East Coast vs West Coast

Today we look at the East and West Coastlines of Scotland – which has the best beaches? We will let you decide…

There is nothing like a good, old rivalry. Within everything, from food to sport, from business to our favourite movies, there are rivalries. Coke vs Pepsi;  McEnroe vs Borg; Harry Potter vs Voldemort; english breakfast vs continental breakfast; Jobs vs Gates – legendary rivalries that have driven the players to even greater success because of the desire of one-upmanship. In Scotland we have Celtic vs Rangers; and my favourite, link vs lorn, because here in Scotland we take our sausages, especially in breakfast rolls, very seriously indeed. As a nation the Scots enjoy a rivalry, think the Calcutta Cup, and even the disparagingly low positive outcome for a good few years now doesn’t dampen the fighting spirit. Hope, and lots of beer, fuels the patriotism to try yet again.

Rivalries – nothing if not a catalystic driver. And they exist too, within Scotland’s iconic landscape. Think Edinburgh Castle vs Stirling Castle; Loch Ness vs Loch Lomond; the Dee vs the Don. So, with July bringing summer and thus full on sunshine (haha), we thought we’d go all East vs West and sum up Scotland’s beaches in full rivalry fashion. Read on to pick a side….

East Coast West Coast - map of beaches Scotland

East Coast Beaches

  1. Findhorn Beach, Moray – Findhorn is an old fishing village with a picturesque harbour and cottages, and with the Findhorn Foundation eco-village nearby, it is a popular place for seaside trip lovers. Findhorn beach, a beautiful beach with Culbin Forest to the west and the sweep of Burghead Bay to the east, marks the Western edge of Burghead Bay. The sandspit makes Findhorn Bay the sheltered haven it is for birds and boats, and seals can often be seen basking in the sun at the top of the bay.
  2. East Beach, Nairn – With the reputation of being one of the sunniest and driest towns in Scotland, Nairn, situated on the delightful Moray coast, also happens to be blessed with two fine beaches. The west beach stretches along the town, but it is the expansive East Beach and its rolling dunes that puts this beach on our east coast list. Stretching out across the Culbin Sands nature reserve for mile after mile, the endless sands and the high cliffs at Nigg are clearly visible on the far side of the Moray Firth, with the trees of Culbin Forest in the distance. 

    East Coast West Coast - Findhorn Bay

    Findhorn Beach. Taken by owners of Monessie

  3. St Cyrus Beach, Aberdeen – In summer, the St Cyrus National Nature Reserve is flooded with colour and life, from blushing flowers to the fluttering of endless butterflies and moths. The views from the beach and at the top of the cliffs are simply stunning and the 3 beautiful miles of white sand run from the small village of St Cyrus to the mouth of the North Esk River. With magnificent cliffs and sand dunes act as a backdrop, St Cyrus is simply one of the most picturesque beaches in the whole of Scotland.

    East Coast West Coast - St Cyrus Beach

    St Cyrus Beach, Aberdeenshire. By Daniel Wilcox

  4. Lunan Bay, Angus – Angus has many beaches and coves along its rugged coast, but with its magnificent sweep of sand, Lunan Bay is arguably the finest. This east-facing beach is backed by sand dunes and framed by low cliffs to the north and south. A cave and arch at its northern end and even a ruined castle, the beach is divided in two by the Lunan Water flowing out over the sands, and is also a fantastic place to go bird watching with several fantastic species to spot strutting the sands!
  5. Sinclair’s Bay/ Reiss Beach, Caithness – The vast sweep of Sinclair’s Bay takes in a wide stretch of the Caithness coast between Wick to the south and Duncansby Head to the north. The beach at the southern end of Sinclairs Bay, known locally as Reiss Beach, is spectacularly beautiful. The long stretch of pure, white sands is uninterrupted apart from a small river dissecting it half way along, and the azure waters of the North Sea will take your breath away. A walk along the endless beach, or amongst the gentle sand-dunes is surprisingly and often empty of people. Seclusion, peace and quiet.

West Coast Beaches

  1. Huisinis Beach, Harris – Although Luskentyre is probably the largest beach on Harris, Huisinis beach, situated at the end of a single track road through some the most glorious scenery anywhere in Scotland, is a truly sublime spot. Huisinish Beach appears in all its glory on approach, the beach usually empty, the white sands enormous and clean. The colours of sea, sky and moorland feel otherworldly, almost unreal. An exceptional place, beautiful and not overcrowded.  somewhere to watch the waves breaking or to explore the beach and the surrounding rocks.
  2. Mellon Udrigle, Wester Ross – Backed by dunes, Mellon Udrigle is an incredibly beautiful piece of coastline in Wester Ross with unparalleled views of the Highlands. The mixture turquoise water, clean white sand and the distant mountain vistas,  including the profile of Suilven, near Lochinver and a glimpse of the tops of Stac Pollaidh and An Teallach, makes this a truly unique spot. Remote, peaceful and breathtaking, with rock pools and clear waters, gentle waves and dunes make this a must see. 

    East Coast West Coast - Husinis, Harris

    Huisinis Beach, Harris. Photo by Daniel Wilcox 

  3. Big Sands, Gairloch – The Big Sand beach faces the uninhabited island of Longa, which acts as a wind barrier for the beach, providing some shelter when the winds pick up! The views are spectacular, of the Isle of Skye and neighbouring village of Torridon as well as stunning and unforgettable sunsets with silhouettes of the Hebrides. The vast sandy surfaces of the beach stretch to the blue, clear waters, and on occasion beach goers are treated to views of the whales who occupy the North Sea. 

    East Coast West Coast - Mellon Udrigle

    Mellon Udrigle, Canoe and ocean. Photo by Jemima Kirkwood 

  4. Machrihanish, Argyll & Bute – All of Scotland into one, magical viewpoint is one way to describe the sight from Machrihanish. Straddling the coast of the eponymous village, Machrihanish is a three-mile stretch of sand with rock pools dotted here and there across it. The views pass the tip of the island of Mull of Kintyre; on a clear day being made up of the faint coast of Ireland and the endless Atlantic. Looking northwest, the islands of Gigha, Islay and Jura all make up the seascape, giving the sense that Machrihanish is almost the very edge of Scotland.
  5. Oldshoremore Beach, Kinlochbervie – Enjoy huge rolling waves, long summer sunsets and tranquil swims at the Oldshoremore beach, or Am Meallan as it is known by the locals. Oldshoremore, on the north west corner of Scotland, is a pristine beach, which becomes extremely vast when the tide is out. Stunning and delightfully quiet a visit here is very peaceful, with sometimes not a sole in sight. Sheltered by cliffs on both sides and backed by sandy dunes, this beach welcomes the rolling north sea up its glorious white sands.

So there you have it, our sunny selection of East and West Coast beaches – which side would you pick?

For holiday self-catering holiday homes set near these beaches visit our website today!

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