BLUE FLAG BEACHES
Bertra Blue Flag beach
Near the foot of Croagh Patrick, 12 km (7 miles) west of Westport on the Louisburgh Road (R335), Bertra beach is one of the best beaches in Ireland for walking and bird-watching, as well as kite-surfing and windsurfing. Walk along the wide strand, on a mixture of sandy or occasionally rocky stretches, or along the sometimes narrow paths in the dunes. This Blue Flag beach has a lifeguard in the summer months, and there are toilets. The northeastern point of the beach, farthest away from the carpark, is a popular spot for shore-angling.
Old Head Blue Flag beach
For a picturesque beach, Ireland offers very few to beat Old Head, 16 km (10 miles) west of Westport on the Louisburgh Road (R335). Overlooked by a woodland to the west and Croagh Patrick to the south and east, this Blue Flag beach has beautiful rock-pools that are exposed when the tide is out. The beach is sheltered from the south and west and is therefore well-suited for swimming. Lifeguards are on duty through the summer months, the beach is accessible for wheelchairs, as are the toilets. There is a pier at the western end of the beach, sheltering a small anchorage popular with local sailors and fishermen.
Carrowmore Blue Flag beach
1.5 km (under 1 mile) from Louisburgh, 25 km (16 miles) west of Westport, lies Carrowmore beach, overlooked by cliffs where various seabirds nest. There are lifeguards in the summer, as well as toilets, though there are no ramps or other facilities for disabled people. There is a pier at the west end of this Blue Flag beach, while the eastern border is the mouth of the Bunowen River.
Clare Island Blue Flag beach
A short ferry ride from Roonagh Pier, 10 km from Louisburgh, leads to Clare Island, where the sandy blue flag beach lies adjacent to the pier. While there is no lifeguard, there is life-saving equipment available, so the beach is suitable for swimming.
Carrowniskey Green Coast beach
Carrowniskey, noted for its surf and considered one of the best beaches in Mayo for learning to surf, lies about 29 km (18 miles) west of Westport and 7.5 km (4.7 miles) west and south of Louisburgh. The beach is wide and sandy at low tide; at high tide, the water reaches the rocks. There is a surfing school that offers lessons and rents surfboards and wetsuits. There are lifeguards in the summer. Unusually for beaches in Mayo, foot protection in the water is advised, because of weaver fish.
Mulranny Blue Flag beach
Across the road from the Park Inn, on the west end of Mulranny village, a causeway and wooden bridge across Trawoughter Bay lead to Mulranny beach, which has picnic facilities and toilets, as well as a lifeguard during the summer months.
Inland from the beach is a rare large saltwater marsh, with typical species such as thrift, sea plaintain, saltmarsh grass, rushes and sedges, sea pimpernel with glassword and annual seablite further down towards the sea. The marsh also features various shorebirds, including curlew, widgeon, grey plover, godwits, oyster-catchers, dunlins, sand pipers, terns and gulls.
There is also a small carpark at the beach. To reach the carpark, take the first left after the village and continue less than a half a kilometre to the entrance, following the signs.