Usually more famous for its lochs, bagpipes and haggis than its coastal character, Scotland is in fact blessed with some exceptional coastline and stunning sandy beaches that make a beach-holiday in this part of the world uniquely amazing.
Some of Scotland’s beaches are so remote and isolated you’ll feel like you’re on the edge of the world, others absolutely teeming with surfers rugged up in 1-inch wetsuits. Yes really!
Scottish beaches come in many shapes and sizes, but they’re all dramatic and beautiful, and never boring.
What’s more, in a country as ancient as aged whisky, heritage and history is literally beneath your feet and all around. As is the insane amount of marine wildlife in this part of the world: we’re not only talking cute-as-pie puffins and dolphins but also otters, basking sharks, sea eagles, seals and so much more.
We’ve done a little chin-wagging in between reruns of Braveheart and compiled five of the best beaches and coastal sites that will make your jaw drop and consequently demand a visit – once international travel is back on the cards.
1. Rockcliffe Beach, near Dalbeattie
Located at the southern end of the Dumfries and Galloway coastline, Rockcliffe is a picture-perfect Scottish beach, colonised with cute houses, seabirds and cheeky squirrels.
The spectacular hues of pink, orange and purple are probably what attracted the original inhabitants of an ancient citadel, Mote of Mark, built on the top of a local hilltop that dates back over 1500 years.
2. St Ninian’s Isle, Shetland
If you’re lucky, you may spot a lot more than the cute native puffins who regularly visit and nest here on St Ninian’s Isle in Shetland. You may even spot some ancient riches, just like in 1958 when a Pictish treasure hoard was found under the floor of the local chapel.
The Picts were a group of Celtic-speaking people who inhabited this part of Scotland centuries ago. These days, adventure-seekers from all over the country come here for one of the greatest coastal walks in the world.
Indeed, the 6km circular walk on St Ninian’s Isle cuts across one of the finest sand tombolos in Europe. You’ll feel like you’re Jesus walking through the middle of the ocean!
3. Luskentyre Sands, Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides
It’s not the easiest beach to get to, but then, nothing amazing in life is ever easy! The award-winning Luskentyre Sands on the Isle of Harris isn’t just one of the most spectacular beaches in the Outer Hebrides.
With its fine white sand and stunning blue-green water, it’s consistently ranked one of the UK’s best beaches in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards. A small settlement filled with friendly locals and an area of epic sand dunes on the north side of the bay complete the picture. Must do!
4. Fingal’s Cave, Isle of Staffa
Okay, so not technically a beach per se, but Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa is a definite must-visit if you’re interested in exploring Scotland’s coastal character.
Its otherwordly volcanic basalt columns look like the work of some mythical monster, and its natural acoustics, which echoes the smashing waves in hypnotic regularity, make this natural cave an experience to remember.
Over 60 million years old, this cave was created by the same lava flow that created the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, which is direct across the ocean.
5. Ayr Beach, Ayr
Just under an hour’s drive from boisterous Glasgow, Ayr Beach isn’t just great to look at. With its immaculate sandy shores that look out onto the Ailsa Craig and the Isle of Arran, it’s a local stunner.
But it also attracts the locals and those beyond for its family-friendly activities, such as a coastal putting green, play area and crazy golf. For a dose of history, walk further along the beach to find some ancient ruins of Greenan Castle which date back to the 16th century.
So what are you waiting for?
Plan your next beach trip to Scotland when the time is right. You’ll discover so much more that you expect. In fact, you can plan a whole beach holiday in Scotland – who would have thunk it!
Win! Win! Win!
Visit Scotland, in association with Karryon, want to know what sits at the top of your Scottish to-do list for your chance to win one of five prize packs worth $150!
All you need to do is tell us in 25 words or less what crowns your list and you’ll go in the running to receive a $100 Coles Myer Gift Card plus the beautiful cookbook Aran: Recipes and Stories from a Bakery in the Heart of Scotland by Great British Bake Off alum Flora Shedden.
But you’ll need to be quick (and concise – remember, 25 words or less), as the competition is only running from 21 March to 16 April.
Hero image: North Berwick beach; East Lothian. ©VisitScotland / Grant Paterson
This article was brought to you by:
Share this story