Scotland is renowned across the world for its wild beauty, and there’s no better place to see it in all its glory than on its delightful coastline. The coast boasts not only jagged cliffs and endless sea views but also gorgeous sandy beaches which wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean on a sunny day.
Although many of these are remote and difficult to reach, the views you will be rewarded when you arrive will be well worth it, and thanks to their secluded location, you may even get to have these stunning stretches of sand all to yourself. If you’re looking to discover some of the country’s best-kept secrets on your holiday to Scotland, look no further than these quiet and beautiful beaches.
Silver Sands of Morar, Sutherland
Located around an hour’s drive from Fort William, the Silver Sands of Morar are a string of white sandy beaches which line the coast from Arisaig to Morar. These beaches are renowned not only for their unspoilt sands but also for their delightful views out to the Small Isles of Rum, Eigg, Muck and Canna. Sand dunes and headlands also help to add even more character to the seaside views on offer.
Many of the beaches can be reached straight from the roadside, though to reach some beaches, such as Bourblach, you may need to follow a few country lanes or trails. Once you’re on one beach, you can explore them all, as a coastal trail takes you over each beach to enjoy unrivalled views and a hugely memorable walk.
Achnahaird, Wester Ross
Lying a 45-minute drive from Ullapool, Achnahaird Beach can only be reached via a single-track road which runs for two miles past the village of Achiltibuie. From here, a short footpath takes down to the low-lying grass hillocks that back both the inlet of cream-coloured sand and the rockpools that decorate it.
Surrounded by the Inverpolly Nature Reserve, the beach is also a haven for wildlife, attracting pine martens, golden eagles and wild cats to its shores. The views here are also incredible, not only out to sea but also up to the surrounding mountains, including Stac Polly.
Luskentyre Beach, Isle of Harris
Found in the south of the Isle of Harris, Luskentyre Beach is one of the best examples of the many stunning coves and beaches waiting to be discovered on this unspoilt island. It features some of the world’s oldest rock, Lewisian Gneiss, and striking dunes beside its stretch of lovely golden sand. The views here are simply irresistible: sparkling turquoise waters, the mountains of North Harris and the Isle of Taransay can all be seen from Luskentyre.
The beach’s car park is reached at the end of a minor road, with a path through the dunes leading you down to the sands of Traigh Rosamol, the northernmost part of the beach.
Oldshoremore and Polin, Sutherland
Formed from eroded sandstone and seashells, Oldshoremore and its neighbouring beach, Polin, are found by the hamlet of Oldshoremore, a few miles north-west of Kinlochbervie. A rocky peninsula, Eilean na h-Aiteig, separates the two beaches, which both enjoy spectacular stretches of clean, white sand. Ledges and rock pools can also be found throughout, while a narrow coastal footpath provides the easiest way to explore the two. The views out to the vast and clear blue sea will leave you feeling like you’re on the edge of the world.
These beaches are easily reached from the road leading through Kinlochbervie and Oldshoremore, with a choice of two left turnings you can take to reach one of the beaches’ car parks.
Sandwood Bay, Highland
Found near the very tip of the north-west coast, this mile-long stretch of sand offers undisturbed views out across the crystal-clear Atlantic Ocean. Besides the amazing views out to sea, you’ll also be able to soak up the vistas of Am Buachaille, a striking vertical rock formation which stands a mile south-west.
This beach is the definition of remote, as it is not approachable by car – in fact, you will need to park four miles away and trek along the coast to reach it. Walk from Blairmore in the west or Cape Wrath in the east to reach this secluded bay.
Strathy Bay, Sutherland
With cliffs on one side and the mouth of the River Strathy on the other, Strathy Bay is a lovely sheltered beach found on Scotland’s north coast. Sheltered by rocky headlands and sand dunes, the area really comes to life with colour in the spring, when colourful cowslips and orchids decorate the surrounding grasslands. Decorated with numerous caves and rocky stacks, there are some great views to be had out across the Pentland Firth.
Strathy Bay is located just off the road leading through the hamlet of Strathy, with a free car park nearby, and is just over 20 miles west of Thurso. You can also follow the road from the car park to nearby Strathy Point, the last manned lighthouse to be built in Scotland.
Redpoint Beach, Wester Ross
Redpoint Beach lies on the coast of the Western Highlands, and is a secluded spot ten miles from Gairloch. It stands out thanks to its striking red and pink mix of sand and shingle, backed by dunes, rocks and grassy slopes. A stream also makes its way through the sands towards the sea. The views even continue out to sea, where excellent views over to the Isle of Skye and the Western Isles can be enjoyed. While sitting back and soaking up the views, you may even spot some wildlife too – gannets, sea-otters and even porpoises have all been sighted here.
A car park can be found at the small settlement of Redpoint, with a path a few hundred metres long leading down through the dunes until a gap opens up and the beach fully emerges. Another short path from the car park also leads to a viewpoint, which is well worth a quick walk to in order to enjoy the exceptional views from above.
