Exploring Murlough Bay: A Guide to the Beautiful Irish Coastline

Welcome to Murlough Bay – a hidden gem tucked away on the beautiful Irish coastline. With its history, breathtaking scenery and abundance of activities, this area is a must-visit destination for all lovers of the outdoors. Let’s dive into what makes Murlough Bay so special.

A Brief History of Murlough Bay

Murlough Bay has a long and fascinating history, dating back to the prehistoric era. The geological formation of the landscape has played a significant role in shaping the area’s culture, trade and economy over the centuries.

The area surrounding Murlough Bay is rich in archaeological remains, with evidence of human habitation dating back to the Neolithic period. The ancient people who lived here left behind a wealth of artefacts, including stone tools, pottery, and even burial mounds. These artefacts provide a glimpse into the lives of the people who once called this area home, and their significance cannot be overstated.

Geological Formation

The coast of Murlough Bay is defined by striking cliffs, caves, and jagged rock formations that date back millions of years. These unique geological formations were created by the movement of glaciers and the resulting erosion over time. Now, they’re a stunning reminder of the earth’s ancient history.

The geology of the area has also played a significant role in shaping the local economy. The cliffs and rock formations are a popular destination for rock climbers and hikers, while the sheltered bay provides a safe haven for fishermen and sailors. The local economy has long been tied to the sea, with fishing and maritime trade playing a vital role in the community.

Cultural Significance

Murlough Bay’s history is also known for its cultural significance. In the early years, the bay was used as a busy trade route between Ireland and Scotland, with the people of the area gaining a reputation as skilled navigators. The bay was also a popular destination for pirates and smugglers, who used the maze of caves and hidden coves to evade the authorities.

More recently, Murlough Bay has become a popular destination for artists and writers, who are drawn to the area’s natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. The bay has been celebrated in literature and film, including the British TV series ‘Game of Thrones’, which used the surrounding coastline as a backdrop for several iconic scenes. The show has brought international attention to the area, and has helped to promote tourism in the region.

How to Get to Murlough Bay

Getting to Murlough Bay is easy, no matter where you’re starting from. Here are three ways to reach this stunning destination:

By Car

The easiest way to reach Murlough Bay is by car. From Belfast, it’s a scenic two-hour drive that takes you through picturesque countryside and along the stunning Causeway Coastal route. You’ll pass by the famous Giant’s Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the iconic Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Along the way, you can stop at quaint villages and towns such as Bushmills and Portrush, where you can sample some of the best seafood in the region.

From Derry, it’s a similar distance that takes you through the beautiful Glens of Antrim. You’ll drive through winding roads that offer breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and rolling hills. Make sure to stop at the charming village of Cushendun, where scenes from the popular TV series “Game of Thrones” were filmed.

By Public Transportation

If you’re coming from Belfast, you can take a bus or train to Ballycastle, then transfer to a local bus service that will take you directly to Murlough Bay. The journey takes around two and a half hours, but it’s worth it for the stunning views along the way. You’ll pass through the quaint village of Ballintoy, which was also featured in “Game of Thrones.”

From Derry, the best option is to take a train or bus to Coleraine, then take a bus from there. The journey takes around two hours, and you’ll pass through the bustling town of Limavady, where you can visit the Roe Valley Country Park and learn about the area’s rich history and wildlife.

Guided Tours

If driving or taking public transport isn’t an option, there are several guided tours available that will take you to Murlough Bay and other nearby attractions. These tours are a great way to learn about the area’s history and culture while enjoying the stunning natural surroundings. Some tours include a visit to the ruins of Dunluce Castle, a medieval fortress that sits atop a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Others take you to the quaint fishing village of Portballintrae, where you can sample some of the freshest seafood in the region.

Natural Attractions and Scenery

One of the most significant draws of Murlough Bay is its stunning natural scenery. From rugged coastlines to sandy beaches, there’s something for everyone here. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll find plenty to explore in this beautiful part of the world.

Murlough Beach

For those looking to relax and soak up the sun, Murlough Beach is a perfect spot. This picturesque sandy beach is surrounded by towering cliffs and stunning views of the North Sea. The beach is clean and well-maintained, making it a popular destination for families and couples alike. You can take a dip in the clear blue waters or simply lounge on the sand and watch the world go by.

