Portstewart Strand is a sandy, two-mile long beach in Portstewart, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on the northern Atlantic Ocean coast of the island of Ireland. It is situated between the popular seaside resort of Portstewart and the mouth of the River Bann, known as the Barmouth and is one of the top 10 visitor attractions in Northern Ireland. Facilities It is owned and managed by the National Trust and is a Blue Flag beach in recognition of high standards of beach management and water quality. Cars can be brought onto the beach and parked on the strand. When the National Trust purchased the beach in 1980, it allowed this long-standing tradition to continue. The beach attracts up to 180,000 visitors every year. All activities including watersports, are zoned. On 28 April 2008, the National Trust opened a new visitor facility at the beach following a £450,000 investment, part-funded through the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. Conservation The site is also an important nature conservation area and is officially designated an Area of Special Scientific Interest and a proposed Special Area of Conservation. It has an important dune system (180 acres) formed about 6,000 years ago and reaches heights of up to 30 metres (100ft). Neolithic pottery and implements have been found on the site, as well as bronze pins and Roman jewellery, indicating a long history of human habitation. In 2000, the dune system was included in the Bann Estuary Area of Special Scientific Interest, due to the rare and fragile habitats and wildlife that it supports. Many species of butterflies and orchids, including the bee orchid, have been recorded, and can be viewed from waymarked trails.