If you know anything about Scotland, you’ll know the nation’s west coast is where most of its best beaches are at…
… so in this guide, I’ve sifted through all the shores and sands to bring you this: the best 21 beaches on the west coast of Scotland.
Expect close-to-towns busy beaches, in-the-middle-nowhere quiet spots, and endless descriptions of what’s basically 21 different versions of the same thing. As you’d expect, most of these beaches are in the north of the nation… but I’ve included some southern-stretch beaches too.
Pack a picnic, slip into your Speedos, and (with apologies to Marti Pellow) expect to get wet wet wet—here are the 21 best beaches on the west coast of Scotland!
1. Achmelvich Bay
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: Anyone hunting down the best of the best… or any Scot who wants to fool Instagram into thinking they’ve gone abroad.
Alright, we’re starting all remote and rural. Which might seem a strange place to kick things off… but loads of people reckon this is the very best beach in Scotland.
Sitting along the northern part of Scotland’s west coast (and also along the North Coast 500), this looks more like it should be sitting on the Mediterranean Coast (rather than in a country where it rains most of the time).
A blue-water semi-circular bay, it’s surrounded by white sands, mini mountainous mounds, and the popular Shore Caravan Site. It sits at the end of a single-track road, and it’s popular with swimmers, fishers, kayakers, and families. It’s around 40 miles (65km) north of Ullapool… and if you can only visit one west-coast Scottish beach, this should probably be your choice.
2. Big Sand Beach, Gairloch
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: Anyone hunting a big fat sandy beach (and anyone who has a vague interest in drinking some tangentially-related-to-Bob-Marley coffee).
Another North Coast 500 favorite, this big boy sits just west of Gairloch. It’s around 100 miles south of Achmelvich Bay, on the other side of Ullapool.
The name pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the place. It’s big… and it has a lot of sand.
It’s not as tropical or beautiful as some of the other west-coast Scottish beaches—but it’s popular with dog-walkers and families, it has loads of sand dunes, and it’s a nice spot for a swim.
If you want a popular beach in a lesser-populated part of Scotland, you’ve found it. It’s one of my favorites.
While you’re here, check out the nearby Hillbillies Coffee. This cafe and bookshop uses beans harvested and roasted by a company owned by one of Bob Marley’s sons. Niche!
3. Oldshoremore Beach
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: Anyone seeking an Achmelvich Bay alternative with fewer people.
Another north-of-the-west-coast option, Oldshoremore Beach sits at the very northern part of Scotland, relatively close to Durness. It looks pretty similar to Achmelvich Bay, but it’s not so well-known.
The water is bluey-green, the sands are golden-white, and both sides of the bay have green rocky mounds. Aside from swimming, walking and picnicking, there’s not a massive amount to do here…
… but if you want a quiet, unspoilt spot (or if you’re looking for a romantic sunset), it’s one of the best beaches on the west coast of Scotland.
4. Sandwood Bay Beach
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: Anyone seeking a juicy combo of silence, serenity, and lots of outdoor action… and if you want a pretty walk to reach an even-prettier beach.
Just north of Oldshoremore Beach, this place is more well-known than its nearby neighbor.
I reckon this one ticks all the boxes, and (although I’m probably gonna say this about a lot of other entries on this list cos I’m flakey and indecisive) I reckon it might be the very best beach on the west coast of Scotland.
Firstly, it’s massive. With 1.5 miles (more than 2km) of (pink!) sands, you’ll always find a peaceful place. It’s perfect for swimming and sunsets, or a romantic picnic.
It’s also home to a freshwater loch (Sandwood Loch, which bleeds into the sea), featuring lovely views and a whole load of brown trout.
… and best of all, you can only get here by tackling a 4-mile (6.5 km) walk—so you’ll never see many people. The walk is super pretty and super easy, featuring a load of varied views, and a couple of little lochs. It’s one of my favorite easy Scottish wanders.
5. Scourie Bay
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: Anyone who wants another tropical-style beach without putting in too much effort… or if you really like gawping at birds.
Not far south of both Oldshoremore Beach and Sandwood Bay, it’s Scourie Bay (or Scourie Beach, as some people prefer to call it).
Although it’s in a quiet part of the nation, it’s not as remote as some beaches we’ve already brought you. Because it sits right off the major A894 road, it’s easy to access, and you don’t need to work hard to get it.
