Tralee Bay Nature Reserve is a site of considerable international importance. It covers some 2500 ha (8,000 acres) and stretches from Tralee town westwards to Fenit Harbour and Cloghane, encompassing Tralee Bay, Brandon Bay and the Magharees Peninsula. It includes extensive mudflats at the eastern end, the beaches of Derrymore Island, the sand dunes and lagoons of the Magharees Peninsula. Both the River Lee and Brandon (Owenmore) estuaries feature wide expanses of sheltered intertidal flats, often fringed with saltmarsh vegetation.
Tralee Bay, including Lough Gill near Annascaul, is an internationally important wetland for wintering waders and wildfowl especially for the pale-bellied Brent Geese attracted by the rich eel-grass beds, including Zostera noltii, a species which has a limited distribution in Ireland. Tralee Bay is both a designated Ramsar and Natura 2000 site.
The new Wetlands Centre is designed as a microcosm of the wild nature reserve where visitors are introduced to the fresh and saltwater habitats and little prior knowledge is assumed. A novel feature is a safari boat ride through the recreated reed and freshwater channels.