Looking for the best beaches on the west coast of Scotland? You’ve come to the right place!
Picture a place where rugged cliffs meet the untamed sea. Golden sands stretch out as far as the eye can see. If you want a coastal escape combining natural beauty with a touch of the wild, head to the west coast of Scotland.
You might be wondering, “Scotland? For beaches?” Yep, you read that right. While it may not offer the tropical allure of the Maldives or Sri Lanka, Scotland’s west coast serves up its own unique blend of scenic splendour.
I love spending time on the west coast of Scotland. It’s one of my favourite parts of the UK, and I try to visit at least once a year.
Scotland’s west coast beaches are as diverse as they are stunning. Think dramatic sunsets, towering sea stacks, and the occasional dolphin frolicking in the distance.
My Favourite Beaches on Scotland’s West Coast
Here’s my pick of the crème de la crème of Scotland’s west coast beaches. Whether you’re a hiker, a wild camper looking for a remote stretch of sand, a family in search of a safe swimming spot, or a couple yearning for a romantic sunset, there’s a beach here for you.
Ready to be captivated? Let’s dive in.
Luskentyre Sands, Isle of Harris
You may have seen photos of this incredible beach before. Located on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, it’s hard to believe that Luskentyre Sands is in the UK.
This beach is a jaw-dropping spectacle of fine white sand, turquoise waters, and ever-changing skies. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen and looks like a tropical Caribbean or Indian Ocean paradise. But it’s right here in Scotland!
The beach is framed by the North Harris Mountains, adding a rugged contrast to the soft, expansive sands. Despite its beauty, Luskentyre remains untouched by mass tourism, offering a sense of solitude even on its busiest days.
It’s a place where the only sounds you’ll hear are the waves lapping against the shore and the occasional call of a sea eagle. There are no cafes or playgrounds here – it’s just you and the unspoiled beauty of nature.
Keep your eyes peeled for the local wildlife. Dolphins, seals, otters, whales, and orcas are all frequent visitors here.
Known locally as Losgaintir, Luskentyre is easily one of the best beaches in the UK. It’s a place that I find incredibly inspiring, and I’m sure you’ll love it too.
Location: Harris, Isle of Harris HS3 3HL
Oldshoremore Beach, Lairg
Last year, I drove the North Coast 500. Along the way, I wild camped on several sandy beaches on the west coast of Scotland. The night I spent on Oldshoremore Beach was one of my favourites.
Hidden away at the end of a narrow single-track road in the far northwest of mainland Scotland, this fantastic hidden gem enjoys a wonderfully secluded setting. It’s a sanctuary for those looking to escape the crowds and reconnect with nature in a meaningful way.
You have to walk a little way from the car park to get down to the sands, and I arrived here just as the sun was setting. At night, all I could hear was the soft lapping of waves on the golden sands, and the distant calls of coastal birds. It’s an amazing place.
Oldshhoremore Beach is just as special in the daytime too. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely coastal walk or a scenic surf session, this place has you covered.
I also recommend hiking up the steep grassy headland for a breathtaking view of the sea and the beach below. The colours are exquisite!
During the summer months, the surrounding machair bursts into life with wildflowers, adding a vibrant layer to the already stunning landscape.
It’s no wonder that Oldshoremore consistently ranks among Scotland’s top beaches. It’s a must-visit place on any northwest Scottish itinerary!
Fun fact: “Machair” means “fertile plain” in Gaelic and is used to describe the fertile, duney grassland that’s a unique feature of Scotland’s west coast beaches.
Location: Oldshoremore, Lairg IV27 4RS
Balnakeil Beach, Durness
Balnakeil Beach is another place that I fell in love with when I visited last year.
Located just a short distance from Durness, the northernmost village in mainland Britain, this place is vast and incredibly spectacular. I lost track of the number of seals and dolphins I saw here.
The beach itself is more than 2 kilometres long and stretches all the way to Faraid Head.
This area is steeped in history, its dramatic cliffs and mysterious dunes echoing with tales of Norse voyages and Celtic legends.
There’s a great walk that runs all the way along the beach, and then up through the towering golden dunes.
It’s easy to get caught up in the atmosphere and forget all about the world beyond. I spent the best part of a day here and totally lost all sense of time.
