PHOTOS - Ireland's top seaside spots

Ireland is essentially a small island off mainland Europe and the Irish a bunch of islanders, and very proud of the fact. As such we have a strange affinity with the sea and are extremely proud of our beaches and breath-taking coastline.

Many who have grown up in Ireland would have spent their summer vacation as a child in a cottage down the beach in Clonakilty, County Cork or in a caravan in Bundoran, County Donegal.  I guarantee that these were magic holidays and they continue to be wonderful spots for a family getaway.

The wonderful thing about a seaside resort, Irish sea side resorts at least, is that you have the comfort and entertainment of easy access to lively towns while your family have the freedom to indulge in water sports, golf or just long walks along some of the most stunning beaches in the world.

Although you’ll most likely not be spending the days sunbathing by the beach (thank you Ireland’s weather!) in the villages you are sure that you’ll find the ‘craic agus ceol’ (fun and music) that Ireland is famous for in the form of lively bars with live traditional music. You’ll also have the chance to sample some of the local cuisine in some of Ireland’s most idyllic spots.

Enniscrone, County Sligo

This small seaside town is renowned for its long sandy beautiful beach. Located on the Atlantic Ocean it is quickly becoming one of the best spots for learning to surf in Ireland. The village is located just 7km from Ballina, County Mayo but there is plenty to do it Enniscrone itself whether it’s a walk on the beach, a round of golf of soaking in the seaweed baths.

Bundoran, County Donegal

Budoran is probably the best known holiday spot in the northwest now a haven for serious surfers and the mere fledglings among us this is a seriously fun and lively town during the summer season. Filled with great bars, restaurants, nightclubs and even fun fairs and a water park this is an excellent spot to entertain the family.

Lahinch, County Clare

Lahinch town sits above a one-mile stretch of spectacular golden beach that makes the town such a popular resort. The town has wonderful scenery, entertainment, sports and a good choice in accommodation.

Clonakilty, County Cork

Known by the locals as simply ‘Clon’, this town is bustling with life and is just 3km from the beach. The town is situated in the postcard perfect west Cork, is lively and welcoming and steeped in history. The hometown of Michael Colins and a town which suffered greatly during the Great Famine you are sure and interesting stay. Also west Cork is Ireland’s food capital and you are sure to eat very well.

PHOTOS - Ireland's top seaside spots

Tramore, County Waterford

Tramore is the south east’s top destination for holidaymakers and is jam packed with amenities for vacationers from top class accommodation to Splashworld, surfing, fishing, hiking, horse riding, golf and even an amusement park. Beside the wonderful surroundings and the great outdoors there’s a huge amount to do.

Strandhill, County Sligo

This beautiful town in the heart of Yeats country is officially a Mecca for surfers. Miles of untamed beach, beautiful rocky exposure. It is located just at the foot of Knocknarea, just kilometers from Sligo town and close to Sligo airport that connects with Dublin. Strandhill is also a great spot for golf, seaweed baths and has some great pubs and restaurants.

Clifden, County Galway

Located in the north west of County Galway in the heart of Connemara this small seaside town feels untouched, despite its popularity with tourists. The town is packed with its own entertainment but Clifden is also a great spot to use as a based when exploring the area. Some top things to check out include the Beach Road walk, Connemara National Park and Derrygimla Bog.

Cape Clear, County Cork

This spot is a bit different but definitely worth the extra effort. Cape Clear is an island, just a 45 minute boat trip from Schull in west Cork. It is Ireland’s most southern island and has a population of just 120. The island is 1.5 miles wide and 3 miles long. This is a natural paradise and actually has a slightly better climate than the rest of Ireland.

Dungarvan, County Waterford

Nestled beneath the Comeragh Mountains in Waterford is a thriving seaside market town, Dungarvan. The town over looks the beautiful Dungarvan Bay and is a wonderful spot to spend some time while exploring the beauty of the south east coast.

Curracloe, County Wexford

Although Wexford’s coastline is peppered with wonderful beaches Curracloe has a great reputation as a safe bathing spot. The area has been developed around the beach as a spot for visitors to enjoy. There are also great activities surrounding the beach such as horse rides along the beach, fishing and water sports. Just north of this beach is where the opening scenes for “Saving Private Ryan” were shot.

What other coastal spots have we left out?

PHOTOS - Ireland's top seaside spots