It’s popular with families and dog-walkers…
… but it’s even better for anyone who likes birds. Plonk yourself down in one of the birdwatching hides, and you’ll probably see gulls, gannets, guillemots, and other birds whose names might or might nor begin with the G. For even more feathery friends, take a boat trip to nearby Handa Island, home to one of the biggest seabird breeding colonies in Europe.
6. Clachtoll Beach
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: People who want something similar to (but less busy than) Achmelvich Bay… or if you really like good campsites.
Right beside Achmelvich Bay, Clachtoll Beach is another option in this same northwestern pocket of Scotland.
(I’ll be heading to other parts of the nation soon, I promise).
And, honestly, it’s pretty similar to its neighbor. It’s a bit smaller, a bit quieter, and not so well-known. It’s good for swimming and picnicking, and it’s popular with dog-walkers. The little ranger’s hut has some juicy tidbits about local nature, geology and wildlife.
If you head to the little headlands at either side of the beach, you get great mountain views—and if you’re lucky, you might spot dolphins, whales and seals from these sands.
But the main perk of these shores is that they’re right beside Clachtoll Beach Campsite, one of the best campsites in Scotland. If you like cozy but well-equipped campsites, I massively recommend it.
7. Achnahaird Beach
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: People who like narrow bays—or anyone who wants to go rock-pooling with kids.
Also sitting close to the Achmelvich/Clachtoll area, Achnahaird Beach is one of the best bay-based options on our list.
Known amongst serene-sand-seekers for being one of the best beaches in all of Scotland (not just one of the best beaches on the west coast of Scotland), it sits in a tightly-packed inlet, which makes it feel all tucked-away and secretive.
You won’t find many other people here—but you will find lots of beautiful nearby lochs. Cycle to them, drive to them, whatever you fancy. But don’t leave them unexplored.
Achnahaird Beach is a pretty good option if you’re traveling with kids—when the tide is out, you’ll find loads of rock pools.
From the beach, you get great views of the endlessly-explorable mountains to the east. If you have time to tackle a hike here, I can’t recommend Stac Pollaidh enough. It’s one of my favorite treks in Scotland, and everyone loves it.
8. Ardmair Beach
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: Anyone in Ullapool who doesn’t want to venture very far.
Sitting only 3.5 miles (5km) north of Ullapool, Ardmair Beach is a good option if you’re staying in the town, and can’t be bothered with a lengthy drive.
Alright, it’s not one of the most beautiful beaches in this part of the world. And cos it’s a bit stoney and gray, it looks a little underwhelming (compared to some of the other shores we’ve covered.).
But it’s perfect for skimming stones, it’s quiet and pretty, and it’s a good swimming spot. And close-by, you have the ever-popular Ardmair Point Caravan & Camping Park, where you can nab a coffee and some snacks.
9. Gruinard Beach
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: People keen to explore what I reckon might be the very best beach on the west coast of Scotland.
This one is ridiculous.
Super pretty, it’s just west of Ullapool… and if you head here in summer, you’ll honestly feel like you’ve stumbled into [insert name of whatever Mediterranean country you think is the best comparison here].
Made up of three different but interlinking beaches, you get vast stretches of sand (some white, some pink), views of the Torridon Hills, lumpy outcrops, and lots of dog walkers.
In terms of stuff to do, this isn’t necessarily one of the best beaches on the west coast of Scotland. But in terms of sheer beauty, it absolutely is.
Oh, and as a nice bonus, these sandy stretches sit right off the A832 road, beside a convenient car park.
10. Coral Beach
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: Anyone adventuring around the Isle of Skye.
Okay, we’re finally moving away from the far northwestern part of Scotland.
Coral Beach sits on the western coast of the Isle of Skye (which, obviously, is an island off the [west] coast of Scotland). So this place is doubly western.
It’s famous for being home to ‘coral.’ But the coral isn’t really coral. Instead, it’s just a weird type of colorful algae.
Whatever the stuff is, Coral Beach is popular with pretty much everyone, and it’s got a lot to love. Highlights include a big lumpy outcrop with pretty panoramas, the nearby island of Lampay (which you can walk to when the tide is out), and close proximity to the iconic Dunvegan Castle.
11. Talisker Bay
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: Anyone who likes mixing sands and seas with a side-serving of waterfalls.
Another Isle of Skye option, Talisker Bay is just as famous as its (not-)corally cousin.
