Now that we're officially experiencing what the rest of the world would describe as a 'summer', (you know, one where you don't need the electric blanket in July, where the sun shines for more than a half hour each day and where the temperature goes right up into double digits) we can actually make real plans to head for the beach. Whether you're looking for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the capital city, or are willing to travel that bit further to the South East or West of Ireland where the beaches are truly breathtaking, this Emerald Isle boasts some of the best Blue Flag beaches in the world. Here we take a gander at a few of our faves, more of which you'll find info on over at Discover Ireland.

1. Curracloe in Wexford
Perfect for all of the family, Curracloe's white sandy beach is a great safe option for swimming. It earned itself the international Blue Flag award for 2014. There's a trained lifeguard on duty more often than not and if swimming isn't your thing, there's also a nature trail which runs through the dunes. Marvellous.

2. Ballybunion in North Kerry
Another Blue flag winner, Ballybunion hits the spot as it's within walking distance from the lovely town of ballybunion. Funnily enough, it's also known as Ladies Beach because the women and the kids used to bathe on a separate stretch of sand to the men. Lots of nooks and crannies worth exploring here too when the sea is at low tide. Not a bit of litter in site.

3. Balbriggan in Dublin
This one's fairly handy for the city slickers among us. On a good day the Irish Sea is worth the views and this one's got lots of gorgeous walking trails behind it too. Leave the car at home and hop on the train for the day. Another beach who can stand proud with its Blue Flag.

4. Inchydoney in Cork
This one will suit the more adventurous types. Inchydoney has long been a favourite destination for surfing in Ireland. Not only that but it boasts a surfing school too so if you're just starting out, you don't need to brave the waves alone. Mere kilometres from the lovely town of Inchydoney, this beach is tended to by a lifeguard during bathing season and overlooked by lots of gorgeous dunes. Well worth the trip down south.

5. Killiney, Dublin.
It's not enormous but the beach at Killiney promises the best views of Dublin from Bray to Sorrento point you'll ever get in the capital. On a sunny day, you'd be forgiven for forgetting you're in Ireland, it feels like the French Riviera. This one's a stony beach but as it drops off quite quickly into the water, it's perfect for a quick dip and well supported by local infrastructure.

No excuses now, get thee to the nearest Blue Flag beach!