Beaches and Lochs in the Central Highlands

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!


Shandwick Beach

Convenently located in the seaside villages of Shandwick and Ballintore, this is compromised of sandy and rocky sections – meaning both rockpools and sandcastles. Free parking, public toilets and easy access to the villages make this a convenient family day out.

shandwick beach
rosemarkie beach


One of the finest beaches on the Black Isle, its is accessible, offers a wide range of facilities nearby and at Chanonry point the finest place in the UK to view dolphins.


If you tire of white sandy beaches then head to Eathie for a refreshing change, Follow in the footsteps of Hugh Millar and collect fossils, look out for dolphins and if the weather gets bad head for shelter in the newly restored bothy.

eathie beach
nigg beach

Nigg beach

Hop off the ferry from Cromarty and you are directly on this sandy beach at the entrance to the Cromarty Firth.

Loch Eye

Loch Eye is Easter Ross’ finest wild brown trout fishery and It is situated in rolling farmland near Fearn between the Cromarty and Dornoch Firths. It is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest as it is an important winter roosting site for internationally important numbers of waterfowl. In summer visiting ospreys can be seen regularly through the day, as well as the occasional otter.

loch eye
portmahomack beach


If you don’t mind a wee bit of a rocky scramble then a walk around the Tarbat Ness headland from Portmahomack offers the opportunities to check out a lighthouse, medieval castle and breeding seabirds.

Nairn Beach (Central and East)

The small town of Nairn contains two large sandy beaches, both are SEPA designated bathing areas and come with with the possibility of sighting the famous Moray Firth dolphins. Easy access to the town with public toilets, restaurants, cafes and shops.

Nairn Beach
loch moy

Loch Moy

Walk or cycle the 7km circuit of this scenic loch just off the A9 south of Inverness. Swim to the island if you are feeling particularly adventurous.

Whiteness Point

Whiteness point west of Nairn has views across the Moray Forth where you can spot seals and Dolphins if you are lucky. Victorian visitors used to believe in the healing properties of the water here and would use horse-drawn bathing machines, a practice somewhat frowned upon these days.

whiteness beach
culbin sands


If sand dunes are your thing then head to the RSPB reserve at Culbin just east of Nairn, where you can spot rare waders and geese while playing in one of the biggest dune systems in the UK.

Dores Beach

Located on the banks of Loch Ness in the village of Dores this beach is small and rocky with stunning views down the Loch. Dores Inn, right by the beach, is famous for its fantastic food, while a small ice cream hut sells locally made ice cream throughout the summer.


Loch Oich

This is a great place to stop for a break if you are walking the Great Glen Way. There are picnic tables beneath the trees next to the road, and if the exertion is too much it a perfect spot for a refreshing dip.

Loch Ruthven

Close to the town of Farr, this RSPB reserve is famous for being home to half the UK’s population of the very rare, Slavonian Grebe. This is also a good place to see osprey’s catching fish as well as heron, oystercatcher and cuckoo.

loch ruthven
loch mhor

Loch Mhor

Osprey can occasionally be spotted taking some very good fish from Loch Mhor and occasionally some of the more dedicated fishermen have also been successful. Mostly small brown trout are to be had if you are lucky

Loch Ashie

A spectral army is said to appear on the shores of the loch at dawn on May the first, which is Beltane in the Celtic calendar. Tradition suggests that the warriors are men from the army of Finn Mac Cumhail, the Irish folk hero who appeared in battle in this area.

loch ashie
loch garry

Loch Garry

Loch Garry, which was dammed in the years after the War has some of the best wild trout fishing in the country, the British record fly caught brown trout of 19lb 2oz was taken here.

Plodda Falls

Plodda Falls is the highest and most spectacular waterfall in the area, over forty metres high. Parking is available at the end of a narrow track, you can wander around the impressive forest before taking in the dramatic views.

plodda falls