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Things to see and do at White Park Bay

Close view of the rock strewn sandy beach at White Park Bay, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
White park Bay | © National Trust Images/Joe Cornish

Enjoy lazy days and long walks on this beautiful stretch of sand at White Park Bay. Look out for wildlife on the beach and in the sea.

The stunning, sweeping sandy beach of White Park Bay is located in the small village of Ballintoy, County Antrim. The spectacular sandy beach forms a white arc between two headlands on the North Antrim Coast.

Its secluded location means that even on a busy day there is plenty of room for quiet relaxation. The beach is also backed by ancient sand dunes which provide a range of rich habitats for bird and animal life.

The landscape in and around the bay took shape between 200 million and 50 million years ago. Through faults, landslips and raised beaches, fossils like Belemnites, Ammonites and Gryphaea have been revealed. Look out for Elephant Rock - legend claims that this in fact is a woolly mammoth that tried to escape a volcanic eruption.

Water pools around the clusters of rocks that sit by the waters edge at White Park Bay, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Water pools at White Park Bay | © National Trust Images/Joe Cornish

Wildlife at White Park Bay

Life is vibrating in the dunes, from birds to butterflies and moths. Wildflowers in all colours of the rainbow grow here, attracting bees. The dunes are also home to a big population of rabbits. Look out for dolphins or porpoises and watch the seabirds diving into the sea to catch fish.

Cows on the beach

At certain times of the year, you might see cows on the beach. Are these the most photographed cows in Northern Ireland? As they wander along White Park Bay, they end up in lots of people's selfies and, as a result, all over social media. The cows belong to a local farmer who rents out some of the land that the National Trust owns near the beach, and the cows have free reign at certain times of the year to take a dander around.


Otters are often spotted at White Park Bay, which is great news as the presence of otters indicates the water is free from pollution. Otters can fish in both fresh and sea water.


There are at least nine different species of orchids to spot at White Park Bay. They can be colourful like the Pyramidal orchid or just blend into the landscape like the Frog orchid with its green flower.


From April to September the dunes and the grassland are home to several butterfly species. Over a 12 month period our conservation warden counted 17 species in total, from small copper and orange tip to common blue and peacock.


Each spring fulmars patrol the cliffs with their distinctive cry. They come to land to breed, spending the rest of the year at sea. A relation of the albatross, they are easily identified by their stiff winged flight.

Birds to spot at White Park Bay

Sand martin at Souter Lighthouse and the Leas
Sand martin | © National Trust Images/Dougie Holden

Sand martins

The sand martin has a dark brown upper body and paler lower body with a dark stripe across its chest separating the two colours. These small European birds often tunnel into sandy areas to nest and can be spotted from March through to October across the UK.

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Help to record special species

White Park Bay is a valuable site for conservation and there are several bird species to record. Some of these birds, such as ringed plover, fulmar and meadow pipit are Species of Conservation Concern. Others which are at greater risk are called priority species and include grasshopper warbler, song thrush, linnet and skylark. If you spot any of these birds, please contact the team and your sighting will be added to the records.

A close-up of two children building sand castles on the beach at White Park Bay

Discover more at White Park Bay

Find out how to get to White Park Bay, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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