Calgary Bay, Isle of Mull
One of Scotland’s most photographed beaches, Calgary Bay still remains a quiet and peaceful spot thanks to its remote location on the Isle of Mull. Tucked away on the north-west of the island, this beach of white shell sand is framed by craggy headlands and steep hills, home to a variety of birdlife and topped with ruined stone forts. The sands eventually meet the sea, with its clear blue waters which are normally seen on the other side of the Atlantic.
The Isle of Mull can be easily reached from the mainland via a ferry from Oban – once you’re on the island, however, a car is practically essential to get around. A car park is located behind the beach’s sand dunes, making it relatively easy to approach.
Traigh Mhor, Lewis
A short drive from the island capital of Stornoway, Traigh Mhor translates to ‘Big Beach’ in English, and lives up to its name, being two miles long. You can walk along the entire length of the beach’s gorgeous golden sands, or bask in the views from the top by trekking over the sand dunes. Its waves have also made Traigh Mhor a great find for surfers, though it still remains a well-kept secret. Surrounded by cliffs and sand dunes, this beach is the perfect place to seek solitude for the day.
Traigh Mhor is found just before the end of the road from Stornoway to the Bridge to Nowhere, where there is a car park as well as a public toilet.
Sanna Bay, Lochaber
The most westerly point in mainland Britain, Sanna Bay is a quiet and secluded beach on the edge of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. This magnificent beach has some of the most strikingly white sands and clearest blue waters you will ever see, with dolphins and whales to spot in the water making the bay all the more other-worldly. Surrounded by sand dunes and rocky points which divide the beach into sections, the beaches are decorated with clusters of rocks, and enjoy great views across the water to Skye, Eigg and Rum, with Ardnamurchan Point and its lighthouse also in your sights.
Despite being on the mainland, Sanna is relatively difficult to get to – visitors will need to navigate around 30 miles of single-track roads, passing a few small hamlets on the way. Take a right just past Kilchoan to drive through even more striking scenery – the crater of a long-extinct volcano, clad with heather.
Image: Jakub Solovsky
Just a few miles around the coast from Sandwood Bay lies Kearvaig, another wonderful beach close to Cape Wrath. Backed by towering cliffs, this sandy beach is wild and remote, with the waves lapping at the rocks surrounding the cove. It is certainly isolated, reached only by a hike a mile or two long from Cape Wrath, though the walk is well worth it for the views you’ll be able to enjoy at the end.
Looking out to some magnificent sea stacks standing proudly in the water, you may well be the only person on this spectacular beach. That’s not to say you’ll be completely alone, however, as you may see puffins and oystercatchers around you during your visit.
Achmelvich Bay, Sutherland
Follow a single-track road for three miles north-west of Lochinver and you will find Achmelvich Bay, yet another stunning beach found in this picturesque corner of Scotland. The bay features several small beaches nestled between the rocks and flower-topped headlands, backing onto impossibly blue waters. Steep tracks and a clamber over some smooth rocks takes you to perhaps its best-known beach, Vestey’s Beach.
There’s also some amazing views to be seen above this beach: Hermit’s Castle, a tiny castle and an architectural oddity found atop one of the rocky headlands, and the towering peak of Suilven, which dominates the skyline.
Gruinard Bay, Wester Ross
Decorated with rocky coves and pink sands, this collection of beaches enjoys great views out to sea as well as up to some unusual stones and the Northern Highlands behind. Steps lead from the road and the car park down through the dunes to the beach which is one of many hidden gems in this corner of Scotland.
There are some great walks to be had not only along the beach but also behind it, as you can follow the Gruinard River upstream through open valleys to discover Eas Dubh a Ghlinne Ghaibh, a stunning waterfall.
Brora Beach, Sutherland
Over on the eastern coast, Brora Beach remains, by and large, a peaceful and quiet beach, despite running alongside the area’s local golf course. Wild and unspoilt sands look out onto the North Sea and the Moray Firth, boasting bright blue waters. From the beach you can also look back onto the towering hills behind – a view which you won’t be able to take your eyes off at sunset. It’s a great spot for wildlife watching, as seals, otters, herons and terns can all be seen here, and you may even get to catch a glimpse of a dolphin or even a minke whale out at sea. The beach is also notable for its Jurassic rocks, rich in fossils.
Having a golf course nearby is convenient in that this beach enjoys the facilities of a car park, toilets and a café.
If these beaches have filled you with a sense of awe and curiosity, why not head to the Scottish coast to experience the serenity and beauty of these beaches for yourself? And to make getting to these remote beaches just that little easier, our collection of coastal cottages in Scotland ensures you needn’t travel far to feel the sand between your toes and the sea breeze in your hair.
If you’re looking to discover even more of Scotland’s best-kept secrets, check out our guide to the most rural places in Scotland. Here you’ll find even more hidden-away delights that you may even get to enjoy all to yourself.