Murlough National Nature Reserve

The Murlough National Nature Reserve is a unique and protected area of sand dunes and salt marshes with a particular ecosystem. The reserve is known for its diverse array of flora and fauna, including over 20 species of butterfly. Visitors can take a guided walk to learn about the reserve’s history, ecology and wildlife. The reserve is also home to several rare species of birds, including the redshank and the curlew. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a grey seal or two basking on the shore.

Coastal Walks and Hiking Trails

For those who love to explore the great outdoors, there are several stunning coastal walks and hiking trails around Murlough Bay. The Murlough Bay Coastal Path is a 5-kilometer trail that takes you along the cliffs and past several prehistoric sites. The trail is well-marked and suitable for walkers of all abilities. Another popular route is the Glens of Antrim Way, which winds through the rolling hills of the surrounding area. This route is more challenging, but the views are well worth the effort. Along the way, you’ll see ancient ruins, picturesque villages, and breathtaking vistas.

Wildlife Spotting

The area around Murlough Bay is also home to a wide variety of wildlife. From seals and dolphins to eagles and gannets, there’s always something interesting to see. If you’re lucky, you might spot a pod of dolphins playing in the bay or catch a glimpse of a peregrine falcon hunting for prey. The area is also rich in marine life, with several species of fish and crustaceans living in the rocky tide pools. Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or simply enjoy observing nature, Murlough Bay is a great place to explore.

Activities and Things to Do

With so much stunning natural scenery around, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of fun and exciting activities to take part in. However, Murlough Bay isn’t just about the activities; it’s also a place to relax and take in the natural beauty that surrounds you.

Water Sports

For those who love the adrenaline rush of water sports, Murlough Bay is a paradise. The clear blue waters of the bay provide the perfect setting for a variety of water sports. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, there are plenty of options available for all skill levels.

Surfing is one of the most popular water sports at Murlough Bay. The waves here are perfect for both beginners and experienced surfers. Paddleboarding is another popular activity, and it’s a great way to explore the bay at a leisurely pace. Kayaking and windsurfing are also popular options, and there are plenty of rental shops in the area.


Murlough Bay and its surrounding areas offer fantastic opportunities for birdwatching. The Murlough National Nature Reserve is home to a vast array of bird species, including several rare and endangered varieties. The reserve is a protected area, and it’s an important habitat for many bird species.

Some of the bird species you can spot at Murlough Bay include the Eurasian curlew, the redshank, and the common sandpiper. The reserve is also home to several species of ducks, geese, and swans. Birdwatchers can explore the reserve on foot, and there are several observation hides in the area.

Photography Opportunities

The stunning natural scenery of Murlough Bay makes it a prime destination for photographers. The striking coastal cliffs, rock formations, and sandy beaches provide a beautiful backdrop for any photo. Whether you’re a professional photographer or just enjoy taking photos as a hobby, Murlough Bay is a great place to capture some stunning shots.

Some of the best photography spots at Murlough Bay include the beach at Newcastle, the sand dunes at Murlough National Nature Reserve, and the coastal cliffs at Keel Point. The best time to take photos is during the golden hour, just after sunrise or just before sunset.

Picnicking and Relaxing

For those who want to take things at a slower pace, Murlough Bay is an excellent place to relax and unwind. The stunning beaches and tranquil surroundings make it a perfect spot for a picnic or just to sit and take in the stunning natural beauty.

You can bring your own picnic or grab a bite to eat at one of the nearby cafes or restaurants. The area is also popular for hiking, and there are several trails in the area that offer stunning views of the bay.

Whether you’re looking for adventure or just want to relax and take in the natural beauty, Murlough Bay has something for everyone. So why not plan a trip today and experience all that this stunning destination has to offer?

Nearby Attractions and Day Trips

While Murlough Bay is undoubtedly a destination in its own right, there are plenty of other fantastic attractions in the surrounding area that are well worth a visit. Whether you’re looking for adventure, natural beauty, or a glimpse into the local culture, there’s something for everyone nearby.

The Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway is one of Northern Ireland’s most famous attractions, drawing visitors from around the world. This stunning natural formation is located around an hour’s drive from Murlough Bay, making it an easy day trip. The Causeway is made up of around 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit for anyone interested in geology or natural history.

But the Giant’s Causeway is more than just a geological wonder. It’s also steeped in folklore and legend. According to local legend, the columns were created by the giant Finn McCool, who built them as stepping stones to Scotland to fight his rival giant. Visitors can learn more about the legends and history of the Causeway at the on-site visitor center.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

For the more adventurous visitor, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is a must-visit attraction. This iconic rope bridge crosses from the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede and offers breathtaking views of the coast. The bridge is suspended 30 meters above the sea and is not for the faint of heart, but the views are worth it for those who dare to cross.

