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cool off

Destinations for a dip: 7 stunning swimming spots for a spur-of-the-moment road trip

Hop in the car and head to these spots to cool down.

IS THERE ANYWHERE better than Ireland, when the sun shines? Well, shining it is!

And if the heat gets a bit too much for you, please don’t moan that it is ‘too hot’ – not after that never-ending winter we just had.

Instead, jump in the car and take a road trip to these water holes where you can splish and splash to cool down whilst topping up your Vitamin D reserves.

Just remember to cover yourself in waterproof sunscreen.

Keem Bay, Achill Island

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The clifftop drive to reach beautiful Keem Bay is breathtaking – it might even the best bit about visiting this beach. Located at the western tip of Achill Island – and therefore one of the most westerly points – in Europe this Blue Flag beach it is perfect for sunset strolls.

The clear waters that lap this horseshoe bay contain a variety of fish and sealife, including basking sharks so it’s also a great snorkelling spot and the brisk Atlantic water will cool you down in an instant.

Sandscove, Co Cork

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The best thing about this beach is the lack of parking as it means that it is never really that crowded. To reach the beach you have to get out of the car and stroll through the narrow lane at Ballynoe House.

In the summer months the lane is bedecked with pretty wildflower and yellow-orange montbretia. The sheltered cove is great for swimming and the water is very clean and clear making it a great place to snorkel. Over the years, seals, dolphins and basking sharks have been spotted from the cove.

Silver Strand and Malin Beg, Co Donegal

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Silver Strand is a horse-shoe shaped beach situated at Malin Beg, near Glencolmcille, in stunning south-west Donegal. It is a picture-perfect beach and one that is great for families as it is protected by the cliffs and the water is usually clear and calm.

If you love to snorkel and dive, nearby Malin Beg harbour is a great spot. Make sure you spend some time driving around the area and taking in the wild beauty of this remote part of the country.

Vico, Dublin

Shutterstock / J.Hogan Shutterstock / J.Hogan / J.Hogan

Another swim spot with a fabulous drive to get to it, Vico is located off the Vico Road between Dalkey and Killiney. The Vico, also known as ‘The Ramps’ and Hawk Cliff is the perfect place to go to escape the crowds that congregate at the nearby Forty Foot.

At Vico, there is a handrail and steps that lead down the rocks into the deep waters and if the water is a bit too choppy you can take a dip in a small salt water pool instead. Unfortunately, this swimming spot is not accessible and is best suited to stronger swimmers.

Glanmore Lake, Kerry

Shutterstock / Vilkas Vision Shutterstock / Vilkas Vision / Vilkas Vision

Drive the spectacular and infamous Healy’s Pass and stop at the top to look down over the lovely Glanmore Lake surrounded by the impressive Caha Mountains.

Then, put your driving skills to the test and navigate back down the pass and around the road that circles the lake and stop near the stone boathouse towards the Lauragh end. This is a great place for a dip as the water is clean and, well, let’s call it ‘fresh’. You’ll certainly beat the heat in this spot.

Badger’s Cove, Dunmore East, Waterford

Take the scenic and historic route to Dunmore East through the small villages of Passage East and Cheekpoint and along Waterford Harbour. Then, head to the north of Dunmore harbour where you’ll find some steep steps that lead their way to this small sandy bay which is backed by cliffs and a cave.

You can swim out of the cove and join the more adventurous folk that jump off the surrounding rocks or you can just have a leisurely swim and watch the Nesting Kittiwakes going about their birdie business in their colonies.

Brittas Bay, Wicklow

Shutterstock / Conall Hart Shutterstock / Conall Hart / Conall Hart

A childhood favourite of mine, Brittas Bay is your quintessential family beach which gets very busy in the summer. The powdery sand and dunes stretch for 5km and it has won and maintained its Blue Flag for many years now.

This is a good place for kids to swim as there is a gradual depth to the water. When it gets too breezy on Brittas head to the southern end as there is a smaller, more sheltered beach. The only drawback here is that you have to pay for the carpark.

Whilst you are in the area, take a road trip along the 72km Michael Collins Drive to discover the fantastic landscape behind some of Hollywood best movies including Braveheart, Angela’s Ashes and, of course, Michael Collins.

READ: 5 tips to keep your cool behind the wheel in this hot weather >

READ: 7 of the best summer motoring events for an unforgettable high-octane holiday >

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