It’s wide and sandy, with plenty of space for walking, swimming, and playing with kids. And as a nice bonus (or maybe not a bonus, if you hate dogs), it’s dog-friendly, all year round.
It’s also a popular evening spot. Offering one of the best sunsets on the Isle of Skye, couples often venture here for a cute romantic evening.
But Talisker Bay is most famous for the lengthy narrow waterfall that sits at the eastern side of the shores. Though most people just stare at the waterfall from the beach, it’s also possible to wander close to it along a (very rocky) trail. If you’re all fleet-footed, I recommend it.
12. Luskentyre Sands, Outer Hebrides
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: Anyone who wants to get really really remote—or anyone who wants to hit a loopy bike ride from a beach.
Luskentyre Sands sits on the Isle of Harris, which is northwest of the Isle of Skye. Routinely nominated as one of the best beaches in the whole of the UK, it’s vast and sandy, and there’s endless space to stroll and swim.
You also get loads of dunes, excellent sunsets, and views of close-by Taransay Island.
Warning: the tides here can be deceptively strong. So go for a swim, but be careful. The Travelness team don’t want you to die.
If you’re into big outdoor adventures, I recommend hopping on a bicycle, and riding in a 35-mile (55km) loop from Lusentrye Sands and back. Just south of the beach, this circular ride brings you to loads more little beachy bays (and some great villages, hills, and single-track roads).
13. Dail Beag Beach
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: People who want to be surrounded by (probably) absolutely no-one… or anyone seeking a quiet clifftop wander.
One more Outer-Hebrides option, Dail Beag Beach is one of the quietest options on our list.
Another bay-based beauty-fest, it’s pretty narrow, and feels very secluded.
Most well-known for intense waves (I don’t know why, I’m not a scientist), a sea stack, and a load of rocky cliffs, it’s atmospheric and isolated. And unless you come here right in the heart of summer, you’ll likely see nobody else.
If you’re looking for a fun outdoor adventure here, head east from the beach for as long as you fancy. There’s a lengthy trail running along cliffs, outcrops, and loads of other beaches. I recommend wandering for approx 8 miles (13km), to Shawbost Beach and back… but it’s possible to go much further.
14. Calgary Beach
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: Sunset-seekers, and anyone with kids.
Another west-coast Scottish beach, another island entry.
This sandy spectacular sits on the Isle of Mull, one of Scotland’s most underrated islands… and if you’re on that island, this is the #1 beach I recommend.
It’s different from most other shores we’ve brought you so far—largely surrounded by flat fields and grass plains, it’s not super dramatic. But it’s quiet and cozy—and you’ll probably see more sheep here than people.
It’s dog-friendly, and because it has rock pools and shallow water, it’s a good choice for anyone with kids.
And on top of all that, I reckon this is the best sunset spot on all of Mull.
Under-the-radar, underexplored, unreservedly recommended!
15. Camusdarach Beach
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: People hunting a tropical-looking beach that’s not too far north.
Sitting south of Skye, we’re finally making our way along the southern stretches of mainland Scotland.
Again, this looks like something from a different country. Most people, when you show them a picture of Camusdarach Beach, will say “are you sure that’s Scotland?”. Just like my friend did, when I showed him a photo.
But, yep, this place definitely is in Scotland. I promise.
Just south of Mallaig, it looks pretty similar to some of the northern beaches I’ve covered. So if you want a not-too-far-north beach that looks all tropical, this is one of the best beaches on the west coast of Scotland.
Sandy and big, it’s good for swimming, walking, rock-pooling and lazing around, and it’s popular with pretty much all types of people.
16. Samalaman Bay
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: People looking for an underrated beach close to Mallaig.
South of Mallaig (and south of Camusdarach Beach), I’m not really sure why this tongue-twisting bay isn’t more well-known…
… but if you’re hunting for a lesser-known beach in the south of the nation, this is a perfect pick.
Though it’s not great for swimming (the close-by parts of the sea here are shallow) it’s good for dog-walking, romantic strolls, sunsets, and the views of the other Scottish peninsula it overlooks (to the north).
When you’re done, the close-by Glenuig Inn serves up some tasty no-frills pub classics.
17. Ganavan Sands
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: Anyone visiting Oban!
This is the #1 beach close to Oban.
Sitting just north of the mega-famous harbor town, it’s wide and sandy, it’s home to some strange stone circles, and loads of great hikes and bike rides go through here (including the massively-recommended Caledonia Way).
