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Ireland's Top 10 beaches for 2020: No.1 'is like being on a desert island'

Winner: Curracloe, Co Wexford

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Curracloe, Co Wexford

Curracloe, Co Wexford

Getty Images/Lonely Planet Image

Ireland’s Favourite Beach: Curracloe, Co Wexford. Sinead Ryan, Gerry Forde, Flavio Zappacosta from The Italian National Tourist Board, Cllr Mary Farrell, Hugh Maguire, Billy Byrne and Pól Ó Conghaile at the Irish Independent Reader Travel Awards 2020. Photograph: Fran Veale

Ireland’s Favourite Beach: Curracloe, Co Wexford. Sinead Ryan, Gerry Forde, Flavio Zappacosta from The Italian National Tourist Board, Cllr Mary Farrell, Hugh Maguire, Billy Byrne and Pól Ó Conghaile at the Irish Independent Reader Travel Awards 2020. Photograph: Fran Veale

Curracloe beach, Co. Wexford

Curracloe beach, Co. Wexford

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Curracloe, Co Wexford

What makes a great beach?

Good looks, sure. But reader nominations this year also highlighted several less obvious factors - including tradition, accessibility, nostalgia and great facilities. A good beach can't just look good, it needs to be user-friendly to create great memories.

Curracloe in Co Wexford, named Ireland's Favourite Beach in our Reader Travel Awards 2020, has all of the above.

A Blue Flag beach stretching over 10km along the southeast coast, this is "what a beach is all about", you said. Using words like "unspoilt", "clean" and "pristine", this is a "well-maintained and easy to get to" place, you told us, with "lots of room for fun and games" and "loads of space even when busy".

Curracloe is "where memories are made", you said. "You could be abroad on a fine day." The beach is close to Wexford town, has ample parking, public loos and a playground, and the Surf Shack is a friendly business offering not only surf lessons, but barista coffee, stone-baked pizzas and Featherbed Farm ice cream in summer.

FINALISTS: Ireland's Top 10 beaches for 2020

  1. Curracloe, Co Wexford
  2. Inch, Co Kerry
  3. Brittas Bay, Co Wicklow
  4. Inchydoney, Co Cork
  5. Portmarnock, Co Dublin
  6. Lahinch, Co Clare
  7. Tramore, Co Waterford
  8. Ballybunion, Co Kerry
  9. Enniscrone, Co Sligo
  10. Salthill, Co Galway

"We only discovered Curracloe beach last year on a weekend trip to Wexford," one reader wrote. "It was February, so not exactly beach weather, but it was one of the highlights of our visit. I couldn't believe how long and beautiful the beach is. It just goes on and on, perfect for a long walk and to blow away the cobwebs. The kids loved running up and down the dunes, and it was nice to see how spotless it was too. We'll definitely be looking to visit again when it's warmer and sunny."

Locals hummed about the year-round appeal of a beach with a surprising stroll through the Raven Nature Reserve at its southern end - a forested sand spit where walkers might see red squirrels, pine martins and wintering geese. "Winter or summer, it's always good for a beautiful walk," you told us. Seals can be seen offshore, too.

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Curracloe beach, Co. Wexford

Curracloe beach, Co. Wexford

Put it all together with rolling, grass-topped dunes and white sand, and you have the perfect all-rounder.

"It's like being on a desert island," as one reader put it. Curracloe "transports you to north of France".

See visitwexford.ie for more.

NB: The Irish Independent Reader Travel Awards 2020 are sponsored by Iarnród Eireann. Read the full list of winners here and share on social using the hashtag #indotravelawards.

Trá Mór (Tramore) feels like a step back in time, and you can walk there and back in less than two hours, says Pól Ó Conghaile.

Irish Independent