Forget Cornwall! Head to SCOTLAND for a stunning staycation beach break – and here we reveal the top spots, from a Caribbean lookalike to a family friendly strip of sand in Edinburgh
- Visit Scotland has hand-picked the best beaches for watching sunsets, family days out, picnicking and more
- You might spy dolphins off the coast of the ‘superb’ sandy beach in Nairn, a resort town in the Highlands
- READ MORE: How swapping popular holiday spots for underrated alternatives can save you a lot of money
Cornwall is often lauded as Britain’s beach capital but Scotland, with its soft-white-sand beaches and clear blue seas, gives the county some stiff competition.
To aid those planning a beach break in Bonnie Scotland, the tourist board – Visit Scotland – has curated a list of 12 of the nation’s top beaches, revealing which stretches of sand are best for watching beautiful sunsets, picnicking, wildlife spotting and more.
The round-up spans everywhere from Edinburgh to the Isle of Tiree, also known as the ‘Hawaii of the North’. Get your beach towels at the ready…
TOP BEACHES TO WATCH A SUNSET
GRUINARD BAY – ROSS AND CROMARTY, WEST SCOTLAND
Visit Scotland says that visitors to Gruinard Bay will be treated to ‘mesmerising sunsets’
‘Nestled on the west coast of Scotland, Gruinard Bay is a hidden gem renowned for its mesmerising sunsets,’ Visit Scotland says.
The bay is comprised of three sandy beaches, which offer ‘unobstructed views of the horizon, allowing sunset-spotters to witness the gradual fading of daylight and the emergence of a celestial masterpiece’.
ST NINIAN’S ISLE – THE SHETLAND ISLANDS
Watch as St Ninian’s Isle and its sandy tombolo get ‘bathed in a warm golden light’ during the sunset
St. Ninian’s Isle is connected to Mainland – the biggest Shetland isle – via a tombolo, a narrow strip of sand that’s described by Visit Scotland as a ‘unique setting for sunset enthusiasts’.
It says: ‘As the sun sets over the North Sea, the surrounding landscapes and the ancient chapel on the isle are bathed in a warm golden light.’
TENTSMUIR SANDS – FIFE
Keep an eye out for rare bird species on a visit to Tentsmuir Sands (pictured) in Fife
Panoramic views of the sunset over the North Sea await those who venture across the ‘winding pathways that meander through the dunes’ of Tentsmuir Sands in Fife.
The area is also a haven for wildlife, according to Visit Scotland, which suggests that visitors ‘keep an eye out for rare bird species and other fascinating creatures that call this dune-filled landscape home’.
TOP BEACHES FOR A FAMILY DAY OUT
PORTOBELLO BEACH – EDINBURGH
Beginners can enjoy the wonders of wild swimming at Portobello Beach, which lies near Edinburgh’s city centre
‘With its waters granted designated bathing water status from SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency), and its low tide, Portobello Beach is the perfect place for beginners to enjoy the wonders of wild swimming,’ says Visit Scotland.
During a day spent on the two-mile (three-kilometre) stretch of sand, which lies a short drive from Edinburgh city centre, families can sunbathe, wander along the promenade and grab a dessert from the beachside ice cream shops.
MILARROCHY BAY – LOCH LOMOND, SOUTHERN SCOTLAND
Head to Milarrochy Bay on the shores of Loch Lomond for a refreshing swim. Image courtesy of Paul Saunders
This ‘stunning’ stretch of sand lies on the shores of Loch Lomond, near the town of Balmaha. Visit Scotland says that a refreshing swim in the loch is the perfect way to cool off after a day spent exploring the surrounding Munros.
Families can wander along the ‘Loch Lomond Faerie Trail’ before meeting alpacas, donkeys, sheep, highland cows and goats at the nearby Faerie Tale Farm.
Extend the day with a stay in one of the self-catering houses at Cameron Lodges, where little ones will receive an ‘explorer kit’, containing binoculars, an adventure vest and hat, as well as stationary to make a note of their discoveries, Visit Scotland reveals. The price per night starts from £154 per night.
NAIRN BEACH – NAIRN, THE HIGHLANDS
Nairn Beach offers a wide range of coastal walks and its coastline is home to a resident school of dolphins
Visit Scotland says this ‘superb’ sandy beach in the middle of Nairn, a resort town in the Scottish Highlands, is ‘a fantastic attraction and popular with families’.
It continues: ‘Its coastline is home to a resident school of dolphins and there is also a great range of coastal walks in either direction.’
Not only that, but local activity centre Bowhunter Archery teaches visitors the art of axe throwing and bushcraft – the latter of which involves using practical skills to survive in nature.
