Ballymastocker Beach aka Portsalon Beach Guide + Tips From Locals

I was always curious about Ballymastocker Beach, also known as Portsalon Beach or Ballymastocker Strand, because I heard it was voted as the  “second most beautiful beach in the world” by the Observer Magazine!

Ballymastocker Beach is located in the North of county Donegal, so when Ger and I did a road trip to Donegal we made it a priority to swing by this beach ! 

I have to say, although Ger and I have traveled to many beaches in Ireland, this one tops the list. Its one of the most breathtaking beaches we have visited O_O (and I’ve lived in NZ, so that’s really saying something!)

Ballymastocker Beach

On a good day, the clear waters look emerald. It really is the perfect place to go for a stroll. It’s surrounded by green fields and golden brown sand which remind you of the wonders of the rugged Irish coastline.

Anyway, I’ll share more about this beautiful location along with some interesting tips from locals we learned when we visited 🙂 

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Ballymastocker beach

About Ballymastocker Beach

Ballymastocker Beach is a stunning sandy beach on the Fanad Peninsula. The views of the beach and the surrounding area will take your breath away. 

This is the perfect place to chill out on the beach or even go for a dip!

1. Location

Ballymastocker Beach is located in Portsalon Ireland. The town of Portsalon is situated on the North-West side of the Fanad Peninsula in County Donegal.

This beautiful beach on the Eastern shore of Lough Swilly overlooks Ballymastocker Bay and is situated to the south of Fanad Head and north of Rathmullan.

You can find the precise location of Ballymastocker Beach on Google Maps.

2. Where To Park

There is a car park on the southern side of the beach. There are facilities such as toilets and picnic tables here also.

During the summer months the car park can get quite busy so make sure to arrive early to ensure you get a parking space.

3. How To Get To The Beach

The car park is right beside the beach on the southern side so it is just a short walk down to the beach.

You can also walk to the beach from the town of Portsalon which is on the Northern side of the beach.

There are cafes, bars and shops right by the beach in Portsalon.

We rented a car as it gave us flexibility and freedom to explore Donegal and its beautiful beaches. We recommend DiscoverCars.

4. Staying Safe at Ballymastocker Beach

Ballymastocker Beach Donegal is a stunning Blue Flag Beach. This means it is exceptionally clean and you can swim at this beach.

There are lifeguards on duty here between June and September from 12 noon to 6:30 pm.

Despite the presence of lifeguards it is very important to be cautious and ensure you check the swimming conditions before entering the water.

For more information about tide times and beach safety check out the Donegal Beaches Website.

Other Tips:

1- It gets windy, so pack layers 

2- Rain comes suddenly, pack waterproofs! 

3- The water is crystal clear and beautiful!  

I love THIS windbreaker and these waterproofs! Super light, does the job and keeps me warm. 

Things To Do At Ballymastocker Beach

1. Enjoy The View

Ballymastocker Bay Donegal offers one of the most amazing views in the country. 

There is a viewing point along the road to Ballymastocker Beach which provides the most amazing panorama of Ballymastocker Bay, the beautiful beach and the surrounding fields. 

You can reach the Ballymastocker Beach Viewpoint by driving along the R268 road from Rathmullan. You will have amazing views of the bay as you reach the viewpoint.

You can find the precise location of the Ballymastocker Beach Viewpoint on Google Maps.

2. Go For A Stroll

Ballymastocker Beach offers 1.5km of beautiful golden sand. You can take a stroll along the beach any time of day or any time of year. 

Just make sure to wrap up if you’re visiting the beach during the Winter. 

The best time to visit the beach is in the morning at sunrise. The views are spectacular throughout the day but the beach is even more beautiful in the morning sun.

3. Go For a Dip

Sea swimming has become incredibly popular in Ireland despite the cold weather and Ballymastocker Beach is one of the best places to do it.

Ballymastocker beach

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

As it is a blue flag beach you are guaranteed a clean beach and safety facilities. 

You could just dip your toes in the water to see if you can handle the cold before you immerse yourself.

Just make sure to stay safe if you decide to go for a swim.

Ballymastocker beach

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

Places To Visit Near Ballymastocker Beach

1. Fanad Head Lighthouse

Fanad Head Lighthouse is one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world. It is located on the northern point of the Fanad Peninsula.

You can check out the visitor centre and also take a guided tour of the lighthouse.

Ballymastocker beach

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

2. Great Pollet Sea Arch

The Great Pollet Sea Arch is an incredible natural wonder located close to Fanad Head. There is a car park about half a mile from the sea arch.

There is a trail from the car park to the sea arch making this a very accessible natural wonder. It is well worth the visit.

Ballymastocker beach

3. Glenveagh National Park

Glenveagh National Park is an area of natural beauty in the heart of county Donegal.

The park showcases the landscape of Donegal with valleys, lakes, mountains and green fields.

The area is full of different flora and fauna. It is the perfect place for natural enthusiasts and hikers to explore.

Ballymastocker beach

4. Glenveagh Castle

Glenveagh Castle is nestled within the Glenveagh National Park.

The beautiful architecture along with the backdrop of the national park makes Glenveagh Castle a sight well worth seeing.

Exploring the castle, gardens and surrounding landscape offers a glimpse into Ireland’s past.

Ballymastocker beach

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

5. Wild Ireland

Wild Ireland is a very interesting visitor attraction in Donegal. It is a sanctuary for many animals including bears, wolves, lynx and monkeys.

