England Ireland Find Havens
England Ireland Find Routes

Keem Bay situated on Achill Island to the east of the Achill Head and to the northwest of Clare Island, in Co. Mayo on the west coast of Ireland features a beautiful sandy beach. Vessels may find temporary anchorage here in very fine weather, but the head of the bay is shallow, and swell can curl into the bay making for an uncomfortable stay. Access is straightforward but it really is only a place to stop to break up a longer passage.

Be the first
to comment
Keyfacts for Keem Bay
Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the area

No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Note: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
10 metres (32.81 feet).

4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
2 stars: Exposed; unattended vessels should be watched from the shore and a comfortable overnight stay is unlikely.

Last modified
May 30th 2017


An exposed location with straightforward access.

Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the area

No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationAnchoring locationScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinity

Note: strong tides or currents in the area that require consideration

Position and approaches
Expand to new tab or fullscreen

Haven position

53° 57.865' N, 010° 10.812' W

This is the position of the anchorage.

What is the initial fix?

The following Achill Island initial fix. will set up a final approach:
53° 55.296' N, 010° 14.151' W
In the North Atlantic Ocean midway between Achill Head and Bills Rocks.

Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to Keem Bay for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Keel Bay - 2.9 nautical miles E
  2. Blacksod Pier - 9.2 nautical miles NNE
  3. Inishkea Island South - 9.4 nautical miles N
  4. Elly Bay - 12.3 nautical miles NNE
  5. Clare Island - 12.8 nautical miles SE
  6. Inishturk - 15.9 nautical miles SSE
  7. Frenchport (Portnafrankagh) - 16.9 nautical miles NNE
  8. Broadhaven Bay - 20.1 nautical miles NNE
  9. Bofin Harbour - 21.2 nautical miles S
  10. Rosmoney (Collan More Harbour) - 21.3 nautical miles ESE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Keel Bay - 2.9 miles E
  2. Blacksod Pier - 9.2 miles NNE
  3. Inishkea Island South - 9.4 miles N
  4. Elly Bay - 12.3 miles NNE
  5. Clare Island - 12.8 miles SE
  6. Inishturk - 15.9 miles SSE
  7. Frenchport (Portnafrankagh) - 16.9 miles NNE
  8. Broadhaven Bay - 20.1 miles NNE
  9. Bofin Harbour - 21.2 miles S
  10. Rosmoney (Collan More Harbour) - 21.3 miles ESE
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

Resources search

Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

Expand to new tab or fullscreen

How to get in?
Route location The 'Slyne Head to Erris Head' coastal description provides approach information to the suggested initial fix. Vessels approaching from the south should select the northbound Route location sequenced description; vessels approaching from the north should select the southbound Route location sequence; western approaches may use either description.

Achill Island, Irish : Acaill, Oilean Acla, is situated on the north side of the approaches to Clew Bay in County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland. Achill is the largest island off the coast of Ireland being approximately 11.5 miles wide and 9 miles long and is located to the northwest of Clew Bay and to the south of Blacksod Bay.

A precipitous range of cliffs borders most of Achill's west coast terminating at Achill Head, the highest cliffs in the British Isles, whilst the south coast is rocky, much exposed to the heavy Atlantic swell, and backed by rugged mountains the highest of which Slievemore is on the north of the island.

The east side of the island is connected to the mainland by a swing bridge between the villages of Achill Sound and Polranny on the Corraun Peninsula of County Mayo. The bridge is named after Michael Davitt who was a 19C Irish social campaigner and founder of the National Land League. A bridge was first completed here in 1887 and the latest replacement was opened in 2008.

There are two recognised anchorages for Achill Island, Keem Bay and Keel Bay, both of which are south facing on the south coast of the island.

Keem Bay, Irish : Cuan na Cuime, has a beautiful horseshoe shaped blue flag beach at the head of a valley between the cliffs of Benmore to the west and Croaghan mountain to the east. The anchorage in 15m depth is at the west end of the bay north of Moyteoge Head, and affords good shelter with winds from the west through north to northeast, but note that in fresh northwest winds strong gusts come down the mountain and may cause the anchor to drag. A landing can be made on to a gently sloping beach.

Keel Bay also has a beautiful blue flag beach, Trawmore Strand, which is Achill's best known and most photographed beach and is well regarded as a famous surfing location. It stretches for 3 miles from the village of Keel in the west to the foot of the Minaun cliffs in the east. The anchorage in 15m depth is at the west end of the bay to the northeast of Inishgalloon islet. Landing can be made on the beach or at Gubalennaun Beg quay, Purteen Harbour, a small well sheltered harbour that has a footpath access to the road to Keel village 1 mile away.