As you emerge on the other side of the dunes, you’ll be about two-thirds of the way along the peninsula. Keep walking all the way to the end and you’ll see a tiny military lookout station come into view.
Look left across the Kyle of Durness for a great view of Cape Wrath – the most northwesterly point of Great Britain. The military often uses this wild, remote area for live-fire exercises.
One of these exercises was going on when I was there. In the distance, I could see and hear shells being fired, and a warship was patrolling off the coast as part of as some kind of assault simulation. It was quite surreal!
As the sun sets, Balnakeil Beach transforms into an ethereal landscape, with the sky painted in dramatic shades of orange, pink, and purple. It’s the perfect setting for a peaceful evening stroll or a moment of reflection.
If you want an amazing place nearby to set up your tent and camp for a night, overlooking the sea, park your car next to the ruins of Balnakeil Church. Continue on foot, past Durness Golf Club, until you get to about here (Google Maps).
Look out for dolphins and whales in the waters below!
Location: Lairg IV27 4PX
Camusdarach Beach, Morar
The view from Camusdarach Beach is superb. From here you can enjoy a panorama of the Cuillin Mountains on Skye, the cliffs of Eigg, and the Small Isles.
With its pristine white sands and crystal-clear waters, this is another beach that looks like something straight out of the tropics.
It’s part of the Silver Sands of Morar, a series of beaches running along the coast just south of Mallaig.
Mallaig is the final stop on the West Highland railway line, which also passes through Fort William and Glenfinnan via the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct (of Harry Potter fame).
I also came here last year, before taking the ferry from Mallaig over to Knoydart – a spectacular, remote peninsula that has no road connections to the rest of the country.
At low tide, Camusdarach Beach reveals a world of rock pools, teeming with marine life like limpets, whelks, and hermit crabs. The beach has a few amenities including a car park, toilets, a tearoom, a shop selling local products, and even a little art gallery.
Location: Mallaig PH40 4PD
Sanna Beach, Ardnamurchan Peninsula
Located near the most westerly point of mainland Britain, Sanna Beach on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula is a secluded haven of pristine white sands and mesmerising turquoise waters.
The journey to reach this idyllic spot is an adventure in itself, taking you through the magma chamber of an extinct volcano.
Once you arrive, a walk through the sand dunes leads you along the headland. Here you can soak in panoramic views of the Small Isles of Rum, Eigg, Muck, and Canna.
It’s also teeming with wildlife, from dolphins and whales to sea eagles and otters. And if you’re visiting in the spring, the bay comes alive with a burst of wildflowers, making it even more spectacular.
For me, this place perfectly captures the essence of the rugged beauty of the west coast of Scotland.
Location: Acharacle PH36 4LW
Achmelvich Bay, Lochinver
Achmelvich Bay was another one of my favourite places from my most recent North Coast 500 trip.
Located not far from Lochinver, this is a fairly popular beach known for its immaculate white sands, dunes, and turquoise waters.
Throughout the summer months, there are various watersports on offer, including windsurfing, kayaking, and fishing.
There are many unique rock formations here too, which are great for exploring and scrambling. Check out the rock pools, I saw loads of crabs, fish, and even a few jellyfish.
The beach is fairly accessible by car, although finding a spot to park can sometimes be an issue during busier periods (weekends, holidays, etc.). There are facilities here, including toilets and showers.
If you’re looking for a more secluded experience, a short climb over the little headland takes you to another sheltered bay.
Location: Lairg IV27 4JB
Sandwood Bay, Sutherland
Sandwood Bay is one of the most famous and spectacular beaches on the west coast of Scotland. This dramatic bay has a mile-long stretch of pink sand, backed by wind-swept dunes, with crystal-clear waters, sea stacks, and towering cliffs.
The rocks surrounding the beach are among the oldest in the world, adding a geological significance to this already stunning location.
The only way to reach this amazing place is to hike 4 miles (each way) from the car park at Blairmore. It’s a pleasant, flat hike along a well-maintained path (managed by the John Muir Trust) that skirts around the edges of several lochans.
Be prepared with extra layers though – the whole route is quite exposed.
One of my favourite things about Sandwood Bay is its isolation. Once you get to the bay, you’ll be greeted with a sweeping expanse that you can enjoy virtually entirely to yourself.