TOP BEACHES FOR WILDLIFE ENTHUSIASTS
BEACHES OF THE ISLE OF COLL – INNER HEBRIDES
You might encounter curious seals on the ‘pristine’ beaches of the Isle of Coll, Visit Scotland reveals
Visit Scotland declares the Isle of Coll in the Inner Hebrides a ‘must-visit snorkelling destination’, saying: ‘With its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, this island offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore its underwater wonders.’
The tourist board continues: ‘Discover thriving kelp forests, encounter curious seals, and witness the vibrant array of fish that call these waters home.’
Not only that, but these ‘coastal waters also offer a unique opportunity to witness one of nature’s gentle giants – the basking shark’, Visit Scotland reveals. To spot the creatures in their natural habitat, sign up for a wildlife adventure trip with tour operator Basking Shark Scotland.
BEACHES OF THE ISLE OF ARRAN – WEST COAST OF SCOTLAND
The Scottish tourist board describes the beaches on the Isle of Arran as ‘captivating’. Wildlife enthusiasts ought to stop by the ‘Coast Discovery Centre’ on the seafront in Lamlash Bay (pictured)
The Isle of Arran has ‘captivating’ beaches and Visit Scotland recommends that wildlife enthusiasts stop by the ‘Coast Discovery Centre’ on the seafront in Lamlash Bay, where they can learn about the island’s marine biodiversity and conservation efforts.
What’s more, the island’s beaches offer a ‘gateway to the past, inviting fossil hunting enthusiasts and shell collectors to embark on an extraordinary journey through time’, Visit Scotland adds.
For a bargain break, check into the Lochranza Youth Hostel to the north of the isle, where beds are priced from just £14 per person per night.
LUNAN BAY – ANGUS
Admire the ‘breath-taking coastal scenery’ of Lunan Bay on the Angus coast before going bird-spotting at the nearby Montrose Basin
Visit Scotland describes Lunan Bay, set on the Angus coastline, as ‘a hidden gem known for its pristine sandy beach and breath-taking coastal scenery’.
After lounging on the beach, it recommends paying a visit to the nearby Montrose Basin, the enclosed estuary of the South Esk River that’s home to over 80,000 migratory birds including pink-footed geese, common terns and kingfishers.
TOP BEACHES FOR A PICTURESQUE PICNIC
PRINCE’S BEACH – ERISKAY, OUTER HEBRIDES
‘Embark on a leisurely coastal walk’ on a trip to Prince’s Beach on Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides
Sandwiches and flasks of tea and coffee are essentials for a day out on Prince’s Beach on the isle of Eriskay – because it’s the perfect spot for a seaside picnic.
This pretty stretch of sand is said to be where Bonnie Prince Charlie, who led a lead a Jacobite rebellion against the British government in 1745, first set foot on Scottish soil, Visit Scotland reveals.
The tourist board adds that on a visit to the beach, day-trippers can ’embark on a leisurely coastal walk, tracing the rugged cliffs and taking in the dramatic coastal views that stretch as far as the eye can see’.
One enamoured Tripadvisor user, ‘Anne H’, wrote after her visit: ‘What a beautiful beach. Weather was gorgeous when we were there – I thought I was at the Caribbean.’
User ‘Mandykayo1’ seconded that opinion, writing that ‘you feel like you’re in the Caribbean’ on the beach thanks to its ‘crystal clear waters and sand filled with gorgeous shells’. And user ‘HebrideanWay’ weighed in: ‘White sand and turquoise sea – what more could you ask for?’
BALEPHUIL BAY – TIREE ISLAND, INNER HEBRIDES
Balephuil Bay on the Isle of Tiree offers white-shell beaches and turquoise waters. Image courtesy of Creative Commons
Another picturesque picnic destination is the mile-long (1.6km) Balephuil Bay, which lies on the southwest coast of the Isle of Tiree – a ‘tranquil paradise’ that’s nicknamed the ‘Hawaii of the North’ – in the Inner Hebrides archipelago.
Visit Scotland reveals: ‘With white-shell beaches and turquoise waters, Balephuil Bay is the perfect place for a swim and a firm favourite for surfers, thanks to the warm waters brought in by the Gulf Stream.’
BEACH OF LOCHGOILHEAD – ARGYLL AND BUTE
The highlight of any visit to the village of Lochgoilhead (above) is said to be the area’s lochside beach
Lochgoilhead is a village ‘situated amidst the stunning scenery of mountains and forests’ on the shores of Loch Goil in Argyll and Bute.
‘The highlight of this destination is undoubtedly its pristine beach,’ says Visit Scotland, adding: ‘Visitors flock to Lochgoilhead to soak up the sun, bask in the serenity, and indulge in a plethora of exciting activities.’
After a day spent picnicking on the beach, drink in more views of the lake from your room at The Shore House Inn, with a night’s stay priced from £90 per night.
Source: Read Full Article