You can learn about conservation and rescuing wild animals.

You can also learn about how animals such as bears and wolves roamed freely throughout Ireland in the past.

Ballymastocker beach

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

6. Fort Dunree Military Museum

The Fort Dunree Military Museum is located near Buncrana on the Inishowen Peninsula. The Fort was once a coastal defence fort, it now serves as a museum where you can learn about military history.

The site offers stunning views of Lough Swilly and the local landscape.

Ballymastocker beach

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

7. Glenevin Waterfall

Glenevin Waterfall is located on the Inishowen Peninsula. The stunning waterfall is surrounded by lush woodlands and striking rock formations.

There is also a walking trail that is well-signposted and takes about 45 minutes to complete.

Ballymastocker beach

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

8. Doagh Famine Village

Doagh Famine Village tells the story of life in Ireland from the time of the Great Famine in the 1840s up until the present day.

You can explore the village and even get a guided tour to learn about the way of life in Doagh Famine Village.

Ballymastocker beach

Photo Credit: Tripadvisor

9. Carrickabraghy Castle

Carrickabraghy Castle is a 16th-century castle perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

The site is a great place for history enthusiasts to explore. It is also a great location for photos and checking out the panoramic views of the coast.

Ballymastocker beach

10. Malin Head

Malin Head is the most northerly point in Ireland. The views from Malin Head are breathtaking.

You can take a stroll around the area and check out the stunning coastal views.

If the Northern Lights are forecast it is even possible to see the Aurora Borealis from Malin Head!

Where To Stay In Donegal

Luxury: Lough Eske Castle


Lough Eske Castle is a beautiful 5 Star hotel located just 10 minute’s drive from Donegal Town. This hotel provides top-class service and amazing views of Lough Eske and the Bluestack Mountains.

Lough Eske Castle has 3 restaurants to choose from on-site but we would recommend Cedars Restaurant. The steak was amazing!


Spa and indoor swimming pool, 3 restaurants and 2 bars/lounges, free WiFi, 24-hour room service, free parking and valet parking.

Local Attractions:

Price: $259 per night

Value: Mill Park Hotel


Mill Park Hotel is conveniently located in Donegal Town. There is so much to do in this area from golfing at the Donegal Golf Club to checking out the historical architecture of the town.

It is a great location to explore Donegal from, you can explore the Bluestack Mountains or even go surfing or scuba diving.


Swimming pool, hot tub, restaurant, free WiFi, bar and business services.

Local Attractions:

Price: $164 per night

Budget: The Gateway Lodge


The Gateway Lodge is also located in Donegal Town. 

This is the perfect location to start your Donegal adventure as you can easily head west to explore the Slieve League Peninsula or travel North through Letterkenny towards the Inishowen Peninsula.

The town itself also has a lot to offer from beautiful architecture and amazing restaurants to interesting museums and lively pubs.


Free parking, free WiFi and an exceptional breakfast.

Local Attractions:

Price: $99 per night

Glamping: Portsalon Luxury Camping


If you’re looking for Ballymastocker Bay accommodation, Portsalon Luxury Camping offers the most amazing views across Ballymastocker Bay. This luxury camping site is located just 2.2 km from Portsalon Beach. The accommodation offers amazing sea views and modern comforts.

The tents have stylish and comfortable furnishings which creates a luxurious space in the countryside. Visitors can embrace nature while maintaining modern comforts.

You can check out this article for more glamping spots in Donegal.

Amenities: Kitchen, outdoor fireplace,  barbeque facilities and free parking.

Local Attractions: 

Price: $120 per night

FAQs About Ballymastocker Beach

If you want to know more about Ballymastocker Beach and other beaches in Donegal, we’ve got you covered! In the following section, we’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about this topic.

Where Is Ballymastocker Beach?

If you are wondering where Ballymastocker Beach is, you will find it on the east of Fanad in Donegal. The beach is right beside the town of Portsalon. The beach is located on the Eastern shore of Lough Swilly between Fanad Head to the North and Rathmullan to the South.

How Long Is Ballymastocker Beach?

Ballymastocker Beach is approximately 1.5 km long. This beach is perfect for taking a stroll along the soft sand. The beach extends from the car park and facilities on the southern side up to the coastal town of Portsalon on the northern side which has cafes and bars very close to the beach.

Is Portsalon Beach Safe To Swim In?

Yes, Portsalon Beach is generally fine for swimming (but that also depends if you are a strong swimmer or not!). Portalon Beach is a blue flag beach meaning it is deemed safe for swimming. As there are lifeguards on duty during the summer, Portsalon Beach Donegal is a great place to swim. However, you must still be vigilant and take all necessary precautions before swimming here.

Is Portsalon A Blue Flag Beach?

Yes, Portsalon Beach is a Blue Flag Beach. The award of a blue flag signifies high standards for water quality, environmental sustainability and exceptional visitor amenities. Donegal has many Blue Flag Beaches but Portsalon is one of the most beautiful and clearly highlights why it was awarded a blue flag.

Ballymastocker Beach is one of the most picturesque places to see in Donegal. It is a great place to relax and unwind while experiencing the natural beauty of Ireland.

The landscape of Donegal is breathtaking but the county has such a rich history and strong traditions, it is the perfect place to experience what Ireland is really like.

You can continue your adventure from Ballymastocker Beach and check out some other interesting locations such as Fanad Head Lighthouse and Glenveagh National Park.

If you want to find out more about what Donegal has to offer you can check out the articles below.

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