This whole area is steeped in history and legend too. From tales of ghostly ships appearing on stormy nights to myths of creatures wandering the land, Sandwood Bay is both beautiful and mysterious.
Location: Lairg IV27 4RU
Clachtoll Beach, Assynt
Located in the remote, sparsely populated region of Assynt, Clachtoll Beach is a picturesque stretch of fine white sand. And just look at the colour of that water!
Easily accessible from the B869 road, it’s an ideal spot for anyone looking for a picturesque slice of west coast beauty far from the crowds that flock to Scotland’s more famous beaches.
With its rugged, rocky backdrop and peaceful, serene atmosphere, Clachtoll Beach offers a perfect escape from daily life. It’s an ideal spot for those seeking a quieter, more tranquil beach experience in Scotland.
There are many interesting rock formations dotted around the headlands. The water here is some of the clearest and cleanest I’ve ever seen.
The beach also has toilets and a maintained campsite, making it a family-friendly destination amidst the wilderness.
Location: Lairg IV27 4JD
Kiloran Bay, Colonsay
Situated on the island of Colonsay, Kiloran Bay is one of the more remote, lesser-known beaches on this list. But it’s more than worth the extra effort to come here.
This hidden gem is really spectacular. It’s a pristine, one-kilometre-long stretch of pristine golden sand with clean, crystal-clear water.
To get here, you need to cross a small stream between the car park and the beach. I recommend bringing wellies (or going barefoot).
The beach is fairly sheltered and protected from the wind, making it a good spot for stand-up paddleboarding or swimming – as long as you don’t mind the cold water!
The chances are, you’ll see more seals than people on this amazing beach. It’s a really tranquil spot. If you’re looking for somewhere to find peace in stunning natural surroundings, this place is perfect.
I’ve heard it’s a pretty epic place for surfing too when the swell is up…
Location: Colonsay, Isle of Colonsay PA61 7YT
Mellon Udrigle Beach, Gruinard Bay
Located in the scenic Gruinard Bay, Mellon Udrigle Beach is a secluded sanctuary of white sands and sweeping mountain vistas.
When I came here, I was struck by how the beach encapsulated everything I love about Scotland’s west coast. The scenery, the solitude, everything was spectacular.
Nestled amidst the quiet highlands of Achnasheen, the beach offers a breathtaking panorama where towering highlands meet the gently lapping shore.
There’s a campsite here with basic facilities, or you can just wander a while and find a secluded spot to pitch your tent. It’s a place that leaves a lasting impression, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty and peaceful solitude.
Location: Achnasheen IV22 2NT
Firemore Beach, Wester Ross
On the quiet western shores of Loch Ewe, Firemore is another great unspoilt beach in Wester Ross.
The warm waters of the Gulf Stream make it a perfect spot for swimming, snorkeling, and other aquatic activities.
You can often spot dolphins, whales, seals, and a variety of seabirds here, making it an excellent destination for lovers of wildlife too.
Location: Achnasheen IV22 2LQ
Talisker Bay Beach, Isle of Skye
Whisky lovers will probably recognise the name of this one!
Located on the Isle of Skye, Talisker Bay is a wild and rugged place. The rocky beach is a unique mix of black and white, with fine white sand visible at low tide.
Framed by towering cliffs and the cascading Talisker waterfalls, the bay has an incredible backdrop. This is another excellent spot for wild swimming (if you can brave the cold).
There isn’t an official car park, but you can find the odd place to pull in along the main road. From here, it’s an easy 15-minute walk along a dirt track through farmland to get to the beach.
Nearby, don’t miss a visit to the famous Talisker Distillery. Whether you’re a whisky aficionado or simply curious, a trip to the distillery complements a day at the beach perfectly.
Location: Isle of Skye IV47 8SF
Coral Beach, Skye
Another fantastic, tucked-away beach on the Isle of Skye, Coral Beach offers a stark contrast between its brilliant ivory sands and the island’s dark, rugged terrain.
The beach owes its unique colour to billions of crushed seashells and tiny pieces of coral (hence the name).
Walking along the shoreline, you’re greeted by invigorating sea air and inspiring views of the surrounding peninsulas and little islands.
It’s a paradise for photographers, birders, lovers of the sea, and anyone who just wants to get away from it all.
