Beach Recreation & Swimming
For beach recreation and swimming there are many wonderful and accessible sandy beaches and varied coastline in our area.
They provide special places for both local communities and the visitor alike in the enjoyment of a variety of activities on beautiful shores in spectacular locations . An obvious and common recreation is simply walking and excercising. All of the beaches offer a place to relax and enjoy the health benefits of being outdoors in great spaces. Rock pooling, sand castle building, mandala making, flying a kite, beach games, fishing, sun and sea bathing are all for the taking across a variety of beach locations .
From north to south within County Down the favoured beaches are Helens Bay, Crawfordsburn, Ballyholme, Groomsport, Millisle, Ballywalter, Ballyhalbert, Portavogie, Cloughey, Knockinelder, Benderg, Rossglass, Tyrella, Murlough, Newcaste, Nicholson’s Strand, Cranfield, Warrenpoint.
The Guide to GB/Northern Ireland beaches gives a summary of facilities at each location and can be found at:
Opportunities for “wild swimming” can be had almost anywhere, care and caution should be given to coastline where sea state and or local currents would make open water swimming more challenging.. An example of this would be anywhere in the “Narrows” of Strangford Lough, on the “bar” at Ballykinler where the channel neets the ope sea of Dundrum Bay.
The variety and distribution of beaches in the area offers the visitor much scope in any prefered activity of choice. All sit between inspiring land and sea-scapes, some offering views that will simply inspire and “take the breath away. “ The beaches of North Down provide the convenience of being proximate to large urban settlement of Belfast-Bangor-Ards. At the other extreme the remote and relatively isolated beaches of Knockinelder, Benderg Rossglass and Murlough will allow a greater sense of escape. At Murlough and Newcastle experience “where mountains fall in to the sea “ the vista across Dundrum Bay is outstanding .
For the classic sandy beach with a backdrop of sand-hills the choice has to be Tyrella and Murlough; here there is an almost magical, secret world sometimes like a desert where hills have been stripped bare and mobile sands are shifting. The beaches of Lecale and the outer Ards coast seem to face a wild ocean and beckon far distant shores; on clear days as if easily reached the coasts and hills of the Isle of Man, the Mull of Galloway can be seen.
Bathing Water Quality
Northern Ireland’s bathing season begins on 1 June and ends on 15 September each year. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is responsible for monitoring and making sure that coastal waters are of high enough quality to bathe in.
Bathing water at 26 sites across Northern Ireland is monitored weekly from May to September and classified into one of four categories:
– temporary advice issued against bathing
Bathing Water beaches in Strangford and Lecale at which the water quality is monitored by DAERA are:
Ballyhornan, Kilclief, Tyrella