Beaches. 1.5 miles into town is the wide sand arc of the East Strand beach which is popular for paddling and surfing. It is bounded by a new pedestrian promenade and an extensive dune system with excellent views of The Skerries and the Causeway headlands.
Continue along the sand arc and you’ll reach Portrush’s Whiterocks Beach. It is backed by limestone cliffs and spans from Curran Strand to Dunluce Castle (the castle is an un-missable photo opportunity). Awarded the prestigious Blue Flag for its crystal clear water, the beach’s grassy knolls offer great views and are ideal for picnics.
Portstewart Strand. This area of natural beauty and of scientific interest is owned and managed by the National Trust. Another Blue Flag beach, it is one of the few remaining beaches in Ireland where cars still have permission to drive onto the sand - perfect for families who want to picnic on the golden shores. There are nature trails to explore amongst the dunes. During the high season there is a charge for parking (free for National Trust members).
Portrush Town. The Harbour area is packed with restaurants, bars and cafes with an interesting mix of shops and is well worth an amble. It is a 5 minute journey by car from Copperpot Cottage or a 25 minute walk (1.5 miles).
Barry’s Amusements offers rollercoasters, bumper cars and rides for the whole family. Waterworld Portrush (T: 028 7082 2001) is a family-friendly water park with 2 spa pools, a playground and slides, plus 6 tenpin bowling lanes. Open July and August only.
From personal experience, the bustling Ramore Complex right on the Harbour (T: 028 7082 4313) offers some good dining options including The Wine Bar, Coast Pizza (children welcome) and The Harbour Bar. Even in the low season, it is busy and worth popping in to put your name down for a table since booking isn’t possible in all the outlets.
55 Degrees North (T: 028 7082 2811), on Causeway Street, offers reasonably priced lunches and dinners as well as afternoon tea with great views (children welcome). Further afield, Tartine (The Distillers Arms, 140 Main Street, Bushmills, T:028 2073 1044) offers great food and an interesting wine list.
Highly recommended is Harry’s Shack (T: 028 7083 1783) on Portstewart Strand beach, for brunch, lunch and dinners with an emphasis on local ingredients – particularly fresh local fish. BYOB. It is always bustling and service can sometimes take a while.
If you’re looking for a little urban glamour you might try The Harbour Bar. For a quintessential Irish pub experience, The Springhill Bar (Causeway Street. T: 028 7082 3361) hosts traditional Irish live music every Thursday night. The Kiwi Brew Bar (T: 07900 660965, 47 Main Street) offers a friendly welcome and a range of craft beers.
The Causeway Coast
Rated one of the Top Five Road trips worldwide, the spectacular Causeway Coast road winds its way from Derry to Belfast through Portrush taking in castles, distilleries, cliff-top walks, harbours and grand houses along the way http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/causeway/.
Here’s a list of the big attractions, plus some local secrets we’d like to share with you. Also, whether you're a novice or a pro we’ve some specialist local information for lovers of golf, walking, fishing and surfing. Just click on your sport and open the file.
- Giant’s Causeway: Legend has it that the giant, Finn McCool, created this geological marvel. It is a World Heritage Site and now has an impressive visitors centre to match. Tip: car parking charges might take your breath away, so park across the road at the Heritage Railway (also worth a ride).
- Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge: Spanning a chasm eighty feet deep, it is an exhilarating experience peering down through the wooden slats into the clear waters below. The coastal path offers stunning views of Rathlin and the Scottish Isles, as well as a noisy seabird colony.
- Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery: Join a tour of the distillery to observe the craft of traditional Irish whiskey making and sample the goods too.
- Ballintoy Harbour: A picture-postcard pretty harbour with a pocket-sized tea room and magical views. Much-loved by walkers, this is the most celebrated part of the Causeway Coast.
- Whitepark Bay Beach: The spectacular sandy beach forms a white arc between two headlands including the tiny salmon-fishing village of Portbraddan. The beach is backed by ancient dunes rich in bird and animal life. Enjoy lazy summer days, picnics, making sandcastles and long walks along this truly beautiful beach.
Some of our favourite things to do...
- Exploring the rockpools at Murlough Bay. It is exceptionally beautiful and remote.
- Eating fish and chips from Morton’s, Ballycastle. Grab a bench and watch the sun set over Ballycastle Harbour as you tuck into the best battered cod for miles.
- Watching the seals on the beach at Rathlin Island. Hop on the ferry and take a picnic lunch.
- Ambling through the conservation village of Cushendun. It’s a great place to stop for coffee as you drive the coastal route. Don’t forget to say hello to the resident Billy Goat Gruff.
- Deep sea fishing for cod, mackerel and anything that bites with Captain Chris on his fully equipped boat “The Lord Moyle” sailing out of Ballycastle Marina.