Whether you’re here for the scenery, the wildlife, or simply to escape, Coral Beach offers a unique and enchanting experience.
Location: Isle of Skye IV55 8WF
Scalpsie Bay, Isle of Bute
Located on the Isle of Bute, west of Glasgow, Scalpsie Bay is a secluded pink-sand beach with spectacular views of the Isle of Arran.
This is one of the beaches on the west coast of Scotland where you’re most likely to spot seals. The bay is home to a colony of over 200 seals, and it doesn’t take long before you spot them basking on the rocks.
I love this place, and watching these curious, playful creatures in their natural environment is a real privilege.
Scalpsie Bay also has a rich history. During the Second World War, it was an important centre for military training.
It was also believed to be a likely site for an enemy invasion, and you can still see the remains of fortifications and other defensive structures on the beach.
Location: Isle of Bute PA20 0QA
Red Point Beach, Gairloch
Tucked away behind a headland at the mouth of Loch Torridon, Red Point Beach is a secluded wild beach with distinctive red sands.
The beach offers sweeping views across to Skye. From the higher points of the headland, you can sometimes see whales out to sea.
Most people take the scenic drive, via the attractive little village of Badachro, to get to Red Point.
Alternatively, there’s a (relatively challenging) hike to Red Point from the tiny hamlet of Lower Diabaig. In total, it’s about 17 miles (27 kilometres) roundtrip though, so only attempt this if you’re properly prepared.
If you want to break up the hike with an overnight stop, you can either camp or spend the night in the (superb and recently-renovated) Craig Bothy, which is located along this trail.
Also, if you do find yourself in Lower Diabaig, be sure to eat at the superb Gille Brighde restaurant. It’s one of my favourite restaurants in Scotland and serves some of the best scallops and wild venison that I’ve ever eaten.
The drive to Diabaig is also spectacular, and fun. But be careful – it’s very steep and narrow in places, and there are a few sheer drops!
Location: Gairloch IV21 2AX
Calgary Bay Beach, Mull
Tucked away on the Isle of Mull, Calgary Bay is another beautiful stretch of white sand, with sapphire waters that look more like the tropics than northern Europe.
However, surrounded by rocky hills dotted with abandoned farmhouses and stone fortresses, the setting is quintessentially Scottish. The nearby ancient woodlands add a sense of timeless wonder.
The sea is calm and sheltered here, making it a safe and fun spot for swimming. There are several rocky coves nearby plus a few caves that you can explore.
This beach has a few simple facilities, including toilets, an ice cream shop, and a little campsite.
It’s fairly popular with day trippers and campers, although the beach is large enough that you’ll never feel too crowded or cramped.
Location: Isle of Mull PA75 6QT
Big Sand Beach, Gairloch
The appropriately named Big Sand Beach is indeed quite big – and also sandy.
It also offers captivating views of the Torridon Hills and across the sea to Skye. The bay’s golden sands create a striking contrast with the deep blue sea and the lush green hills, making it another dream location for photographers.
As the sun sets, the sky is painted in vivid hues, and various species of birds take flight overhead.
Then, as night descends, the area is transformed into a superb natural planetarium. Thanks to minimal light pollution, the stargazing up here is really excellent.
It’s also fairly accessible by car. Come here – it’s great.
Location: Gairloch IV21 2DJ
(Unnamed Beach), Dumfries and Galloway
This beach doesn’t have a name, as far as I’m aware. I discovered it by accident a couple of years ago while I was exploring the (extremely underrated) southwestern area of Dumfries and Galloway.
It’s located at the very tip of a little peninsula called Torr Point. There are no roads on this peninsula, you need to park your car at the end of the road and then walk for about 45 minutes to get here.
The path is fairly easy to follow and is on MapsMe.
I camped on the beach here and then took an early-morning swim in the (strangely not cold) sea. It was awesome – I’d highly recommend it!
Location: Castle Douglas DG5 4QL. The exact location on Google Maps is here.
Langamull Beach, Isle of Mull
Situated on the Isle of Mull, not far from Calgary Beach (see above), Langamull Beach is sometimes described as the “Caribbean of Mull”. And for good reason.
This secluded spot boasts an expanse of white-shell sand and turquoise waters, rivalling even the most exotic tropical destinations in terms of beauty (even if not in weather).
