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We spent four days exploring North Mayo to find some of the most spectacular hidden gems to share with you. From secret caves to picturesque swim spots our trip certainly didn’t disappoint. 

1. Swim Spot in Portacloy

North Mayo Swim Spot Portacloy

Just off the Portacloy loop walk lies this picturesque little cove. It’s the perfect way to cool down after your hike, that is if you can find it along the trail. And even when you find it getting in can be tricky as you need to climb down to the tip of the headland on the right in this image.

If you don’t feel like doing the full hike and only want to head for a swim you’re in luck because it’s no longer than a fifteen-minute walk from Portacloy Beach itself.

More Info: Portacloy Loop

2. The Downpatrick Head Cave

North Mayo Bucket List Adventures: Downpatrick Head Cave

The Downpatrick Head cave offers one of the most spectacular views of the iconic sea stack. Not many people are lucky enough to get to see the sea stack from below as there are very few safe conditions to attempt the journey underneath. However, if you are one of the lucky few you will be treated to one of North Mayo’s most unique hidden gems.

Although this location is amazing, we do not recommend attempting this unless you have experience in coasteering or are with an experienced guide.

More Info: Mayo North

3. Tearmann na Gaoithe

Tearmann na Gaoithe

Tearmann na Gaoithe is a stone sculpture created in 1993 as part of the Tír Sáile Sculpture Trail. It is located on the Kilcummin Loop Walk and is best visited at sunset. The views are out of this world and this hidden gem is a must-see for any outdoor enthusiast.

The full Kilcummin Loop can take up to three hours and we highly recommend completing it while visiting the sculpture.

More Info: Mayo North

4. Back Strand

North Mayo Hidden Gem Back Strand

Often referred to as North Mayo’s best-kept secret Back Strand is a beautiful stretch of beach located just a five-minute drive from Kilcummin Harbour and can be included in a looped walk with Tearmann na Gaoithe.

Back Strand is a beautiful spot to kayak, swim, or walk and if you’re lucky enough to catch it on a sunny day you will be absolutely blown away by the views on offer here.

More Info: Mayo North

5. The Inishkea Islands

North Mayo Bucket List Adventure: Inishkea Islands

This is probably one of the lesser-known islands off the west coast of Ireland but it is breathtakingly beautiful. With a mixture of white sandy beaches, sheer cliffs, and rich history, you would be out of your mind to pass up a trip here.

The island hasn’t been inhabited since the 1930s but the houses of the islanders still stand to this day. The stunning landscape and encapsulating history associated with this island make it one of North Mayo’s most unique hidden gems.

Geraghty Charters offers a boat service to the islands that costs €40.00 per person and takes about 45 minutes each way.

More Info: Geraghty Charters

6. Doonvinalla

Mayo North: Portacloy Loop Walk

If North Mayo wasn’t already known for their cliff walks, they better be known for them now.

Doonvinalla is one of the most scenic points along the Portacloy Loop but not many people know about it. It offers breathtaking views of vibrant blue waters beneath stunning sheer cliff faces and if you look hard enough you will even see multiple sea arches.

More Info: Portacloy Loop

7. Stags of Broadhaven

The Stags of Broadhaven
Image: Mayo North

The picture really says it all here, the Stags of Broadhaven are magnificent. They are located about 3km off the coast of Benwee Head, Kilgalligan. The Stags are very popular among kayakers as they have many sea arches and caves to explore. However, you would need a lot of kayaking experience to attempt a paddle around them so we do not recommend it for just anyone. Nevertheless, this unique geographical formation is 100% one of the most breathtaking hidden gems in North Mayo.

If it’s just the views you’re interested in then a hike around Erris head is the best way to enjoy the grouping of little islands.

More Info: Stags of Broadhaven

8. Belmullet Tidal Pool

Belmullet Tidal Pool
Image: Mayo North

It’s very rare to find pools like this in Ireland and that’s why Belmullet Tidal Pool has become so iconic. Although it has become insanely popular over the past few years, many people still haven’t heard about it. It is a great place for a saltwater swim and when the weather plays ball you’ll be treated to the most magnificent sunrises and sunsets from the pool.

More Info: Belmullet Tidal Pool

9. Surf at Elly Bay West

Image: Neal Doherty of Belmullet Walking Tours

If you’re looking to catch some of the best surf in North Mayo and Ireland then look no further than Elly Bay West. The warm weather and mellow waves during the summer make it better for beginners but an experienced surfer can still catch some killer waves here too.

More Info: Magicseaweed

10. Wild Nephin National Park

Dark Sky Park Ballycroy North Mayo

Wild Nephin National Park is Ireland’s sixth national park. The park spans a total of 15,000 hectares. It is a vast, unspoiled bog and mountainous region completely uninhabited by people. As well as this, the park has also received Gold Tier International Dark Sky Park status which is an award reserved for areas with the most exceptional dark skies and nightscapes. With beautiful 360 views in Ballycroy, this is a hidden gem you don’t want to miss.

More Info: Wild Nephin National Park

11. Deirbhle’s Twist

Deirbhle's Twist
Image: North Mayo Art Trail

Deirbhle’s twist is another beautiful art installation along the Tír Sáile. It was created by taking the already present granite boulders and erecting them in an ascending spiral. It reflects the work of megalithic sites and is a beautiful stop-off when in North Mayo.

The sculpture is located along a beautiful walk from Blacksod Lighthouse on the South coast of the Mullet peninsula with many more viewpoints and places of historical significance along the way.

More Info: Deirbhile’s Twist

12. Blacksod Lighthouse

Blacksod Lighthouse, Belmullet

Blacksod Lighthouse is a place of significant history and unique beauty (as you can see from the image above). The lighthouse now operates tours for visitors to come and learn about the history of Blacksod and the four lighthouses of Erris. The tour itself is so engaging and you really get a feel for the pride of the local people. Well worth a visit on your trip to North Mayo.

More Info: Blacksod Lighthouse

By Killian Andersen

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