Scottish holiday spots and seaside resorts fell from favour in the 1960s, when affordable air travel lured Scots to the Mediterranean. But seaside thrills now attract sporty visitors back to beaches in towns and cities and even further afield to the white sands and windy bays of the west coast.
t People walking their dogs on the sandy bay at Portobello on a winter afternoon
Scotland’s biggest cities are never far fromthe coast, and each has, within a manageable distance from the city centre, their own seaside resort. Once teeming with holidaymakers, these city beaches now offer a quiet escape for both locals and visitors alike. Stroll along the sand, eat fish and chips and ice cream, paddle in the shallows or, if you’re feeling brave, swim further out. Portobello Beach offers a breath of fresh sea air only 8 km (5 miles) from central Edinburgh, and it hosts a summer sandcastle competition and sand sculpture festival. Gullane, 35 km (22 miles) from the city, offers long breezy walks on a vast stretch of sand. On the west coast, Largs has been a great escape for Glaswegians since the 19th century.
The Atlantic rollers that sweep Tiree’s shores make this tiny Hebridean island a surfers’ mecca. Year-round Atlantic swell and the sheer variety of surf on offer – from those elusive barrel waves to gentler whitewater beach breaks – make this an ideal destination for both seasoned surfers and beginners. What’s more, the island claims more hours of sunshine than anywhere else in Britain, and with waters warmed by the Atlantic Gulf Stream, you may well forget you’re in Scotland.
In the Outer Hebrides, the island of Barra’s impressive Traigh Mhor (big beach) doubles as the island’s airport, with tiny planes from the mainland scheduled to arrive at low tide so they can land on its flat sandy bay. For even more spectacular strands you must cross the causeway that links Barra to Vatersay. Its crescents of white sand may be the most beautiful of all Scotland’s beaches.
The thousands of beaches scattered around Scotland’s 10,000-mile (16,500-km) coastline range from tiny, hidden coves to endless white sandy bays and turquoise lagoons that, on a sunny day, can look more like the Caribbean than Scotland. Morar, north of Fort William, is famed for its chain of pink and silver beaches, while Hebridean beauties like Seilebost on Harris astound with stunning aquamarine colour palettes and dazzling white sands.
DISCOVER Scotland Your Way
The Espy, Portobello
Aussie gastropub right on the seafront. Their homemade ginger beer packs a punch.
Cromar’s Classic Fish and Chips, St Andrews
Twice acclaimed as Scotland’s finest chippie, and serving up a quality fish supper since 2013.
The Carron Fish Bar, Stonehaven
Birthplace ofthe notorious deep-fried Mars Bar, a uniquely Scottish delicacy.
The Lobster Shack, North Berwick
This seasonal beach hut serves is famed for its fresh locally caught lobster.
This classic ice-cream parlour has been an Art Deco landmark on Largs esplanade for more than 100 years.