There’s no direct road access, but an easy 20-minute walk is all it takes to reach this slice of paradise.
And for those visiting with four-legged friends, the good news is that dogs are welcome year-round. However, you must keep them on a tight lead on the walk to the beach as it passes through grazing land.
It’s an amazing place for swimming. However, note that this is a wild beach, with no facilities, and swimming is at your own risk.
Location: Isle of Mull PA75 6QY
Other Attractions on the West Coast of Scotland
As you explore these beautiful beaches, don’t forget to take advantage of the nearby attractions, including coastal walks, wildlife-watching opportunities, and historical sites.
Wildlife Watching Opportunities
The west coast of Scotland is an amazing place for spotting wildlife.
Some of the wildlife I’ve seen the most there include:
- Red deer
- Seals (common and grey) and otters
- Dolphins (bottlenose and common) and porpoises
- Various bird species (including golden eagles, ospreys, and oystercatchers)
It’s not uncommon to spot whales, basking sharks, and orcas off the west coast of Scotland too.
Historical Sites and Landmarks
The region is also a treasure trove of historical sites and landmarks, each one marking a chapter of Scotland’s rich and varied history.
One of the most famous and iconic landmarks is Eilean Donan Castle. Dating back to the 13th century, the castle has been a focal point of Scottish history, including clan feuds and Jacobite rebellions.
Its picturesque setting also makes it one of the most photographed spots in Scotland.
Further south, the Isle of Iona is another must-visit historical site. Known as the ‘Cradle of Christianity’ in Scotland, Iona Abbey was founded by St. Columba in the 6th century and became a vital centre for monasticism.
The island itself exudes a sense of peace and spiritual renewal, attracting pilgrims and tourists alike.
Nearby, on the Isle of Mull, Duart Castle stands as a testament to the power and influence of the Clan Maclean over the centuries. The castle’s strategic position overlooking the Sound of Mull offers not just military advantage but also breathtaking views.
The West Coast has several prehistoric landmarks like the Calanais Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis. This Neolithic stone circle predates Stonehenge and remains shrouded in mystery and folklore.
FAQs About the Beaches on the West Coast of Scotland
Where is nice on the west coast of Scotland?
I think a better question might be: where isn’t nice on the west coast of Scotland? Seriously though, there are so many great places. Torridon is one of my personal favourites.
What is the best beach in Scotland?
Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris is often cited as the best beach in Scotland for its white sand and turquoise waters. However, I think Balnakeil Beach is equally stunning.
What beaches are on the west coast Scotland?
Some popular beaches on the west coast of Scotland include Camusdarach Beach, Calgary Bay, and Kiloran Bay.
Are the beaches in Scotland dog-friendly?
Many beaches in Scotland are dog-friendly, and responsible dog walkers are welcome. Some beaches may have certain restrictions during the peak tourist season (e.g. the summer holidays).
What is the most westerly beach in mainland Scotland?
Sanna Beach on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula is the most westerly beach in mainland Scotland.
Is the west or east coast of Scotland better?
Whether the west or east coast of Scotland is better depends on what you’re looking for. The west is more rugged and scenic, while the east tends to have better (read: dryer) weather.
Which coast of Scotland is warmer?
The west coast of Scotland is generally warmer (but much wetter) than the east coast. This is due to the Gulf Stream and the prevailing winds from the North Atlantic Ocean.
Where is the beach in Scotland that looks like the Caribbean?
Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris is often compared to Caribbean beaches due to its white sand and clear, turquoise waters.
Where is the sunniest place on the west coast of Scotland?
Tiree, known as the “Sunshine Isle,” is often the sunniest place on the west coast of Scotland.
Final Thoughts: Beautiful West Coast of Scotland Beaches
The west coast of Scotland is home to some of the most breathtaking beaches in the UK, if not the whole of Europe.
From the white sandy shores of Luskentyre Beach to the rugged beauty of Sandwood Bay, there’s a huge number of amazing beaches to choose from, with something for every taste and preference.
Whether you’re looking to surf, hike, swim, sail, spot wildlife, or just relax by the sea, this spectacular area of the country has a lot to offer.
I hope this post has inspired you to explore some of the best beaches on the west coast of Scotland. Which of these beaches have you visited? Which one is your favourite? Let me know below!