Once on the island, visitors can explore the rugged coastline and learn about the history of the area. The island was once a salmon fishing hotspot, and visitors can still see the remains of the old fishing station.

Rathlin Island

A short ferry ride from the mainland, Rathlin Island is a charming and remote island that is well worth a visit. With its rugged cliffs, stunning natural scenery, and peaceful surroundings, it’s an excellent place to relax and soak up the local culture.

The island is home to a small community of around 150 people, who are proud of their unique way of life. Visitors can learn about the island’s history and culture at the local museum, which tells the story of the island’s past, including its role in the Spanish Armada and the life of local hero Robert the Bruce.

The Glens of Antrim

The Glens of Antrim are a series of beautiful valleys that are worth exploring. With scenic drives and picturesque villages, it’s a great place to experience the local history and culture. The area is home to a number of small towns and villages, each with its own unique character and charm.

Visitors can explore the Glens by car, bike, or on foot, taking in the stunning scenery and learning about the local history. Highlights include Glenariff Forest Park, which is home to a number of walking trails and waterfalls, and the village of Cushendun, which is famous for its unique architecture and stunning coastal views.

Local Cuisine and Where to Eat

After all that sightseeing and adventure, you’ll likely work up an appetite. Luckily, Murlough Bay is home to some fantastic restaurants and local delicacies. But where do you start?

Traditional Irish Dishes

For a taste of authentic Irish cuisine, try some traditional dishes like Irish stew, champ, and soda bread. These hearty dishes are the perfect comfort food after a day exploring the outdoors. Irish stew is a filling and warming dish made with lamb or beef, potatoes, carrots, and onions. Champ is a simple yet delicious side dish made with mashed potatoes, scallions, and butter. And soda bread is a staple in Irish households, made with flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk.

One of the best places to try these dishes is at Mary’s Cottage Kitchen. This cozy restaurant is located in the heart of Murlough Bay and serves up traditional Irish dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable.

Seafood Specialties

Murlough Bay is renowned for its excellent seafood. From locally caught lobsters to fresh oysters, there’s plenty of options for seafood lovers. Visit one of the many seafood eateries in the area to sample the local catch cooked to perfection.

If you’re in the mood for some seafood, head over to The Lobster Pot. This family-run restaurant is situated on the harbor and offers stunning views of the bay. The menu features a variety of seafood dishes, including lobster, crab, and prawns. The seafood is cooked to order, ensuring that it’s always fresh and delicious.

Recommended Restaurants and Pubs

For a delicious meal or a pint of Guinness, there are several fantastic pubs and restaurants in the area. Some recommended options include The Fullerton Arms, The Bayview Hotel, and the Red Door Restaurant & Bistro. Each offers a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, perfect for relaxing after a day of adventure.

The Fullerton Arms is a traditional Irish pub that serves up hearty pub grub and a great selection of beers and spirits. The Bayview Hotel is a family-friendly hotel that offers a range of dining options, including a fine-dining restaurant and a casual bistro. And the Red Door Restaurant & Bistro is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, serving up modern Irish cuisine in a chic and stylish setting.

Whatever your taste buds desire, Murlough Bay has something to offer. So why not indulge in some local cuisine and experience the flavors of Ireland?

Accommodation Options

If you’re planning to stay overnight in Murlough Bay, there are several accommodation options to choose from.

Hotels and Bed & Breakfasts

For those who prefer a bit of luxury, there are several hotels and bed & breakfasts in the area that offer a comfortable and cozy place to stay. Some options include the Bayview Hotel, The Fullerton Arms and The Marine Hotel.

Self-Catering Cottages

For those who prefer a bit more independence, self-catering cottages are an excellent choice. These charming and cozy homes are available to rent all over the area and offer a home-away-from-home experience.

Camping and Caravan Sites

For those who love the great outdoors, camping and caravan sites are a popular choice. There are several options available in the surrounding area, including the popular Ballyness Caravan Park and the Cushendall Caravan Park.

Final Thoughts

From its geological history to its stunning natural scenery and exciting activities, Murlough Bay is a must-visit destination for those who love the great outdoors and exploring new cultures. With easy access by car or public transport, it’s easy to plan a trip here no matter where you’re starting from. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head out on an adventure to Murlough Bay today!

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