Top Five County Down Beaches

By ORLA MCGRADY 27 June, 2018

Living here brings many benefits not least being surround by magnificent coastland. Northern Ireland offers some of the top beaches in Europe and here we explore Orla McGrady’s Top five County Down beaches.

Tyrella Beach

Tyrella is a 1.5m stretch of golden sand near Downpatrick. Part of the managed conservation area that spans from Dundrum, a stunning dune grassland offers the perfect backdrop. It’s popular with surfers, swimmers, divers and snorkelers, attracted by the clean waters. This award-winning beach also holds a Blue-Flag status and has retained its green coast award since 2008.


Situated at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, Murlough Beach is a four-mile stretch of golden sand, with sweeping ocean views. The beach forms part of Murlough Nature Reserve, a 6000 year-old ecosystem rich in diverse wildlife, flora and fauna. Holding Blue-Flag status, the sand is immaculate and offers the perfect opportunity to walk boardwalk pathways through the dunes or along the coastline. Keep an eye out for the resident wild horses and abundance of rabbits inhabiting the dunes. My favourite access point is from Dundrum, Keel Point, where if you are lucky you will spot a large colony of seals basking on the far shore of Ballykinler, where they rest safely away from human contact.

Magic Murlough by Cormac McGrady.

Helen’s Bay

Approximately 10 miles east of Belfast is a golden stretch of beach situated within Crawfordsburn Country Park. Framed by tall mature trees, and looking across to Belfast Harbour, this is a hugely popular visitor destination due to its proximity to Belfast, and beautiful clear waters and diverse wildlife, such as seals and terns. Popular for a gentle stroll, run, dog-walking, picnic or bathing, this beach offers a picturesque nature escape from the bustle of city life.

Cranfield Beach

Situated along the southernmost tip of Co. Down between Kilkeel and Warrenpoint is Cranfield. This sandy beach is a designated area of special scientific interest and offers beautiful views of Carlingford Lough, with the Mourne Mountains providing a stunning backdrop. It’s hugely popular for a range of water sports, and with families for picnicking with a large children’s play area.

Ballywalter Beach

On the outer Ards Pensinsula is Ballywalter Beach, a 2.5m strand of coastline, stretching south of the village. It’s rural setting offers peaceful walks and a haven for wildlife, making this a popular spot for nature spotting and bird watching. Dotted with rock pools and rocky outcrops, families can enjoy exploring and discovering marine life. The beach is fully accessible with parking facilities nearby, and amenities in the local village.

Wherever you choose to go and whether you want to be in the water or near it, be sure to experience all that our beautiful coastline has to offer, especially in the longer summer evenings.

PHOTO CREDIT – Cormac McGrady.

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Orla McGrady

About Orla McGrady

Orla McGrady is from Co Down so as you can imagine, growing up in the hikers heaven has made Orla the keen walker she is today. Orla loves all things arts and crafts so if there's exhibitions, galleries, craft demonstrations or craft fayres, Orla is more than likely going to be there. Orla is passionate about life, having fun and spreading the word of what Northern Ireland has to offer. If you would like to collaborate with Live It Experience It please email