There is a further possible temporary anchorage in the north of the island between the village of Doogart and Ridge Point where there is a good beach for a possible landing at the western end under the hotel. Achill Beg island which lies off the southern tip of Achill Island also has a possible anchorage and landing on a lovely sandy beach on its east side.

Why visit here?
An expedition round Achill Island including taking in the beautiful island of Achill Beg is a journey of about 50 miles. From a sailors point of view Achill Island looks huge and menacing, lovely to gaze upon but often hard work to get past. The expedition round Achill Head will always be the pivotal point of the trip and has to be grabbed when conditions allow and with due caution, but it is well worth the effort even if the whole trip takes the best part of three days.

If time permits, Achills stunning landscape and rich history offers visitors a wide range of scenic attractions, beauty spots and places of interest. On the route of the Atlantic Drive, a 25 mile journey of breathtaking scenery, is the Tower at Kildavnet a 15C tower house associated with the O'Malley clan who were once the ruling family of Achill. The Tower is known locally as Grace O'Malley's Castle after the 16C legendary Pirate Queen who ruled the western seaboard. The three storey tower at Kildavnet is one of a series of such strongholds that Grace O'Malley, or Granuaile as she is often referred to, established. The strategic importance of its location at the mouth of Achill Sound and protecting the passage that connects Clew Bay with Blacksod Bay is underlined by the fact that the present day Achill lifeboat station is situated close by it.

The "Deserted Village" of approximately 80 ruined stone cottages near to Dugort at the base of Slievemore mountain in the north of the island is a reminder of how hard times were in the past. For many years people lived in the village renting the cottages and small plots of land from the landowner, and then in 1845 the Famine struck Achill as it did in the rest of Ireland and most of the inhabitants moved to the nearby village of Dooagh which is beside the sea and from which they hoped to be able to feed their families, whilst others emigrated to the mainland. They were never to return and the village became abandoned which is where the name “Deserted Village” comes from.

Keem Bay was traditionally used by local fishermen and is the location of artist Paul Henry's famous 1910 painting “Launching the Curragh” which is on display in the National Gallery of Ireland. Until fairly recently the waters of Keem Bay were home to the basking shark which were hunted and killed by the fishermen directed by spotters situated on the cliffside at Moyteoge Head. The oil of the shark was extracted for export as a fine grade lubricant for the aerospace industry, but this practice has been made illegal.

Achill Beg, Irish : Acaill Bheag meaning Little Achill, is a small island off the southern tip of Achill Island which was inhabited until as recently as 1965 when all the occupants were evacuated and settled either on the main island or on the mainland. A lighthouse on Achill Beg's southern tip was also completed in the same year.

Achill Island has many facilities mainly centred around Achill Sound the main village, and they include a supermarket and other shops, hotels, restaurants, pubs and coffee shops, post offices, doctors, a pharmacy, Garda (police) stations, and taxi services.

What facilities are available?
The majority of the facilities on the island are located at Achill Sound the main village which has a supermarket and ATM machine next to it, a hotel, pub and restaurant, a G.P. surgery and pharmacy, a post office, and a tourist information office.

There is also a hotel, bar and restaurant at Dugort; and at Dooagh there is a grocery shop, a pub, restaurant and a coffee shop with Wi Fi access available for customers; whilst at Keel village there is a good butchers, a pub and a coffee shop.

The island has four taxi services at Achill Sound, Dooagh, Bunnacurry, and Ashleam, and a further G.P. service at Pollagh near Dooagh.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur

The following videos may be useful to help first time visitors familiarise themselves with the rugged beauty of Achill.

The following video presents footage of Keem strand the beach just to the west of Keel Bay.

A photograph is worth a thousand words. We are always looking for bright sunny photographs that show this haven and its identifiable features at its best. If you have some images that we could use please upload them here. All we need to know is how you would like to be credited for your work and a brief description of the image if it is not readily apparent. If you would like us to add a hyperlink from the image that goes back to your site please include the desired link and we will be delighted to that for you.

Add your review or comment:

Please log in to leave a review of this haven.

Please note eOceanic makes no guarantee of the validity of this information, we have not visited this haven and do not have first-hand experience to qualify the data. Although the contributors are vetted by peer review as practised authorities, they are in no way, whatsoever, responsible for the accuracy of their contributions. It is essential that you thoroughly check the accuracy and suitability for your vessel of any waypoints offered in any context plus the precision of your GPS. Any data provided on this page is entirely used at your own risk and you must read our legal page if you view data on this site. Free to use sea charts courtesy of Navionics.