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Whilst beaches tend to be visited most in the summer months, they are actually an all-year-round destination that can be enjoyed at any time of the year.
Scotland has many beautiful beaches caressing its coastline ranging from rugged shingly beaches to pure-white sandy beaches with crystal-clear waters. No beach is the same here making your tour of Scottish beaches an adventure in itself. Whether you prefer a harbour beach, a seaside town beach, a beach with lots of parking, a dog-friendly beach or a remote beach that is harder to find, there are lots of sandy playgrounds to pick from.
Head to the east coast where you will find wide stretches of sand looking out to miles of ocean, backed by deep sand dunes which offer lovely picnic spots with perfect shelter from wind. Across the north coast, you will come across some real hidden gems like one known as the ‘Secret Beach’ along from Nairn and Ardersier where you can catch sight of dolphins playing in the water. West-coast Scotland impresses with hidden coves and dramatic craggy cliffs coupled with scenic backdrops of Skye, Mull and the Outer Hebrides. A day spent on the beach in Scotland will only inspire you to see more.
Here are some of what we feel are the best beaches in Scotland…
Luskentyre Sands – Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides
If you are looking to get away to the wilderness but have a taste of sand and sea, Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris is one to put on the wish-list. If you hit a sunny day, the area could be mistaken for somewhere more tropical like Fiji or Greece with its crystal-clear waters and the finest white sand. Located over to the west of the island, it has gorgeous views over to the small island of Taransay which, if you have a canoe, you could get to easily for an explore. You could spend a whole day here playing in the sea, building sandcastles, nature spotting and relaxing with that amazing view.
Nature-wise, it is common to spot seals, dolphins, otters and sea eagles from Luskentyre Beach, so remember to take your binoculars! For a full day exploring, start the morning off with a coastal drive around the Isle of Harris; ‘The Golden Road’ only takes a couple of hours to drive and it takes you through all of the craggy and rocky landscape that Harris is so famous for. For more on Harris, read our guide to the island today.
Stay close by: Taigh Ailean, sleeps 6, Manish
St Cyrus Beach – Angus, east coast
St Cyrus beach is a 3-mile-long beach set on the east coast of Scotland, south of Aberdeen, starting at the small village of St Cyrus and ending at the mouth of the North Esk River. This welcoming beach is part of the National Nature Reserve and many come here to enjoy its spacious setting and all the freedom and wildlife that comes with it.
Hours can be spent going on long walks beside the sea, admiring the magnificent cliffs and playing in the waves and, with it being such a wide beach, it is easy to find a quiet spot for a game of beach volleyball or cricket. The kids will enjoy discovering starfish, minnows and crabs in the rock pools and finding out all about the ocean, as well as building sandcastles and sculptures for you to admire. There is on-site parking and public toilets as well as a visitor centre where you can pick up an ice cream on a hot day!
Stay close by: The Ice House, sleeps 6. St Cyrus, Angus.
Camusdarach Beach – Morar, west coast
This stunning beach sits peacefully in one of the most scenic parts of the Scottish Highlands, between Arisaig and Mallaig on the Road to the Isles. With great views over to Eigg, Rum and Skye, this is a magical spot to come and spend some of your much-deserved free time. It is easy to get to, being under an hour away from Fort William.
Camusdarach Beach is well known for the fantastic wildlife you can see here; you might be lucky and see an otter playing in the shallow water or see a seal or two, and from time to time you can see dolphins and porpoises in the bay. If you venture out in a boat you might also see various different species of whales or even basking sharks – which some people might like, but others might not! Back on dry land, there are plenty of lovely Highland cows in the fields and you might well see red deer and pine martens. There is never a dull moment on this beach! For more on this part of Scotland check out our guide to the west coast today.
Stay close by: Taigh na Coille, sleeps 10, Roshven.
Langamull Beach – Isle of Mull
This is one of Mull’s best-kept secrets. The island sits off the west coast of Scotland and can be easily reached by ferry from Oban. When on the island, make sure this is your first stop on a sunny day – you won’t regret it! Boasting beautifully soft white-shell sand and glistening blue waters, you can spend hours here enjoying the outstanding scenery and the freshest of Scottish air. The views out over to Eigg and Rum are some of the best in the country, so the camera will no doubt always be out!
This is the kind of beach you go to when you want to get away from it all. As it is more secluded and takes about a 1-mile walk to get there, it is not as busy as some of the other beaches in Scotland – which might be just what you need. Lay your towel down and enjoy some peace and quiet, take a dip in the sea if you are feeling brave and let the kids play for hours.
Stay close by: Killunaig Church House, sleeps 10, Isle of Mull.
Mellon Udrigle – Wester Ross, Highlands
This is another hidden gem on the west coast of Scotland which is off the beaten track and more secluded than some others. With clear, turquoise water and clean white sand, the beach is spectacular in itself without its stunning location. It can be easily located from the likes of Gairloch, Poolewe and Ullapool by taking a small coastal road (A832) which has views over to Gruinard Island. The views out across this white sandy beach are immense with stretches of clear blue ocean ahead of you and the west-coast mountains in the distance.
Being a wild beach, there are no facilities or water sports centres, but if you are people of adventure you can come with your own kit and canoe or kayak out into the ocean. The coastline around here offers lots of wildlife to spot including many sea birds, otters, seals and – if you get out deep enough – basking sharks and whales. This is the perfect spot to come and unwind during your action-packed trip to the Highlands. To read more about what to do in the Highlands check out our helpful guide today.
Stay close by: The Potager, sleeps 2, Poolewe.
Are you taking the dog with you on your next holiday to Scotland? For ideas on where to take them, check out our guide to dog-friendly beaches in Scotland.
Stay in a self-catering coastal cottage in Scotland
We hope you have enjoyed discovering these amazing Scottish beaches and that they have made their way on to the to-do list for your next break to Scotland. Although we have featured some great holiday accommodation throughout, we also have a full collection of coastal cottages which can act as great bases for explorations all along Scotland’s coastline.
Whether you are looking to get away with your family, friends or one special person, we have a great selection ranging from spacious family-friendly homes to quirky cottages for two in the wilderness. Some are right on the beach, some have their own boats and some are in elevated positions with panoramic ocean views. Browse the full collection today.