The 7 Best beaches in Scotland
When you think of the world’s best beaches, you might not think of Scotland. Places like Jamaica, Hawaii, and the Maldives – probably spring to mind, but Scotland? Not so much. While the lochs, mountain ranges, and castles are much explored, the beaches are a different story. But that makes it all the more special. Many of the best beaches in Scotland are the ones where you have it all to yourself, which isn’t hard in a country with so many gorgeous coastlines and paradisiacal islands. On the other hand, some Scottish beaches are great for their nostalgic family feel.
From the Highlands to the Hebrides – here are seven of the best beaches in Scotland. It’s stiff competition, so narrowing it down to seven was no easy feat. Let us know if we’ve missed any out.
Discover the most stunning Scottish beaches
1. Coldingham Bay, Eyemouth
Quietly nestled along the Berwickshire coast, Coldingham Bay has something special about it. It’s only 1 kilometre long, but the beach has a familial, rural feel that has a cosy warmth to it. Maybe it’s the colourful beach huts, or maybe it’s the houses sitting atop the hill, but there’s a lot to love about Coldingham Bay. Take a climb up Homeli Knoll on the southern end of the beach for gorgeous views across the coastline. Keep walking and you’ll come across a 30-metre-high cliff – Yellow Craig. There are also some pretty dunes just behind the beach – they’re particularly lovely in summer, when the butterflies and wildflowers come out to play.
2. Achmelvich Bay, Sutherland
Tucked away on the rural west coast, Achmelvich Bay is undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Scotland. The sugary white sand is flanked by granite outcrops, creating a paradisiacal cove that’s the perfect summer sun trap. The sea is crystal clear and calm – perfect for swimming. As well as soaking up the supremely refreshing breeze and enjoying the view – you can see the Isles of Harris and Lewis on a clear day – there are tonnes of activities to do. Fishing enthusiasts will love it here, there are plenty of fishing boats in the bay catching cod, haddock, whiting, and more. And it’s perfect for hikers, too. The craggy, rocky landscape makes Achmelvich a fun climbing spot – make your way up to An Farad Bheag and take in the stunning views.
3. Camusdarach Beach, Morar
Camusdarach and its surrounding coves are known as the Silver Sands of Morar – an accurate description of this sparkling beach. The walkway to the bay sets the tone perfectly, sand dunes covered in wind-bent mohair, powdery sand beneath your feet, and the spectacular scenery stretching out before you. Be sure to come on a clear day for views of the Isles of Skye, Rum, and Eigg. The waters are perfectly turquoise and ideal for swimming – on sunny days you’ll be questioning if you’re actually in Scotland. It’s a great place for kayaking, and the kids (and grownups!) will love paddling in the rock pools at low tide.
4. Oldshoremore Beach, Sutherland
Situated in the rural Scottish Highlands, Oldshoremore Beach has all the characteristics of a wild Caribbean-esque Scottish beach that is so loved. Think: soft, clean sand, glittering blue-green sea, backed by grass covered dunes, and something very important – quiet. Despite Oldshoremore being one of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland, it is still dreamily empty. All there is to do is watch the sea peacefully lap onto the shore or take a stroll. Walk down to the southern end of the beach and climb up the rocks for a breathtaking view.
5. West Bay (North Berwick), East Lothian
Despite being less than an hour’s drive from Edinburgh, West Bay has all the feel of a family-friendly Scottish beach. Located by the charming seaside of North Berwick, you might hear locals refer to this beach simply as ‘North Berwick’. The cove is a great place for swimming, walking, picnics, and relaxing on the soft golden sands. If you like birdwatching, bring your binoculars – there are plenty of seabirds around, and the Scottish Seabird Centre is a short walk away. But the best bit about West Bay is the view. The scenery stretches out across the Firth of Forth and to Bass Rock – an island that a colony of gannets call home, making it appear completely white.
6. Gullane Beach, East Lothian
With golden sands, wind-bent tall grass, dunes covered in wildflowers in the summer months, and the North Sea stretching out in front of you, Gullane Beach beautifully captures Scottish wilderness. And surprisingly, it’s less than an hour’s drive from Edinburgh. The soft sands stretch out for three miles – there’s plenty of room to spread out, although it’s not often busy. You’ll probably spot a few kite surfers out on windy days, though. It’s a great day out for families – there are plenty of facilities nearby including public toilets, a shop, cafes, and restaurants. The little ones will love exploring the rock pools, too. Be sure to stick around for sunset, you won’t regret it.
7. Luskentyre Beach, Isle of Harris
There’s something whimsical about the Outer Hebrides. The vast open space, the refreshing breeze of the wild North Atlantic Sea, and the feeling of discovering the undiscovered make this corner of Scotland so spectacular. The beaches of the Outer Hebrides get a lot of love and it’s tough to single one out, but Luskentyre Beach is a slice of paradise. Pass by sand dunes carpeted in machair grass and you’ll reach the blinding white sands and mesmerising green-blue sea. When the tide is out, the turquoise water and sugary white sand swirl together to create a landscape that reminds us of Whitehaven Beach in Australia. And the best bit? You’ll probably have it all to yourself.