Achill’s Keem Bay Listed in Top 20 of World’s Best Beaches

Achill’s Keem Bay Listed in Top 20 of World’s Best Beaches

Travel guide Lonely Planet has followed the publication of its 100 Best Beaches in the World book by selecting its top 20 … and Achill’s Keem Bay is listed at number 16!

Last month Lonely Planet launched a new book, ‘Best Beaches: 100 of the World’s Most Incredible Beaches‘, with Keem Bay being Ireland’s only beach included in the guide. Following this, the highly respected travel guide asked its writers to select 20 out of that 100 to make its list of best beaches in the world.

Number one was The Pass at Byron Bay, in New South Wales (Australia), followed by Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and then Ao Maya at Ko Phi-Phi, Krabi, in Thailand. This third-placed beach was featured in the 2000 movie ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and was forced to close in 2018 for four years as authorities attempted to remediate the damage caused by too many visitors. Since reopening it has severe restrictions, including a ban on swimming for the maximum 375 visitors allowed in on an hourly slot schedule.

Ranking Keem Bay in 16th place in its top 20 list, Lonely Planet describes it as ‘one of Ireland’s most glorious, secluded bays’. It goes on to say: “The verdant green hillsides spill down to a deep-set horseshoe-shaped bay, where a pale-blonde beach sits framed by the Croaghaun Cliffs and the swell of the wild Atlantic. Tucked away beneath the cliffs, the bay offers calm (if cool) waters. Swimmers and snorkelers can both take advantage of the gentle sea here. Launch a kayak from the shore during the warmer summer months for fabulous views of the rural Ireland from the water. You might also catch a glimpse of pods of dolphins, which sometimes swim and feed by the bay.”

In addition to the dolphins mentioned in the article, Keem Bay is also home to basking sharks in late spring and early summer months. The beach at Keem, and one of the old fishermen’s cottages located there, were featured in the 2022 movie ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’. The cottage was staged as the home of lead character Colm Doherty, played by Brendan Gleeson.

It should be noted that the article refers to Keem being framed by ‘the Croaghaun Cliffs’; while it is true that the road to Keem skirts the southern slopes of Croaghaun mountain, the more famous ‘Croaghaun Cliffs’ are on the northern side and accessible only by foot, or to be viewed from the sea via a boat trip (sailings from Dugort Pier during the season). These cliffs, at 687m, are the highest sea cliffs in Ireland and the third highest in Europe.

Blue Flag Beach at Keem Bay, Achill Island