Making The Most of The Heatwave: 8 Essential Tips For Irish Beach Visits

Article by Margaret Bonass Madden

What’s seldom is wonderful and if, like me, you are loving this Irish heatwave then make the most of it and get to the beach!

We live on a small island where you can find a stunning beach within a few hours, even if you are living in the midlands.

All you need is access to transport and you’re good to go. However, plan your trip wisely and avoid some common beach-blunders.

Image via @krisholman on Instagram
Image via @krisholman on Instagram

I grew up beside a beach, yet rarely went. My mother was intolerant of sand and terrified of water.

It was only when I hit my thirties that I have discovered that I am a complete beach-addict and have begun to chase the sun to feed my addiction.

I cannot swim very far but do a great impression of being an uber-capable swimmer (from the beach it looks like I am gliding through the deep waves but when I stop and stand up, the water only reaches hip-level.)

Here are some tips for making the most of the sunny days, with or without children in tow…

Note, my youngest is now eleven, as a mother of five, I am loving the lack of STUFF that smaller kids require. But, basically, the same rules apply.

Stop worrying about what other mothers are doing and just remember why you are hitting the beach in the first place. It’s about fun. Not appearances.

1. Only Bring the Bare Minimum

You don’t need 75 bottles of sunscreen, in a range of SPF. Simple. Sunscreen has come on in leaps and bounds.

The best ones for beach trips are the apply-once-a-day kind (especially for young children).

You do NOT need to wear make up to the beach. This is Ireland, not Marbella; you are NOT starring in The Real Housewives of Orange County

There are handy travel-size versions of all beach products but save your cash and use the travel-bottles from Penneys or Dealz.

These can be topped up regularly and reduce the weight of your beach bag. Keep in a zip-lock freezer bag to avoid the horrible sand-on-bottle thing.

2. Casual Hair and No Make-Up

You do NOT need to wear make up to the beach. This is Ireland, not Marbella; you are NOT starring in The Real Housewives of Orange County; a natural look is not to be feared.

The youngsters are too busy preening themselves to be concerned what anyone over 20 years of age looks like. A quick swipe of waterproof mascara and lip balm with SPF is all you need.

Image via @beachcafeuk on Instagram
Image via @beachcafeuk on Instagram

Similarly, with hairstyles. Tie up your tresses in a messy bun (literally – not a ‘fake’ messy bun that takes nearly an hour to do) or ponytail.

I find a plait is the best option for longer hair as it means you can avoid taking it down every time you turn onto your back.

A plait also reduces the need for brushing out tangles after a swim. Use the tiny bobbins to secure, as regular ones are too bulky.

3. Only One Outfit Required

You don’t need more than the clothes you wear. Bikini/swimsuit, shorts/t-shirt/dress and a cardigan or zippy. No need for anything else in good weather.

Kaftans and long, flowing dresses are all great on your beach trip abroad, but are wasted on an Irish day trip. They just get discarded and are rarely used for more than the (sticky) walk to/from the car.

Invest in a great sun hat instead. Flexible, wide-brimmed straw hats are the best as they shade the delicate skin on your face and neck and can easily be stuffed into a beach bag.

4. Flip-Flops are essential

Use your cheap and cheerful flip-flops if you plan on dipping your toes in the water. From Penneys to Havianas, rubber flip-flops are essential.

Don’t be worrying about showing off your finest footwear as shoes/trainers will be destroyed. Wedges are a disaster on the beach and can cause serious injury.

For those with small kids, forget bringing a book or earphones. It’s not going to happen.

Once again, just bring what is on your feet when you leave the house. Adults should NEVER be seen wearing Crocs. NO, NO, NO!

5. Basic Beach Towel

This is open to individual taste, but over the years I have abandoned the pricier large beach towels in favour of a regular towel and a light fleece throw.

The throw is ideal for sitting on while the towel absorbs the water after a swim/paddle/fake-swim.

Image via @beachcafeuk on Instagram
Image via @beachcafeuk on Instagram

I have also re-discovered the old-school, roll-up raffia mat as it is very compact for travel yet a good-enough length to provide a barrier from the sand.

6. Trusty Beach Bag

Think about this one. Too big and it is cumbersome; too small and you end up carrying extra bags.

I found the perfect, flexible, straw bag in H&M about 8 years ago and it never lets me down. Always check that there is an interior zippered pocket (for phone, keys, cash) and that the handles are not going to chaff your shoulders.

Unless you are having a full-blown beach party, don’t even think about bringing a cooler.

No need for expensive ones, as no-one cares what label you are toting. We are all there for the same reason: the sun and the sea.

7. Food Bag

Unless you are having a full-blown beach party, don’t even think about bringing a cooler.

How many times have you seen a poor pair of children struggling to carry a heavy and extremely bulky cooler over the dunes, while their parents saunter off ahead of them? It’s not cool.

Bottled water is fine and once kept in the shade is not going to boil anyone’s insides. Most beaches have a nearby newsagent or supermarket. Grab some bottles as you are passing.

You won’t die of dehydration in a couple of hours on an Irish beach. Plus, too much water means frequent trips to the loo. Be realistic.

Image via @theloveassembly
Image via @theloveassembly

I have also become quite clever and bring plenty of sandwiches and snacks to feed my lot on arrival.

When it’s gone, it’s gone (as they say) and then they won’t dupe me for €275 worth of junk due to their “sea-breeze hunger.” An ice-cream on the way home is almost always guaranteed, though.

To carry all this nosh? I have a water-proof large beach bag that I bought in Spain many moons ago. But, the large Ikea or Aldi bags are also ideal.

Remember to bring a bag for rubbish. There are very few bins on Irish beaches.

8. Book/Great Playlist

For those with small kids, forget bringing a book or earphones. It’s not going to happen.

For the rest of us, grab a great paperback or your kindle and have your earphones ready for some serious summer tunes.

Lie back, exhale and enjoy your surroundings/lack of housework/day off work.

Image via @kcstauffer on Instagram
Image via @kcstauffer on Instagram

So, that’s it. Pack up and go. It is less daunting than it seems and you will never bore of the amazing views and sound of the sea.

Avoid the busier beaches, if at all possible. I rarely go back to my hometown beach as it is SO busy in the summer.

Now I seek out the quieter spots and make sure to walk a good bit down from main thoroughfares.

Within 5 minutes, there is a noticeable softening of sand and a raised level of sea-sounds.

This beach-lover wishes you a day full of sand, sea and little-fuss. ENJOY!

Margaret Bonass Madden
 Margaret Bonass Madden is a book blogger/reviewer, features writer and mother of five.

She can be found with her nose in a book, surrounded by beauty products and subscription boxes, on Twitter and at