The Best Beaches in Scotland
It’s summer time (yes, here in SCOTLAND too)! Summer officially kicks off on the 20th of June, right after the summer solstice – the longest day of the year. And boy is it long! So long in fact that a buddying photographer (yours truly) can attempt to do a sunset and a sunrise shoot all in one go given that up here it doesn’t really get that dark and the “night” only lasts a couple of hours! A great way to spend a night on top of a mountain but more on that later!
What is the first thing one thinks of when it comes to summer? The beach of course!
You’d think “Hold on! What does that have anything to do with Scotland? Isn’t that a place of cold murky days, thick tartan, bleak hills and flowing rivers of whiskey?”
You’d be forgiven for thinking that because a lot of the time that is true. However, like with most great things, there are exceptions to the rule, and Scotland is no.. exception! You see, Scotland is a fantastic place if you fancy seeing some of the most beautiful beaches in the world! Below, I’ll illustrate some of the many beaches we’ve visited throughout the years and some that we have yet to explore. Hopefully it will give you a bit of inspiration to plan your next trip to Scotland and add one or two beaches on the itinerary! They are in no particular order but I’ll let you know what I think is the best one of all!
Traigh Bhan Nam Monach
Translating to White Sand of the Monks, this beach is my favourite on the beautiful small isle of Iona. Iona is a tiny island situated just a very short ferry ride away from the south west of Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides. It’s only 3 miles long and 1.5 wide and home to 120 permanent residents. With this in mind, it’s like a little gem off the west coast of Scotland as the beaches here are some of the most spectacular we’ve ever seen.
In this writer’s humble opinion, Traigh Bhan is the prettiest of them all. It’s situated on the North end of the isle and takes about half an hour to get to it from the ferry terminal. No matter what time of the year, as long as it’s sunny, you could be forgiven to think you are on a tropical island when on this beach. I’ve written more in depth about a trip to Mull and Ioana as a 3 part series. Check them out here!
Located on the North West Coast of Scotland, close to Lossiemouth, Covesea Beach is one of the many beaches on that coast which offers miles and miles of sand and tranquillity. There’s also a nice little lighthouse on the beach providing a place of interest. The beach is also home to a caravan/camping site where you can rent out small caravans for your holiday.
Other than that, there’s not much to say other than enjoy it if you ever decide to visit!
Going back to the west coast again, on one of the most popular islands in Scotland, Coral Beach is probably one of the more unique beaches on this list. As its name suggests, the surface of the beach is covered in ground up bits of coral-like seaweed that the sea has washed up over the centuries and it makes for an interesting walk or picnic (if the weather permits). Unlike the beaches mentioned above, this one can be quite hostile most of the time as even in nice summer weather, the wind can blow quite strongly! It is a wonderful place non the less and is only a 10 minute drive from Dunvegan Castle on Isle of Skye. I’ve written more about the Isle of Skye here!
Situated in Ayrshire, Irvine beach is one of the many popular beaches on the South West Coast of Scotland. It’s a wonderful beach, perfect during those warm summer days when you just want to sun bathe, relax and do an occasional dip in the water. What I like about this beach (and most beaches around this area) is that the water is quite shallow for quite a long way into the sea and when the water is calm it makes for a fantastic place to try out swimming!
A top tip I can give you while in Irvine is visit Vanilla Joe’s for some of the best ice cream you can get in Scotland. If you don’t want to take my word for it, check out the ques outside the shop every summer evening and you’ll know why!
Yellow Craig Beach
Are you just in Edinburgh and Portobello isn’t exotic enough for you? Well have no fear! Only a quick car trip towards North Berwick you’ll fine Yellow Craig Beach, a popular place for East Coasters during the hot summer months! This is another fantastic place to do typical beach related activities and given how sometimes the weather patterns work in Scotland, it’s probably hotter and nicer that the beaches on the West Coast some of the time!
Another beach on the East Coast, further down the coast from Yellow Craig, Seacliff is another fantastic place to spend those hot summer days, or at least as hot as they get here in Scotland! Not much to say other than you defo need a car for this one and HAVE £1 coins ready to pay at the gate to enter. Last time we were there it cost £3 for the day and the barrier only accepted coins and didn’t give change. Please mind you don’t get a ticket either so if you leave the beach and want to come back (in the car that is) you’ll have to pay again!
Small inconveniences though for an amazing, more secluded beach!
Still on the East Coast, this time further up north, past Aberdeen, lies Rattray Head and the popular lighthouse which is out at sea when the tide is in!
Rattray is one of the wildest and most isolated places on the Eastern Coast and makes for a brilliant walk. Not much of a sun bathe and chill this one but definitely a really beautiful place, well worth experiencing! If the beach is not good enough for you, there are also 100ft high sand dunes waiting to be explored just before the beach!
This is my little secret but I feel like it’s time I shared it with the world! Further down south from Irvine, there’s a little known holiday park called Croyburnfoot! Right next to it is, in my opinion, the best beach in Scotland for sunbathing and for playing in the sand/sea (when it’s warm enough of course).
Just like Irvine Beach, it’s immense and you will never be hard pressed to find a place for your towel. In fact, most days, it’s quite quiet so it makes for quite a relaxing experience! Walk for 20 minutes south along the coast and you’ll be able to see Culzean Castle too! I cannot recommend this place enough!
Just south of Mallaig, Camusdarach Beach has probably the best views a beach can have in Scotland. White sands, crystal clear water, NOT WINDY and the brilliant views of the Cuillins of Skye, the rugged edges of Rum and Eig, Camusdarach I think combines what is most beautiful about the scenery in Scotland!
Sandwood Bay Beach
Saved the best for last! For a long time this has been on my bucket list as one of my all time dream places to visit in Scotland!
It’s located on the North Coast 500 route in Kinlochbervie and it’s been voted as one of the most beautiful beaches in Britain! What really attracted me to this beach is how remote it is! It can take up to 2.5 hours to walk to it from Kinlochbervie (unless you pack a bicycle in your car). Add to that some really unpredictable weather and arriving at Sandwood Bay beach can make it feel like a real accomplishment.
I cannot find words to describe how beautiful this place is. It’s wild, visceral and jaw dropping gorgeous in any conditions. When you are there you will feel free!
Beaches that I would Like to Visit
Tiree is another wee isle on the Inner Hebrides and is where you can experience the mildest weather in Scotland! My friends at Visit Tiree have a wonderful website about it and I encourage you to check it out! I cannot wait to visit this place as it has amazing beaches, wildlife and people!
Unsurprisingly, another Hebridean island on this list but you cannot blame me! Isle of Harris is another item on my bucket list, especially for Luskentyre Beach which has bewitched me ever since I saw a photo of it! I cannot wait to visit!
I hope you have enjoyed this wee read and hope it has provided some inspiration for some of the best beaches around Scotland that you can visit.
There are hundreds more that I haven’t seen yet which I am sure are just as beautiful as the ones mentioned here and I cannot wait to show them to you when I get there!
If you’ve made it this far down, I would be really grateful to hear your thoughts in the comments section down below!
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