A Guide to Scotland’s Coast


According to the British Cartographic Society, Scotland’s coast measures about 4,174 miles which is more than 1,000 miles less of the length of England’s coastline. However, if the Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands, Isle of Arran, Islay, Western Isles and the Isle of Jura are added to Scotland’s coastline, it is about 11,550 miles long. In this case, Scotland’s coast measures twice as much as England’s coast that is about 5,581 long and more than the entire length of Great Britain which measures about 11,073 miles. But with such a huge choice of beaches, it can be very challenging to pick one. In addition, some are better to be admired from ashore rather than from the water. The following list of the most spectacular beaches on Scotland’s coast may therefore make your choice a little bit easier:

Sandwood Bay, Sutherland. One of the most famous and most spectacular beaches on Scotland’s coast is located on the far north-west of Scotland. There is no road leading directly to the one mile long beach which can exclusively be accessed by foot on about 4 mile long path. Unfortunately, the breathtaking beach is too dangerous for swimming due to strong currents. You are therefore highly recommended to resist the temptation of coast swimming at Sandwood Bay.

Luskentyre beach, Isle of Harris, the Outer Hebrides. The beach which is traditionally found on most lists of the most spectacular beaches in both Scotland and the UK is indeed breathtaking but unfortunately, it is not a coast swimmer’s paradise as the water reaches only about 12 degrees in the summer months.

The Big Strand, Islay, Inner Hebrides. The beaches on the Islay attract mostly nature lovers and walkers, however, there are a few beaches on the island which do not only impress with their stunning beauty but also offer a unique swimming experience such as the Big Strand on the shore of Laggan Bay. However, be sure to check the weather and tides before you head to the water. Also, you are highly recommended not to swim too far from the shore.

West Sands, Fife. The two mile long sandy beach which is only a 15 minute walk from St Andrews is one of the most beautiful and suitable places for coast swimming on Scotland’s east coast. Nearby is also a world-class golf course as well as plenty of fine restaurants and shops.

Burntisland, Fife. The town of Burntisland is a coast swimmer’s paradise. It is home to a spectacular sandy beach which has been awarded the Blue Flag two years in a row as well as to the Beacon leisure centre with a 25 m swimming pool featuring wave machine as an alternative to coast swimming in case the weather is not suitable for swimming in the sea.

Seacliff beach, East Lothian. The estate consisting of a harbour, mansion and a spectacular beach is private and can be accessed only via private road on a payment of £2. But it is worth of every penny especially if you prefer more “private” beaches.