Scotland Beaches – Best of the Islands
Scotland Beaches and specifically scottish island beaches, are some of the best in the UK and even in Europe. From the wide sweeping sands of Calgary Bay on Mull and Kiloran Bay on Colonsay to the azure blue caribbean-esque beaches of Harris and Eriskay. There are also some excellent beaches on Orkney and Shetland – especially the islands of Sanday and Stronsay in Orkney and Yell and Unst in Shetland.
Even on a summers day, when it is a little warmer and there is little wind, a lot of the beaches are still incredibly quiet. It is easy to find your own little stretch of paradise. There have been many occasions where I have sat alone on a deserted island beach and just soaked up the sun for a blissful hour or two.
There are far too many beaches around the scottish islands to go through them all, so what I have done is compiled a list of my favourite beaches from around the scottish islands.
There are some fantastic beaches on the island of Berneray, which is connected to North Uist by a causeway. West Beach and East Beach (also known as Ruisigearraidh Beach) are two stunning beaches and are easily located as Berneray is a small island. West Beach is around 3 miles long with crystal clear white sand and looks out to the nearby island of Pabbay and the open Atlantic. It is such a beautiful beach that the Thai tourist board used a picture of it to promote holidays in Thailand! Perched close to East Beach is the Gatliff Hostel, with two beautiful white-washed cottages aligned on the shore. It is possibly the nicest Hostel location in the whole of the Scottish Islands and it is relatively cheap to stay there.
Eriskay, for such a small island, has some outstanding beaches. The island is located between the isles of Barra and South Uist in the Outer Hebrides and is a hidden gem. Prince’s Beach is possibly Scotland’s most historic beach. It was here that Prince Charles Edward Stewart (Bonne Prince Charlie), aged 24, landed with a few companions on 23rd July 1745, after an 18 day voyage from France. There is also Am Baile beach and a lovely beach near the causeway. Eriskay is a ‘must’ for any visit to the Outer Hebrides. It is one of my favourite islands and if you catch it on a sunny day, you will find it very difficultto leave.
Harris is renowned for it’s beaches, which are all on the west coast of the island, as the east coast has what has been described as a ‘lunar landscape’ of jagged boulders and is pockmarked with rockpools. The standout beaches on Harris are at Borve Mor, Nisabost, Traigh Melein, Horgabost, Huisinis, Luskentyre, Scarista and Seilebost. There are so many to choose from!
If fantastic beaches are one of the things that you look for in a holiday, then look no further than Harris. It has more outstanding beaches than any other scottish island. Of all the islands that I have visited, overall, Harris has the best beaches. Believe me, there is a lot of competition!
Tiree is an island that has great weather and great windsurfing. The islands beaches are possibly the finest in the Inner Hebrides. Tiree has a mild climate, with some of the highest levels of sunshine recorded anywhere in the British Isles. The island enjoys a relatively high number of total hours of sunshine during the late spring and early summer compared to the average for the United Kingdom.
There are beautiful beaches at Gott Bay, Balephuil Bay, Balephitrish Bay, Crossapol Bay and Hough Bay as well as many others dotted around the coastline. The beach at Gott Bay is particularly impressive. It is a huge flat, sandy bay and it is a very popular windsurfing spot for families. It is one of the biggest beaches I have seen throughout the scottish islands.
Coll is a quiet island and prides itself on it’s stress-free, relaxing environment. Although some of the beaches on Coll are not as easily accessible as on neighbouring Tiree, they are well worth seeking out. The population of Coll is around 100 and it in only a 3 hour ferry journey from Oban.
Towards the south of the island are Feall Bay and Crossapol Bay beaches and there are some lovely beaches in the North such as Cliad, Gallanach and Torasaton. If you want to relax on unspoilt, beautiful beaches in quiet, peaceful surroundings, then Coll is the island for you.
The Isle of Colonsay has some glorious beaches including Balnahard Bay, Cable Bay and possibly the best beach in the Inner Hebrides, Kiloran Bay. Kiloran Bay is a wide, sweeping, silver-white sand beach, located in the north of the island. It is one of the main tourist attractions on the island. Colonsay is only a 2 hour ferry from Oban and is often one of the sunniest places in Scotland. Accommodation is scarce in the summer, so it is best to book in advance to visit the island.
Unst is the most northerly island in Britain and is located within the Shetland Islands. It has some of the best beaches in Shetland including Lundwick and Sandwick beaches in the south of the island and Burrafirth, Norwick and Skaw Beaches in the North. Norwick Beach is partly pebble and partly sandy. It is colourful with wildflowers and often has boats drawn up on the sand. Skaw Beach is the northern-most beach in Britain and has fine soft, yellow sand.
Sanday is famed for having some of the best beaches in the Orkney Islands. The islands name comes from the long sandy beaches that are located around many of its long bays. There are lots of excellent beaches on Sanday such as at Backaskaill Bay, Bay of Newark and Scuthrie Bay. Of all the islands I have visited around Orkney, Sanday has the best beaches. They are easily accessible and are usually quiet, however, wind can sometimes be a factor as Sanday is relatively low-lying.
There are other islands such as Lewis, South Uist, Barra, Westray, Fetlar, Eigg, Muck and Mull to name a few, that have some superb beaches. In fact, it would be easier to tell you the islands that do not have any good beaches! These fantastic beaches are yet another excuse to visit the scottish islands. To make the most of the beaches, try to visit between May and September, as these are the warmest months. Even then, you may still find that you have the beach all to yourself. If you do, there is nothing like it. It is absolute bliss.
To see more beaches from around the scottish islands, have a look at this DVD box set from Amazon called ‘Islands of Scotland’ (see below). Over six distinct journeys, ‘Islands of Scotland’ marvels at the staggering beauty of Scotlands islands from the air, including several of the beaches highlighted above.