Musement takes a look at the shores that edge the UK’s northernmost country to share ten of the best beaches in Scotland.
The UK’s northernmost country is famous for its incredible landscapes, and its coastlines are no exception where water as blue as the Caribbean laps onto powdery white-sand shores. Whether you’re braving the August festivals in Edinburgh or traveling just because, here’s a look at ten of the most gorgeous beaches in Scotland.
1. Calgary Bay, Isle of Mull
Peaceful Calgary Bay on the Isle of Mull is sheltered by steep hills covered in machair grass. This natural cove has white sand beaches that arc along the bay. Visitors can park in the car park and follow the path over the dunes to the beach. Caravanners and tent campers are able to spend the night at no cost in the bay’s “wild camping” area while enjoying access to picnic tables, a public toilet, and a stunning view.
2. Langamull Beach, Isle of Mull
Take a walk on the wild side at Langamull Beach. Nature lovers will enjoy crabbing in the rock pools, discovering the hidden coves, and watching sheep and cattle graze nearby. The waters in the bay are perfect for swimming as they’re sheltered from the breeze by the rock formations on either side of the beach. It’s a bit of a walk from the car park between Dervaig and Calgary to the beach itself, but it’s well worth it for the spectacular scenery.
3. Sandwood Bay, North Highlands
Known for its pristine pink sand beaches that stretch for more than a mile along the North Atlantic, Sandwood Bay is protected and preserved by the John Muir Trust, a Scottish conservation charity. The bay is romanticized in legends about mermaids and shipwrecks and can be only be accessed along a route that is said to be one of the best walks in Scotland. Visitors should park at the car park in the village of Blairmore and don hiking boots for the trek to the beach.
4. Luskentyre Sands, Isle of Harris
This award-winning beach in the Outer Hebrides can be reached by biking or hiking three miles along a trail that leads from Harris’s main road. Sweeping vistas and the striking contrast between the turquoise sea and the white sand makes the Luskentrye Sands an Instagrammer’s dream destination. With rolling dunes at your back and the island of Taransay in the foreground, you’ll be surrounded by unimaginable beauty.
5. Uyea, Shetland
This wild and wondrous beach connects Shetland’s main island to the uninhabited island of Uyea during low tide. Although it can be somewhat difficult to reach the sand bar, those who prove themselves worthy of the challenge are rewarded with the stereophonic sound of waves crashing on the shore and the sight of seals playing in the surf at certain times of the year.
6. Achmelvich, Sutherland
Achmelvich Beach is a tourist hotspot in the Highlands with opportunities for coasteering, water-skiing, windsurfing, and fishing. Aquatic animals and birds of prey attract birders and biologists to the area. Overnight guests can stay in one of two camping and caravan sites or in the youth hostel near the car park and take advantage of the laundromat, convenience store, and fish and chip shop.
7. Traigh Lar, Isle of Harris
Traigh Lar Beach on the Isle of Harris looks out over Taransay where the BBC’s “Castaway 2000” reality show was filmed. Beachgoers can easily reach the sandy shoreline from the main road. If you walk along the shore to the north end of the beach, you’ll find a path that leads uphill to Clach Mhic Leoid, a standing stone said to have been erected by the MacLeod clan as a claim to the land.
8. The Monks, Iona
Despite its gruesome history as the site of a Viking massacre in 986 AD, Traigh Bhan Nam Monach, or the White Strand of the Monks, is now a serene stretch of sand near Iona Abbey on Scotland’s west coast. A rocky shoreline gives way to the white sands that lie between it and the sparkling blue waters of the Atlantic. Visitors to Iona can stop by the Argyll Hotel for a locally sourced picnic lunch that can be eaten on the beach while enjoying a panoramic view of the Isle of Mull.
9. Mellon Udrigle, Wester Ross
Though Mellon Udrigle is a bit off the beaten path, it is popular with couples and families who cross the boardwalk from the car park to enjoy a day on the white sands along the bay. Kayakers paddle up and down the shoreline admiring the craggy coast while swimmers and bodyboarders dive into the cool waters for a refreshing dip in the sea.
10. Elie Harbour Beach, Fife
This beach in the coastal town of Elie is a family favorite for its shallow waters, aquatic activities, and first-rate facilities. Parents with young children will appreciate easy access to public toilets, cafés that serve food throughout the day, and seasonal lifeguards that watch over swimmers in the harbor. At low tide, beachgoers can walk along the golden sands that connect Elie Harbour Beach to its sister beach in Earlsferry.