For anyone looking to do just that, the ideal starting point is the INA’s own website which lists a number of naturist friendly beaches around the country. Some are well known and well frequented, such as Sallymount in Wicklow and Trawalua in Sligo; others less so. But equally there are many other locations where opportunities exist to go clothes-free that might not be known to the wider naturist community.
The western county of Mayo is a case in point. The third largest county in Ireland, its rugged and indented coastline is claimed to be the longest of any Irish county at 1,168 km, yet its entire population is only slightly over 130,000 people.
The INA website lists the following four beaches as being naturist friendly in Mayo, so to check out just how suitable they are, members of the INA paid a visit to the county in March. Granted, it was hardly naturist friendly weather, but that didn’t stop this hardcore group from stripping off – all in the call of duty! This is what we found.
- Trawmore, Keel, Achill Island
Located at the foot of the vertically rising Minaun Cliffs, said to be one of the highest in Europe, Trawmore is at the eastern end of Keel Beach, the most popular holiday location on Achill. Access off the main R319 thoroughfare is at Dookinelly, approximately 2km east of Keel. From there you progress through a rather densely populated area before the road peters out at the foot of the cliffs.
It’s a relatively open area, with a wave battered sandy beach behind which is a stony section. A car parking / turning area backs onto the grassy mountainside.
It was deserted on the day we were there (although a walking couple did approach as we were leaving), which provided an opportunity to get rid of the clothes and experience a quick stroll as nature intended.The local sheep were singularly unimpressed – clearly not the first naturists they have come across!
During high season, the ease of access suggests that Trawmore is likely to be rather popular on fine days. Though keep to the far end near the rocks and only the more dedicated wanderers should venture that far.
- Keem Bay, Achill
Located at the westerly end of Achill Island (continue on the R319 until the road runs out), and bordered on three sides by cliffs, the exceedingly picturesque Keem Bay features on virtually every review of the region. Indeed on the day we visited there was a constant stream of sightseers despite it being a mid-week day in March, indicating that it is likely to be very popular on fine weekends.
However, take a stroll over to the far (northern) end of the beach and you come across a heart-warming word painted boldly on the craggy landscape.
Beyond this is a small sandy section separated from the rest of the beach, obviously the area where naturists hang out. It would seem that when the tide is out you can just walk straight into it (so not very secluded), but you may have to clamber over the rocks once the tide comes in.
Overall we’d rate this quite highly for its naturist potential. While not the most private location, it’s at the far end of the beach, and the ‘Nudist’ sign should give any unsuspecting wanderer sufficient warning of what they may encounter.
- Bartraw Beach, Murrisk
Bartraw is a popular beach location south of Westport on the Louisburgh road (R335). Located near Murrisk at the foot of Croagh Patrick, it’s a narrow peninsula jutting out into Clew Bay- take the first road right after Murrisk village to access.
The eastern side of the peninsula (facing towards Croagh Patrick) is the naturist friendly section. Hilly dunes separate the two sides with well worn trails in between. Unlike the western side which has decent stretches of sand, the naturist side of the beach is largely stony.
Again this is a beach that will be popular on fine days, though most people will stay on the western side. Walk some distance from the car-park and there should be sufficient privacy to allow naturism to be practiced.
- Old Head, near Louisburgh
Old Head is located a few kilometres further on from Bartraw in the Louisburgh direction. The naturist area is a small secluded cove north of the main beach.
From the R335, a turn-off to the right (if you are coming from Westport) sign-posted for Old Head leads to a curving sandy beach backing up onto rocks. When the tide is in traversing over the rocks to the naturist area may be challenging.
There is another access road a little further north off the R335 – a narrow lane that ends on the beach close to the naturist section. However this access road offers minimal car parking space (a couple of cars at max), and barely even room to turn a car, so we’d suggest it is better to park at the main car park and walk around the seashore.
The naturist part of the beach is fairly secluded and unlikely to attract too many casual passers-by. The beach area itself is a mixture of rocks and small sandy sections. Access is the biggest challenge – either a decent walk from Old Head car park with tide movement a consideration, or very restricted vehicular access on the nearer road.
CHECK HERE THE VIDEO DEPICTING OUR EXPERIENCE:
Have you experienced naturism on any of these beaches? Do you agree with our reviews? Are there other beaches in Mayo that are suitable for naturist activity? If so, please let us know.