Beaches & Lochs in Orkney and Shetland

Due to the amount of coastline in the Orkney and Shetland isles, there is no shortage of beaches to comb. Shells washed in from far shores and even war relics can be found. Not forgetting the famous tombolo on Shetland which doubles as a sandy beach.


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.

Dingieshowe beach

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.

dingishowe beach
birsay beach

Birsay Bay

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.

st ninians beach
west voe sands

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.

Tresta Beach

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.

tresta beach

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.