Absolute Escapes November 25 2020

There is something so magical about Scottish beaches. Whatever the weather, their golden sands, turquoise waters and stunning backdrops are captivating and charming, and I for one can’t get enough of them!

From Shetland to the Outer Hebrides and on to the Isle of Skye, Scotland has an abundance of incredible beaches, but as Scotland continues to grow as a must-see destination the desire to head to these stunning beaches only increases.

So, we’ve put together a list of our favourite secret beaches to get you off-the-beaten-track and help you avoid the crowds. We would have loved it if these beaches could have remained secret forever, but we also want to share the joy!


Sandwood Bay, Sutherland

Sandwood Bay is one of Scotland’s most remote, wild, and beautiful beaches. Facing the wrath of the North Atlantic and guarded by the commanding sea-stack, Am Buachaille, the 1.5 miles of pink sand gives a sense of seclusion, solitude and total wilderness.

As the public road stops 4 miles short of this spectacular beach it can only be reached by following a well-maintained path into the bay, managed by our friends at the John Muir Trust.

Sandwood Bay is known as one of the most unspoilt beaches in the whole of the UK and is well worth the long walk in.

How to get there: Travel to Kinlochbervie and then on to the small hamlet of Blairmore where you will find a small car park. Leave your car behind and begin on the stunning 4 mile walk towards the Bay.


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Mellon Udrigle Beach, Achnasheen

Mellon Udrigle Beach is a small, stunning and simply spectacular beach. It is located in the remote coastal hamlet of Mellon Udrigle, on the north-west coast of Ross-shire. Besides the amazing white sands and turquoise waters, Mellon Udrigle beach boasts one of the most breathtaking mountain vistas.

On a clear day, views to the north east include the unique shape of Suilven, near Lochinver, and the mountains of Coigach and Stac Pollaidh. To the south-east, the views take in An Teallach and a whole host of local peaks on the peninsula between Gruinard Bay and Loch Ewe.

There are not many descriptive words which really describe the picture-perfect view of the incredible blue shades of the sky blending into the sea. Mellon Udrigle is an unspoilt and stunning beach and is a true haven.

How to get there: From Poolewe, head towards Laide and onto the small hamlet of Mellon Udrigle. You will find an easily accessible car park on your right from which you can wander down to the beach.


Achmelvich Beach, Lochinver

Achmelvich Beach will forever have a very special place in my heart. Nestled along the Assynt coastline, Achmelvich is where I spent almost every summer from age 4 to 16, camping, exploring, discovering and swimming in the freezing cold (but absolutely stunning) sea.

Regardless of the number of times that I return to Achmelvich, I am always in awe of its beauty. It has the most golden sands, bluest of seas and the most breathtaking backdrop. It is peaceful, pristine and just perfect!

There is an abundance of things to be explored at Achmelvich: rich rockpools full of fascinating sea life, an equally stunning second beach just over the hill, and the smallest castle in Europe is also hidden in the surrounding hills of Achmelvich. Hermit’s Castle was built in the 1950s and may, in fact, be the smallest castle in the world, measuring less than 10m squared in area!

However, Achmelvich is no longer as secret as it used be, now being one of the most stunning beaches on the popular North Coast 500!

How to get there: Continue west from Lochinver, following signs for Achmelvich. Enjoy the stunning drive into the wilderness which provides breathtaking views across Loch Roe as you approach Achmelvich campsite. You will find a car park here where you can leave your car all day to explore the wonders of the beach.


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Balnahard Beach, Colonsay

When it comes to beaches, Colonsay certainly has its fair share, and visitors to the Isle are spoilt for choice. There are stunning stretches of pristine sand in every direction and whilst Kiloran Bay is Colonsay’s best-known beach, Balnahard is equally, if not more, beautiful.

Located on the northern shore of Colonsay, Balnahard beach boasts incredible views over to Mull, Scarba and Jura. Similar to Sandwood Bay, Balnahard is only accessible by a 3.5 mile walk from An Crosan, making it secluded and peaceful. Those who walk the sands have truly made the effort to be there.

How to get there: The start of the walk is where the track leaves the B8086. If you are using a car, it is usually possible to park inside the gateway on the left. The beach can also be reached by walking along the Old Road from Scalasaig.


