Rob is an avid traveller and self-professed 'man of the world'. He is passionate about his home city, Manchester, & travelling the world.
When thinking about the best beaches in the world, many people would immediately bring to mind images of faraway tropical beaches in places like the Caribbean, Thailand or the Maldives. Or maybe they think about beaches from their holidays such as the coastal resorts of Spain and Portugal. Maybe the Greek islands or Turkey perhaps.
Unless you'd been there, you probably wouldn't immediately think about adding Scotland to that list. But let me tell right now: I've travelled extensively around the world and I've visited all of those places mentioned above. And whilst they do have absolutely incredible beaches, and the weather to boot, so too does Scotland. In fact, Scotland has some of the best beaches I have ever seen in my life.
There are a combination of factors that make Scotland's beaches seem so impressive. They look stunning for one, but they're generally found is remote locations so they're generally unspoilt by human activity and are exactly as nature intended. They're often surrounded by incredible scenery too - whether that be mountains, forests, towering sand dunes, rocky outcrops. And the water! The water is so clean, so crystal clear and so blue!
And most of these fantastic beaches are on the west coast so they also make fantastic locations to see a stunning sunset - just to make them even more romantic.
There are no hotels spoiling the view, no casinos, no bars and restaurants and no roads. The only thing generally missing is the hot sunshine and a warm water temperature. But then again, if we had those things the beaches wouldn't be what they are today. In fact the whole landscape would be completely different.
I visited a lot of these beaches whilst I was travelling around the Scottish Highlands in a campervan and exploring the NC500 route. There are many beaches on the north west coast and I was surprised to find so many awesome beaches on the north coast too. I had expected the north coast to be windswept, barren and cold. So it was a pleasant surprise to find stunning beaches such as Sango Bay and Ceannabeinne Beaches near Durness.
The most widely acclaimed beach is Achmelvich Beach, north of Ullapool and close to Lochinver. There is a campsite and youth hostel located close to the beach so it sees a fair bit of activity but is by no means 'busy' compared to more traditional tourist beaches. The main beach, which is a two minute walk from the car park is where most people lay down their towels in ward weather and spend the day. It's popular for sea-kayaking and paddle boarding. However, if you go up and over the small headland to the right of the beach you will find a near identical mirror image version of the beach which will almost certainly be empty.
One of my favourite beaches that I came across was Calgary Bay on the Isle of Mull. Not only is this an incredibly beautiful beach, there is also a free community-run campsite right next to it. The campsite is small and does not allow motorhomes, but it is located next to some public toilets and a short walk from the beach. The campsite and the toilets are maintained by the local community and so they appreciate a small donation if you stay and/or use the facilities. They also sell firewood for a donation of £5 per bag.
We were fortunate on the day that we visited Calgary Bay as the sun showed its face and stayed warm for most of the day. I had not expected to be sunbathing on a beach so for north in Scotland!
The most remote beach I found was Red Point Beach. Red Point is at the very end of a long road so there's only one way in and out meaning that it's always going to be out of the way no matter where you're heading. For that reason, Red Point Beach is fairly quiet. There's a free car park at the end of the road and then it's about a 5 minute walk down to the beach. The sand at this beach is more red in colour than some of the other beaches mentioned in this article.
Another beach that felt really remote, but which was actually only one mile down the road from the village of Durness and it's large campsite at Sango Sands, is Balnakeil Beach. This beach is more rugged than some of the others but it has the feel of the edge of the world to it. Across the bay is Cape Wrath, the most north-westerly point on mainland Britain. The weather is often pretty wild here and can be particularly bleak in the winter months through the lack of sun, perennial rain and strong winds.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Robert Clarke
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on August 04, 2021:
I never expected these beautiful beaches in Scotland. I like its isolation and its natural beauty.
Imogen French from Southwest England on August 02, 2021:
You wouldn't normally associate Scotland with beaches - but they do look beautiful - very clean and deserted too - perfect! I must go back to Scotland one day, I do love the scenery and the remote places.