And in terms of finding nearby stuff to do, this might just be the very best beach on the west coast of Scotland. As you probably know, Oban serves up a massive range of adventures and activities, including boat trips (to distant islands, bird colonies, and seal colonies), the best seafood in Scotland (controversial but true), and some excellent hikes (both long and short).
If you’re looking for a great beachy base, you honestly won’t find better than this. You’ll love it, your kids will love it, and you’ll find endless stuff to do.
18. Largs Bay Beach
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: People seeking action-packed shores close to Glasgow.
Largs Bay Beach is big, family-friendly, and backed by the meals, morsels and endless conveniences of Largs town.
Because it’s mainly rocky, the beach isn’t really a sunbathing spot… but it’s perfect for dog-walking, and shell-collecting, and flinging pebbles into the sea.
Other highlights include nearby trails along Gogo Water, a pretty promenade, a kids’ playground, and close proximity to the super-weird Kelburn Castle.
And for further adventures, you can hop on a ferry from here to the nearby outdoor-adventure island of Great Cumbrae.
Obviously, it’s easiest to reach Largs with your own car. But (surprisingly) you can also get from Glasgow to the town via a direct train—and the station is only a 5-minute walk from the beach.
19. Ayr Beach
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: Couples with young kids, and anyone who wants endless access to ice cream and fish and chips.
Ayr Beach is one of the most populated options we’ve featured. So if you’re looking for a convenience-packed family-friendly choice, this is one of the best beaches on the west coast of Scotland.
It’s long and sandy, so it’s good for swimming, building sandcastles, and letting your kids run around. And because it’s absolutely huge, there’s always a decent amount of space… no matter how nice the weather gets.
It’s close to arcade-style amusements, mini golf, a soft play area, kids’ parks, the fun-filled Head of Ayr Farm Park, and loads more child-friendly adventures.
And on top of all that, you also get lots of useful conveniences, endless family-friendly chow-down spots (make sure you munch some fish and chips at Marco’s), and a couple of caravan parks.
For anyone with kids, west-coast Scottish beaches don’t get much better than this. And because it’s far south, it’s a good option for anyone venturing up from England.
20. Troon Beach
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: People who like busy beaches with bustle… and anyone traveling with kids.
Probably the most popular and busy of all the Scottish west-coast beaches we’ve brought you, Troon Beach sits just north of Ayr Beach.
Again, if you’re looking for a family-friendly spot, you’ll love it. A big curved sandy bay, it’s popular with kite-fliers, windsurfers, yachters, walkers, and sunbathers. It’s clean and tidy, it’s good for swimming, and the promenade is popular with wanderers and cyclists.
Nearby highlights include other sands (Barassie Beach is great), some playgrounds, a cute harbor, and lip-smacking fish and chips at the Wee Hurrie.
And as a nice bonus, the beach is just a 5-minute walk from Troon railway station… so although it’s in a small place, it’s easy to reach.
21. Girvan Beach
🌊 Who’ll like this beach best: Anyone seeking a southern close-to-civilisation beach… and people who like cozy harbors.
Girvan Beach sits, unsurprisingly, in the pretty harbor town of Girvan…
… and that makes it the most southern beach on our list.
The beach itself is nothing particularly special, and you don’t get the vistas and views served up by some of the other entries on this list. But it’s massive, expansive, sandy and safe, and it’s great if you’re looking for kid-friendly or dog-friendly.
And both on the beach and close to it, there’s loads of family-friendly stuff. Highlights include pedalos, arcade games, ice cream, fish and chips, the harbor, a playground, the Water of Girvan riverside, a community garden, and a little lighthouse. And if you head to nearby Galloway Forest Park, you’ll find loads of walks (some flat and easy, some surprisingly scenic and tough).
All in all, if you’re looking for a west-coast Scottish beach where your kids (and you!) won’t get bored, you’ve found it.
Before You Go
That’s it—we’ve finished our big tidal trip along all the best beaches on the west coast of Scotland.
Obviously, you’re not gonna have time to visit them all. So if you want well-known but remote, go to Achmelvich. If you want super-remote, check out Luskentyre Sands. If you want family-friendly and accessible, head to Ayr Beach.
If you somehow got your directions wrong, and you’re here because you actually wanted to learn about the best beaches on the east coast of Scotland, we’ve covered that too.
Thanks for reading, thanks for checking out Travelness, and thanks for being you. Bye!
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