Portstewart Strand, Downhill Beach & Benone Strand on the North Coast are all suitable for driving on. Although this can be fun, it does require a certain set of skills as driving on sand is surprisingly different from tarmac. Safety of the driver, passengers and vehicle should remain prominent at all times.


  • Be mindful of pedestrians, animals and other vehicles by keeping your distance
  • Drive on the left side of other vehicles
  • Use indicators
  • Drive slowly within the beach speed limit
  • Wear seat belts
  • Know your vehicle’s capabilities as often 4-wheel drive is necessary
  • Soft sand driving requires a steady pace and low gears
  • Lower tyre pressure up to 10-15 PSI to increase surface area and traction for loose dry sand, re-inflate tyres for hard sand and surfaces
  • Park sideways to moving traffic for easy visibility
  • Know the tides, drive 2 hours either side of low tide on dark flat sand to avoid getting bogged down
  • Increase speed gradually
  • Stop by slowing down and allow the traction of the sand to stop the vehicle
  • Be prepared with tow ropes, shovel, first aid kit, tyre pressure gauge, material for traction and vehicle rescue service contacts
  • Know the beach, as not all are suitable for driving on
  • Wash away salt water which can be extremely corrosive on vehicle bodywork

Do not:

  • Overload the vehicle
  • Turn suddenly
  • Consume alcohol and drive
  • Drive on the beach when tired
  • Increase speed rapidly
  • Brake suddenly
  • Drive erratically
  • Do not park near the shoreline as sand can shift quickly leaving an unsafe surface to hold the weight of the car
  • Do not drive in the water as the surface beneath can be unpredictable and unsafe


  1. Stay calm
  2. Think through the situation clearly
  3. Lighten the vehicles load, remove passengers from car to a safe place
  4. Gain traction slowly by accelerating lightly, avoid stirring up the sand and digging the car deeper. Manual cars should be put in high gear with slow clutch release, automatic cars should be put in lower gear
  5. If the above does not work, use the shovel or some other means to remove sand from front of tyres
  6. Lay something that will create traction such as a mat, coat, cardboard, tree branches at the front of the tyres, move forward slowly onto whatever material has been used, once traction is gained slowly drive out
  7. If this does not work, passengers can push the car
  8. If the car remains stuck repeat the process from step 6
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