sea washing onto shore with rocks and algae

The Best Beaches in Scotland

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Complete with white sand and crystal clear water

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Scotland offers some of the world’s most beautiful beaches with sweeping dunes, white sand and turquoise-hued sea, all set against rugged and wild terrain. From the most northerly and remote islands, to the beautiful protected beaches close to St Andrews, to beaches within walking distance of whisky distilleries, these scenic beaches bring the wow factor, writes Felicity Carter.

The Best Beaches in Scotland

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aerial view of the beach

Kiloran Bay, Isle of Colonsay

The island of Colonsay lies in the Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland and offers remote unspoilt beauty. With less than 150 inhabitants, the beaches here are tranquil and there’s plenty of rare fora and fauna, and that includes Kiloran Bay which offers a crescent of white sand that widens during low tide. visitscotland.com

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sea washing onto shore with rocks and algae

Sandwood Bay Beach, Lairg

This mile-long beach in Lairg has tons of Scottish charm, with a scenic strip of sand – complete with a sea stack – that backs onto dunes, rugged cliffs and a freshwater loch. It’s also the place to spot dolphins and, according to local legend, you might even catch a glimpse of a beautiful mermaid on the rocks in the bay. walkhighlands.co.uk

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panoramic shot of Scottish beach

Newburgh Beach, Aberdeenshire

A Scottish beach for keen animal lovers. Located just 20 minutes north of Aberdeen and a mile from Forvie National Nature Reserve, Newburgh Beach not only offers a golden sandy beach with an extensive sand dune system at the mouth of Ythan River, it is also home to a 400 strong colony of grey seals throughout the year. visitabdn.com

Image credit: Jamie Mclennan

A dark cliff leading out to the sea

Talisker Bay, Skye

Calling all photographers and whisky enthusiasts: Talisker Bay is for you. Situated on the West Coast of Skye, close to the village of Carbost, this is where the famous Taslisker whisky is distilled. As for the beach, it is complete – in classic Scottish beach style – with dramatic cliffs and a stretch of grey sandy beach, making it a great spot to take photos. There’s a beautiful coastal walk, too, that is just under 3km and takes about 40 minutes. isleofskye.com

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dark green grassland jutting out into the sea

Melvich Bay, Sutherland

On Scotland’s north coast is the windswept beauty of Melvich Bay. Set against a grassy dune path that traces the course of the Halladale River inland, expect a variety of scenic views that encompasses wetland, dunes, sand and sea – plus wildlife including arctic terns during the spring and summer months. walkhighlands.co.uk

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a beach with blue green waters and a scottish flag

Luskentyre Sands, Isle of Harris

The Isle of Harris is on the west coast of South Harris in the Outer Hebrides, which is accessible by either ferry or air. Thanks to it’s remote location, Luskentyre Sands is unspoiled with spectacular views – and, as such, has been named one of the UK’s best beaches. Boasting miles of white sand and green-blue water, it’s an ideal place to switch off and relax, taking in the views and clean air. visitscotland.com

Image credit: Petia Koleva

A wooden path bordered by grass leading to the sea

St Andrews West Sands, Fife

While in St Andrews, why not visit the award-winning West Sands beach? It’s only a 15 minute walk from the town centre (and easily accessible by car with plenty of parking), and is popular amongst walkers, runners and swimmers alike. Visitors are asked to keep on the footpaths as the dunes on this Scottish beach are part of the Firth of Tay and Eden Estuary Special Area for Conservation, and there is a dune stabilisation initiative in place to protect them and the wildlife. visitscotland.com

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black rocks leading to crystal blue sea water

Camusdarach Beach, Morar

For white sand and crystal clear water, head to Camusdarach Beach in Morar, part of the Silver Sands of Morar, a series of beautiful sandy beaches that run from Arisaig to Morar. Donning views of the jagged crest of Cuillin on the Isle of Skye, the peaks of Rum and the cliff of Eigg, it’s an incredibly scenic spot. Fun for all the family, it is great for rock pooling, walking and swimming. visitscotland.com

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a path over marshy sea

Waulkmill, Orphir, Orkney

In Orkney’s West Mainland is Orphir, one of the island’s most stunning beaches with an expanse of golden sand that runs the whole length of the bay at low tide. Past the wild heather hills, there’s car parking space and steep steps that lead down to the sand and the clear waters of Scapa Flow. A lovely and rugged Scottish beach. orkney.com

 

the sea lapping onto the shore

Shetland Islands

North of the Orkney Islands are the Shetland Islands, located between Great Britain, the Faroe Islands and Norway. As such, the beaches are isolated, sweeping and offer uninterrupted views. Uyea is an uninhabited tidal island located to the northwest of Mainland and dons a dramatic coastline. There’s also a Sandvoe to Uyea walk for those who like a challenge. St Ninian’s beach is also a popular option, a large tombolo (also known as a long spit of fine sand) connecting the small isle to the South Mainland. shetland.org

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calm blue waters with a misty sky

Seilebost Beach, Lewis, Outer Hebrides

Seilebost Beach rivals any of its Mediterranean counterparts with turquoise-hued water and a secluded white sand beach. To be in amongst the environment, Seilebost has a small camp site alongside the beach with views across to Luskentyre and Taransay. At low tide, it is possible to walk the sandy stretch from Seilbost to Luskentyre Beach – but stay close to the shore, as there’s quicksand further out. visitouterhebrides.co.uk

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Featured image: Sandwood Bay Beach, Lairg (via Unsplash)