The ultimate guide to visiting Lahinch Beach in 2023

Lahinch has become one of Ireland’s most popular seaside towns thanks to it’s mile long sandy beach. The beach is located just south of the Cliffs of Moher and directly faces the wild Atlantic Ocean which has made it famous for surfing, sea kayaking and kite surfing.

How to get to Lahinch beach

You’ll find Lahinch beach just off the busy and vibrant main street of Lahinch (the N67) which also makes up part of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. Lahinch is a 15 minutes scenic drive south of the Cliffs of Moher which has added to it’s popularity with both tourists from abroad and home.

If you’re in Ennis (the main county town of County Clare), you’ll follow the N85 west for about 30 minutes until you hit the beautiful coastline.

Alternatively you might be driving south from Galway city to this stretch of coastline. This will be an hour and a half drive- a route that takes in the otherworldly views of the Burren. Make sure you avoid the M18 and take the R460 or N85 routes if you want to take in the views.

There are regular buses from Ennis and Galway city to Lahinch. Check the Bus Éireann website for up to date timetables.

Bens Surf Clinic, Lahinch

Parking & Facilities

Lahinch beach has a large pay and display car park run by Clare County Council. There is a maximum stay of 10 hours. Also bare in mind there is a 2m height restriction for most of the car park- if you’re traveling with a campervan or tall vehicle, you’ll have to use the parking spaces as you first enter the car park (before you get to the overhead height barrier).

The car park also offers plenty of disabled bays and the beach can be accessed via a slipway.

There are half a dozen bus/ long vehicle parking spaces on the left hand side as you enter the car park.

Just next to the car park is a modern and well maintained playground and toilet facilities (including accessible toilets). These facilities are open all year round from 10am and are usually closed by about 6:30pm.

Is it safe to swim at Lahinch beach?

What makes Lahinch beach so good for surfing can also make it a dangerous beach for wild swimming. The beach is one of the most exposed along Ireland’s west coast and feels the full force of Atlantic Ocean swells. Swimmers must be aware that currents can be particularly strong along this stretch of coastline. The advice is to always swim when lifeguards are on patrol (the summer months) and seek their advice before getting into the water.

If you’ve made the journey to Lahinch with your heart set on swimming- but the weather and conditions are unsafe… another option is the indoor swimming pool at Lahinch Leisure Centre. Open to the public all year round and located just the other side of the beachfront car park.

Is there wheelchair access at Lahinch beach?

Yes, Lahinch beach has been awarded a Blue Flag in part thanks to it’s accessibility. As well as there being designated disabled parking spaces in the car park, accessible toilet facilities and a slipway down to the beach there are also specially adapted beach chairs available to borrow free of charge.

Specially adapted beach “Hippocampe chairs” are available at Ben’s Surf School. The chairs with specially designed wheels are free of charge. Users will require a carer or personal assistance to operate them. To book please contact Ben’s Surf School on 086 844 8622. 

Are dogs allowed on Lahinch beach?

Yes and no, it depends what time of year and when. According to Clare County Council dogs are not allowed on the beach between 11am and 6pm during the summer season. Before 11am and after 6pm dogs are allowed but must be kept on a lead.

4 things to do near Lahinch beach

1. Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher are probably Ireland’s most recognisable natural landmarks. Towering 155m (509ft) above the wild Atlantic Ocean below it’s no wonder this is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Ireland.

One and a half MILLION people visit the breathtaking cliffs every year- which now includes a state of the art visitor centre. Be warned: the cliffs and view points directly adjacent to the visitor centre and car park can get very busy. But you don’t have to walk far along the well signposted cliff path to find a quiet spot to take in the far reaching coastal views.

Alternatively, you can avoid the crowds, car park and novelty souvenirs altogether by following the cliff path from Liscannor. There is a private car park run by a local resident near the village (charging €3 per car), just a short drive off the main coastal road and a 10 minute walk to Hag’s Head and the start of the Cliffs of Moher cliff walk. Click here for more info on the Liscannor Walk car park.

2. Surfing at Lahinch

Lahinch is spoilt for choice when it comes to surf schools, board and equipment hire. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a complete novice… Lahinch is well setup for anyone wanting to make the most of the waves here.

You’ll find surf schools and hire shops throughout Lahinch, down by the beach car park or up in the town. One of the most popular surf schools is Lahinch Surf School which has a hut along the car park and offers introductory lessons for all ages and capabilities.

IG: @lahinchsurfschool

3. Doolin Cave

Containing one of Europe’s biggest stalactites (at over 7m in length), Doolin Cave was first discovered in 1952 and opened to the public in 2006. Since then, this unique tourist attraction has grown in popularity with visitors to County Clare.

As part of the planning process to open the caves to the public, restrictions were put in place for visitor numbers and a ban on a visitor centre being built at the site. The tour itself is fully guided and takes about 40 to 50 minutes. Cave tours are operated throughout the year and tickets will set you back €17.50 for an adult and €8.50 for under 16s.

Click here for more info on the Doolin Cave and to book a tour.

4. Ennistymon Cascades

Just a short drive inland or a pleasant 50 minutes walk from Lahinch is the equally picturesque town of Ennistymon. The cascades here in the heart of the town are a magical natural feature that marks where the Cullenagh River becomes tidal before flowing out into the ocean, just north of Lahinch beach.

Once you’ve made the journey from Lahinch to Ennistymon and marvelled at the cascades… it’s worth taking a moment to explore the vibrant and colourful main street.

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