biodiversity. What makes Derrynane Beach truly spectacular is the calm waters, which make it ideal for water sports.
It is a Blue Flag Beach and manned by lifeguards during the summer. Beware though, the currents can get lethal, and since this is Ireland, the weather can change any minute.
Check with the lifeguard (you can see his cabin near the car park) to ensure that stretches are safe to swim, as some have rocks. There are rip currents on the other side of the rock pools. You shouldn’t go swimming there.
There are also warning signs indicating which stretches should be avoided. That said, it is an excellent place for a stroll, especially as a couple – it doesn’t get any more romantic. Family outings and picnics are some other fun options.
Take in the Beauty
When the tide is low, you can walk to Derrynane Abbey to check out some ruins. Daniel O’Connell’s wife is buried there but he isn’t. He is buried in Glasnevin, County Dublin.
Or you can climb amongst the rocks to check out rock pools that often feature jellyfish, crabs, eels, and fish.
The beach is also dog-friendly, so you may see some furry four-legged friends enjoying the day. It is indeed quite picturesque and postcard-worthy. If you visit on a clear night, you will be rewarded with starry skies that take your breath away. Derrynane Beach and Abbey are one of the International Dark Sky Reserves.
A Short Walk to Derrynane House
Derrynane House — once the home of Irish politician Daniel O’Connell – is a national monument and museum and part of a national historic park. You can stop by on your way back from Derrynane Beach.
The museum itself is self-guided and offers great views of the beach and the beautiful gardens around. See my web page on Derrynane House here for lovely photos inside the museum.
What to Do in Derrynane Beach?
The crystal clear waters offer a great opportunity for snorkeling, so don’t forget to bring your gear if that interests you. In terms of water sports, look no further than Derrynane Sea Sports.
They offer a range of equipment (and instruction, if required), including sailing, water skiing, snorkeling, canoeing, kayaking, at super affordable rates (especially if you’re looking to hire). You can hire a kayak for only €12 or a surfboard for €10 and €12, respectively (don’t forget to carry cash).
You can’t pitch a tent on Derrynane Beach. You can drive down to the car park (beware of the height restriction that is in place to prevent the entry of camper vans). There are also several caravan sites nearby, but not on the beach; I recommend Wave Crest Caravan and Camping Park.
There is an ogham stone just after you turn off the Ring of Kerry route on the left-hand side. It is out in the middle of a field and has stood the test of time even though it was subjected to the wild Atlantic weather.
Facilities and Other Considerations
There are toilets on Derrynane Beach open in the summertime. After that, you might be able to use the facilities at Derrynane House, which is only a 5-minute walk.
The Tea Rooms in Derrynane House are a great place for homemade delicacies at reasonable prices. I recommend the cakes (pear and almond crumble; carrot and walnut), scones, and soup (sweet potato and carrot; tomato) here. You can also expect free Wi-Fi, great service, gluten-free and vegan options, and outside seating with a gorgeous view.
Hop into Bridies pub for a quick pint. The quirky outdoor bar offers friendly and good service if you’re looking for a good time. The food here is delicious and the cocktails equally brilliant, but be prepared for long wait times on busy days. Some may even find it a wee bit expensive for drinks. Please don’t drink and drive. Have a designated driver.
Enjoy some delightful fresh seafood with brilliant views of the Atlantic Ocean at the Boat House Restaurant & Bar at the newly refurbished Derrynane Hotel & Cottages. The restaurant prides itself on using only local produce to offer mouth-watering, home-style recipes; even herbs are cut fresh from the chef’s garden outside the kitchen every morning.
The parking is (free) but is very small for the crowds the beach attracts on busy days. A smart move would be to come early in the day and avoid any hassle.
It’s usually pretty alright till noon, after which the parking gets full, and many abandon their vehicles haphazardly to enjoy the beach. Apart from the busy days in summers, the beach is actually quite secluded.
How to Reach Derrynane Beach from Killarney?
You can drive down from Killarney to Derrynane via the Ring of Kerry. It’s about 70 km, and it can take you about an hour and a half. Go out the Muckross Road passed Killarney National Park (see my web page here) up to Moll’s Gap.
Go straight on for Sneem. Do not turn off for Kenmare. Once you enter Sneem turn right. You are back on the Ring of Kerry (see my web page & photos here). The next village is Castlecove with its beautiful White Strand. Unfortunately, it hasn’t got any lifeguards. The next stop is Caherdaniel where Derrynane Beach is.
Many who have traveled far and wide agree that Derrynane Beach is one of the most picturesque beaches you will ever lay eyes on. Its scenic beauty is well worth the trip out of your way. Overall, I most definitely recommend you stop by, especially if you’re already on the Ring of Kerry.
Ensure you reach well before noon and carry a wetsuit and supplies for a picnic if you fancy one on this mile-long stretch of heaven. And don’t forget to carry sufficient cash for water sports and other minor expenses that a card may not cover.
If you’re on a road trip, Derrynane Beach is a bucket-list-worthy of a stop, and unless you’re pressed for time, I suggest you carve out more than half a day for this. That way you can laze around and enjoy the beauty around, as well as get a little time to stroll around and explore.