There are no end of stunning beaches and lochs to be seen across the Highlands and Islands. Many are easily accessed but some will require a sturdy pair of walking boots! Whether fishing, swimming or relaxing with a book, bear in mind that the Scottish weather can change in the blink of an eye, so a backpack with towel, waterproof and sun cream should cover all bases!
Beaches & Lochs in Caithness, NE Sutherland, Orkney and Shetland
Armadale Bay Beach
A sheltered beach 24 miles west of Thurso and popular with surfers. There is a picnic area and the small village of Armadale is close by.
By the village of Bettyhill, 30 miles west of Thurso, Farr beach is accessible only by a 350m walk from the main road. It is worth the effort, however, and along with many other north coast beaches, is popuar with surfers.
Sandside Bay, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is recognised by surfers as being home to a powerful high quality left-hand reef break.
The beach at Dunnet has a backdrop of sand dunes and across the road a small forest. The Highland Rangers also have a centre at this beach where they run various activities and walks throughout the summer months.
Known locally as Reiss Beach the white sands are sheltered from the wind by high cliffs, there is a popular surfing break and there are two ruined castles to explore.
Sands of Wright Beach
This sheltered beach is most famous for the annual Festival of the Horse & Boys Ploughing Match, a weird but traditional ritual unique to Orkney.
With easy access from the main road and toilets the sandy stretch of Dingieshowe beach is a popular choice but there is no shortage of space to roam. Just behind the beach is an ancient broch.
Birsay Bay has everything, dunes and links, rockpools, low sea cliffs, eider ducks, fulmars, kittiwakes, bonxies, turnstones, dolphins and even the occasional orca whale. North Atlantic sunsets are at their most beautiful here.
St Ninian’s Isle
Named as one of the best places in the world to swim this tombolo – in which an island is attached to the mainland by a sand bar, is one of the most picturesque beaches on the islands and has a wide range of facilities nearby.
West Voe Sands
Next to the runway of Sumburgh Airport and alongside the archaeological site of Jarlshof this long sheltered crescent of white sand is easily accessed and popular with dog walkers and families. Picnic tables with views down over the beach are available for use.
A long white sand beach with stunning cliffs at its south end. This pretty, easy to access beach is in a calm shallow cove making it ideal for families and swimming. The annual Fetlar Foy is held at the links adjacent to the beach near midsummer when the sun hardly sets.
Sands of Breckon
Framed by the cliff scenery of north Yell, the sandy beach at Breckon is one of the island’s highlights. It holds a Seaside Award from Keep Scotland Beautiful and although the bay is open to the Atlantic, it is well sheltered from most wind directions and the dunes provide an infinite variety of picnic places on good days.
Another popular surfing beach! 20 miles west of Thurso, Strathy beach is sandy with numerous caves and rock stacks. Just a short walk from the car park takes you down to the beach. The highly rated Strathy Inn in the village makes a wonderful place to relax with a pint or dinner after your visit.
Adjacent to the north coast town of Thurso, this SEPA designated bathing area stretches from Rockwell Point to Little Ebb and is popular with walkers and surfing enthusiasts. The town conveniently provides access to amenities.