With 11 beaches within less than hour and a half’s travel from Belfast – there really is no excuse to get your bucket and spade and have some fun.

With the help of Tourism NI, we’ve picked out 11 of the best closest to Belfast…

1. Whitepark Bay

1 hour 15 minutes from Belfast

The spectacular sandy beach forms a white arc between two headlands on the North Antrim coast. In this secluded location, even on a busy day there is plenty of room for quiet relaxation. The beach is backed by ancient dunes that provide a range of rich habitats for bird and animal life.

Whitepark Bay near to Ballycastle is a spectacular sandy beach on the North Antrim Coast and is the perfect place for a road trip with friends.

2. Helen’s Bay

15 minutes from Belfast

INBV-Beaches Helens Bay

Helen’s Bay Beach is one of two excellent beaches which can be found in Crawfordsburn Country Park.

These beautiful sandy beaches are exceptionally popular with excellent water quality making them ideal for dipping toes.

The country park provides an excellent back drop to the beach, with wooded headlands, meadows, quality walks and good facilities.

3. Portstewart Strand

1 hour 15 minutes from Belfast

Portstewart strand

Maintained by the National Trust, Portstewart Strand is an area of natural beauty and of scientific interest.

It holds the prestigious Blue Flag award and is perfect for picnics as well as fun outdoor activities such as surfing, swimming and horse riding.

4. Tyrella

55 minutes from Belfast

INBV-Beaches Tyrella beach

Tyrella Beach is a small enclosed beach and dune complex within Dundrum Bay and is situated alongside the Mourne coastal pathway.

The stunning waters invite water sport enthusiasts all year round and it’s the perfect place to spend the day with a friend.

5. Crawfordsburn

30 minutes from Belfast

INBV-Beaches Crawfordsburn Beach

Crawfordsburn Beach is one of two beaches located within the grounds of Crawfordsburn Country Park and offers wooded headlands, meadows and quality walking trails all within a very short journey from Belfast.

6. Ballygally

45 minutes from Belfast

INBV-Beaches Ballygally Beach

Ballygally Beach offers stunning views along the Antrim coastline so groups of friends should be sure to bring their camera to capture selfies with the dramatic scenery.

7. Ballyholme

30 minutes from Belfast

INBV-Beach Sand Castle shutterstock

This is a suburb beach in the seaside town of Bangor.

Visitors can enjoy long walks on the sand before sampling a delicious ice cream available in one of the many local cafes or restaurants.

8. Cranfield

1 hour 15 minutes from Belfast

INBV-Beaches Cranfield beach

Popular for water sport enthusiasts, Cranfield beach can be found in an idyllic location at the mouth of Carlingford Lough and with the majestic Mourne Mountains offering a dramatic backdrop, it is a picture perfect beach.

9. Murlough National Nature Reserve

1 hour from Belfast

Christmas 08

Murlough National Nature Reserve is a fragile 6000 year old sand dune system owned by the National Trust and is perfect for walkers or anyone interested in bird watching due to its spectacular location at the edge of Dundrum Bay and the Mourne Mountains.

10. Warrenpoint

1 hour from Belfast

<a hrefhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrenpoint harbour Today a small,though modern passenger ferry service operates out of Warrenpoint to the quaint village of Omeath in Co.Louth famed for its dubious diesel. The trip, amid spectacular scenery, takes about 15 minutes. The ferry service is over 100 years in existence. Nowadays, it is seasonal and operates daily in the summer months, from the end of May to September. Other cruises include trips to Narrow-Water Castle and Bay & Harbour Cruises.

Warrenpoint Beach is located alongside the Mourne Mountains on the shores of Carlingford Lough, in County Down.

A gently sloping beach with a range of amenities that include shopping and a promenade popular with everyone.

11. Benone

1 hour 20 minutes from Belfast

Benone Beach, multiple recipient of the European Blue Flag and Seaside Award, is a must-see when visiting the area. With seven miles of golden sand and a magnificent back drop of mountain and cliff scenery and stunning views across to Donegal, this is an attractive sightseeing environment along with the usual seaside activities including picnic spots, watersports, and fishing. The clean, firm, golden sands of Benone Strand are without rocks, shingle or seaweed and are preceded by the glorious natural formations of Benone's sand dunes. With a supervised playground, outdoor paddling pool and golf club, a fun filled day is guaranteed. It is a haven for nature lovers as the entire area is a paradise for the study of botany, entomology and shells.

Benone Beach is an absolute must – see with seven miles of glorious golden sand and a magnificent back drop of stunning scenery. Views go as far as Donegal and visitors can choose from a range of picnic areas, watersports or even enjoy a spot of fishing.

For more information go to discovernorthernireland.com.

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