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Balnakeil Beach, near Durness

Another North Coast 500 highlight is Balnakeil Beach. Located just north of Durness, Blanakeil Beach is a stunning, wide expanse of pristine white sand, backed by imposing sand dunes. It is also home to the remains of Balnakeil Church, built in 1614. This beach is an incredible hidden gem in the North of Scotland and with its azure blue seas and white sands, it’s hard to keep this one a secret!

As the beach faces west, it is known for its spectacular sunsets on a clear evening. So whenever you head to Blanakeil Beach you certainly won’t be disappointed by the views you are faced with.

How to get there: From Durness, head towards the golf club where you will find a car park just beside Elliot House. From here, enjoy the short walk into the beach.


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West Beach, Isle of Berneray

West Beach on the Isle of Bernerary wouldn’t seem out of place on the coastline of Asia, and that’s exactly what the Thai tourist board thought when they accidentally used a photo of West Beach to advertise Kai Bae beach!

West Beach boasts incredible views across Harris and has gorgeous turquoise seas and white sands. It is also a haven for wildlife including the corncrake.

The Outer Hebrides are home to some of the most spectacular beaches in Scotland, if not the world, including the incredible Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris. So wherever you go in the Outer Hebrides you certainly won’t be lacking an incredible beach to spend your day exploring.

How to get there: Begin at Bernerary Community hall, and follow a mix of minor roads and hilly ground to reach the beach. There are marker posts to guide you in the right direction!


Coral Beach, Isle of Skye

I know what you’re thinking, is anything really a secret on the Isle of Skye anymore? The popularity of Skye has skyrocketed (excuse the pun!) in recent years and has fast become a huge hit on Instagram after research showed it is the top European road trip destination with nearly double the hits of the Eiffel Tower in Paris!

However, Coral Beach situated on the north of Skye by the small crofting community of Claigan is a slightly hidden gem. A short walk takes you into one of the most beautiful coastal locations on Skye. With crystal clear waters and white sands, Coral Beach should definitely be a must-see on a trip to the Isle of Skye.

Remember to keep an eye for the seals that call this beach home!

How to get there: Travel to Claigan where you will find Claigan Coral Beach car park. From here follow the stunning walk in towards the beach.


Farr Bay Beach, Bettyhill

Another NC500 gem has made our list! Not only is Farr Bay breathtaking beautiful, but it also has a special place in our very own, Dawn Spence’s heart, as this is the spot of her engagement!

Farr Bay, located near Bettyhill on the north coast of Scotland, is another wildlife spotting paradise, home to otters, golden eagles and seals to name but a few. It is also a surfer’s paradise when the conditions allow!

This magnificent beach is pristine, unspoilt and definitely worth the detour of the NC500 to visit.

How to get there: Travel towards the Farr Bay Inn, where you will be able to leave your car close by and walk into the Bay.


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Seacliff Beach, East Lothian

Ready to escape the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh? A short 50-minute drive to the relatively secret corner of East Lothian will take you to the stunning Seacliff Beach, just 5 miles east of North Berwick.

Seacliff Beach is a private beach which requires you to pay £3 to enter the car park but is certainly worth the cost. The beach has incredible views of Bass Rock and across the Forth. It also immaculately clean and tidy (as all beaches should be!). The beach is home to an abundance of rock pools, full of incredible and interesting sea life to observe.

Most excitingly, the beach also provides stunning views of the majestic Tantallon Castle which appears to have been taken straight out of a fairytale!

How to get there: From North Berwick, travel in the direction of Tantallon Castle before heading towards Auldhame, where you will find a private road leading down to Seacliff Beach.


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Sea you at the beach?!

Whilst slightly biased, I would say Scotland is the front-runner for being home to some of the most spectacular, breathtaking and beautiful beaches in the world, making it really hard to keep them a secret!

If you do decide to visit any of these stunning beaches, remember to keep them pristine, clean, and somewhat secret!

Fern Urquhart

P.S. Established in Edinburgh in 2004, Absolute Escapes are award-winning specialists in self-drive holidays in Scotland. Our team have turned our love of exploring Scotland into our day job, and we know exactly where to find the best experiences. Send us an enquiry now and start planning your unforgettable tailor-made trip to Scotland!

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