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Beaches off the beaten track in Ards and North Down

Collage of beach images, people walking dogs, doing handstands and enjoying time on the beach

Date: Friday 23 July 2021

In Ards and North Down, we've 115 miles of scenic coastline for you to explore, from the edge of Belfast Lough, on to the Ards Peninsula and Strangford Lough. Here you will find many beautiful and lesser-known beaches dotted along your journey.

Ballyhalbert Beach
Northern Ireland's most easterly point, Ballyhalbert village, dates back to the mid-17th century when its inhabitants were mainly fishermen. On a clear day, Scotland and the Isle of Man are visible from the village which looks out onto the Irish Sea and the North Channel. The village is home to a beautiful sandy beach, and water sports enthusiasts can enjoy Ballyhalbert’s harbour which has become a main attraction and centre for Jet Skis.

Ballyholme Beach
Located in the seaside town of Bangor, Ballyholme Beach is a mile-long crescent of sandy beach curving along the bay has been a favourite sea bathing spot for generations.Nowadays, it is used all year round by wet suited windsurfers who come from all over Northern Ireland to skim along its waves in the breeze. Children love to paddle here and build sand castles, it is the perfect place for a family day out with bucket and spade.

Ballywalter Beach
Ballywalter Beach is a long, sandy coastline that offers enjoyment for all, especially bathers and walkers. Along with its rock pools, ready for children to explore, there is also a small playground located nearby. At the Lime Kilns, a raised area provides great views of the Irish Sea coastline.

Cloughey Beach
Renowned for its magnificent expanse of sandy beach, Cloughey is a tranquil, picturesque village with a beautiful, sandy beach and unique flora and fauna. Traditionally a seaside getaway, the village will take you back to days gone by.

The village's sandy beach makes a superb spot to spend a sunny day; paddling, playing tennis and enjoying the playpark with the little ones. It is easily accessed by visitors of all ages and levels of mobility thanks to recently installed boardwalks, accessed at the northern and southern ends of the beach. Theis enables visitors to reach the shoreline without trampling the dunes or disturbing their rare and valuable plant life. A decked rest area provides the perfect vantage point to enjoy breathtaking views over the coast.

Groomsport Beach
The beautiful village of Groomsport, just ten minutes from Bangor, is best known for its picturesque harbour that was once a major fishing port, and its two fishermens cottages known as Cockle Row.

The village boasts beautifully landscaped picnic and play areas around the harbour, sandy beaches, quality pubs and restaurants.  It also has a recreation ground with two football pitches and a village hall situated in the historic boathouse at the harbour, dating back to 1884. A bus service links the village with Bangor, which is only a few miles away.

Millisle Beach Park
A rural beach situated off the Ballywalter Road on the coastal Ards Peninsula. Millisle Beach Park provides a sandy beach, play and picnic facilities, a jetty and two slip ways - perfect for a day at the seaside!

Knockinelder Beach, Portaferry 
From Kearney village, there are attractive walks to the beach at Knockinelder, and along the shore to Stinking Point. The paths lead through lichen-covered slaty rocks and coastal grassland studded with spring squill on the promontories. The small, sheltered bays are made up of shingle and saltmarsh, with the yellow horned poppy, an unusual plant of the area.

Take care of our shared spaces

Remember everyone has to play their part in keeping shared outdoor spaces safe and clean for everyone to enjoy.    

Here is a reminder about how you can stay on the #RightSideOfOutside.

  • Arrive early and park responsibly
  • Keep your dog under control and avoid areas where livestock are present
  • Bring all of your litter home with you
  • Bring your dog waste home with you
  • Know the risks associated with outdoor fires

Find out more at Walk NI

Find out more 

Ards and North Down is proud to have six award-winning beaches, five Green Flag Awards for parks and open spaces, as well as a world-class marina in Bangor.

Green Flag Award Parks include, Ballymenoch Park, Holywood, Castle Park and Linear Park in Bangor along with Londonderry Park and Kiltonga Nature Reserve in Newtownards.

Ballywalter, Cloughey, Groomsport , Millisle and Crawfordsburn beaches have all been awarded the prestigious Seaside Award and Helen's Bay has a Green Coast Award. Read more.

Looking for more places to visit, go to our Things to Do section

*When out and about please follow the latest NI Executive guidance, check the NI Direct website.