Beach life

Beaches on the Isle of Skye

Beaches on the Isle of Skye

One of the most beautiful places on earth, the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Hebrides is a place of pure majesty. Home to an incredible array of natural landmarks and attractions, from fairy pools to towering Cuillins to incredible beaches, its landscapes brood with raw drama and wild beauty.

Particularly striking, the Isle of Skye’s heavenly beaches provide a stark contrast to the jagged peaks in the heart of the island. Remarkably exotic, they are among the most beautiful in the world – easily rivalling the likes of the Caribbean with brilliant turquoise waters and New Zealand with jaw-dropping mountainous backdrops. Among some of the incredible places to visit in the Hebrides, these gorgeous beaches soften the island’s edges with powder-fine white sands and call to adventurers of all ages looking to lose themselves in unparalleled natural beauty for a while.

If you have never explored these Hebridean wonders before, here’s our guide to some of the best beaches on the Isle of Skye.

Coral Beach

The sweeping white coral and sandy beach at Coral Beach on the Isle of Skye

Skye’s Coral Beach at Claigan makes for one of the most exciting destinations in all the Hebrides. Perched on the end of a rocky fingertip on the Waternish Peninsula, this famous beach near Dunvegan Castle and Gardens is one that attracts wanderers, photographers and nature-lovers from near and far for its stunning aesthetics. Though at first glance its pristine, white foreshore may look like sand, you'll find this beach is actually made up of crushed red coralline seaweed, making it all the more unusual and all the more intriguing. To get there, park at the small Coral Beach car park nearby (arriving early to secure a space) and walk the half a mile or so down to the beach.

Elgol Beach

Incredible stones and rock formations at sunset on Elgol Beach on the Isle of Skye

The pint-sized hamlet of Elgol is scattered along the shores of Loch Scavaig at the tip of the Strathaird peninsula. Reached via a stunning drive through the Red Cuillins and the Strath Suardal valley, it affords gorgeous views on the way which open up and stretch across the sea towards the Small Isles upon arrival. While it’s easy enough to while away the hours on the village’s tidal beach, exploring its every corner and skimming stones over the water, you can also take part in some excellent local activities here too. A real highlight, you can join guided boat trips on either the Misty Isle and Bella Jane across Loch Scavaig to Loch Coruisk (“cauldron of water”) - a long and narrow glacial loch sandwiched between the highest peaks of the Black Cuillins.

Camas Daraich

The white sands and blue seas at Camas Daraich on the Isle of Skye

Also known as Rubha Shlèite Beach, Camas Daraich on the Point of Sleat is a firm favourite on the Isle of Skye for its magnificent scenery and views of mainland Scotland. Boasting the kind of beauty that sees the Isle of Skye used as the setting for many television series and films, its blanket of white sand unfurls towards a crystal-clear sea that, despite chilly water temperatures, looks thoroughly inviting. To get to this hidden gem , drive along the small single track road from Armadale for about 5 miles to Aird. In Aird resides a small car park, and from there the walk is two miles to the beach.

Armadale Bay

Boats sitting in the water of Armadale Bay, with the pebble beach and trees behind

Adjacent to the village of Armadale at the southern end of Skye’s Sleat peninsula, Armadale Bay Beach on the Sound of Sleat is a lovely little cove that’s popular with all generations. Surrounded by local conveniences and connected to Scotland’s mainland via the Mallaig to Armadale Ferry, it offers the perfect touch of Skye’s wilderness without having to venture too far from amenities in Armadale (as well as in nearby Ardvasar). For a dose of history, you can head to Armadale Castle and Gardens, or if you are looking for some great watersports to try in the Hebrides, head seaward. Running most of the year (the depths of winter aside), operators like South Skye Sea Kayak lead guided sea kayaking trips and coaching sessions from Armadale (as well as from Ord on Loch Eishort).

Talisker Beach

The sandy beach and towering cliffs at Talisker Bay on the Isle of Skye

Talisker Beach is situated on the Isle of Skye’s west coast, affording uninterrupted views towards South Uist. Decorated with a stunning waterfall and a grey sand and pebble shore, it’s one of the island’s top beaches and one that can be accessed following a walk of less than a mile from the nearest car park. It’s also only around 5 miles from Carbost village on Loch Harport – home of the famous Talisker, one of the most famous whisky distilleries on Skye. The perfect dram, Talisker’s whiskies embody the wildness, purity and beauty of the island for a true taste of Skye. For the best time to visit Talisker beach, head over at low tide to make the most of its sandy underbelly before its covered by the sea. Whisky, optional!

Bearreraig Bay

The shingle beach with towering green cliffs in the background of Bearreraig Bay on the Isle of Skye

Set at the foot of the Old Man of Storr, Bearreraig Bay on the east coast of Skye is one of the most curious of the island’s beaches. Not to be confused with Borreraig (although there are some great walks there), this rocky beach is famed for its proliferation of fossils that can often be found along its shores. While the beach may look unassuming enough, it is actually composed of hundreds of metres of sedimentary rock that was deposited during the Jurassic period and pushed to the earth’s surface due to volcanic activity and coastal erosion. Laying bare the fossils of yesteryears, Bearreraig is renowned for its unique historic finds, including marine animals and invertebrates like squid-esque belemnites.

An Corran Beach

Sand, rocks, and impressive cliffs at An Corran Beach on the Isle of Skye

On the northeast coast of the Isle of Skye’s Trotternish peninsula you’ll find An Corran Beach. Around a mile from the township of Staffin (An Taobh Sear), this small cove is carpeted in volcanic black sand and, excitingly, is the site of genuine dinosaur footprints. According to scientists, these Jurassic footprints can be dated back 166 million years, when a group of carnivorous Megalosaurus dinosaurs walked across the mud here beside (what was then) a warm, shallow sea. Preserved by layers of mud which then acted as a protective shield, these incredible footprints can still be seen today at low tide. Like most beaches in Skye, this beach has no facilities, but its remote beauty and Jurassic finds make it all the more appealing.

Camasunary Bay

The sweeping Camasunary Bay on the Isle of Skye

Off the beaten track, Camasunary Beach in the south of Skye requires a little determination to get to, but is well worth the effort if you can. Surrounded by the Cuillin Mountains that flourish snow-capped peaks in winter, it parades the kind of untouched, other-worldly beauty that is hard to put into words. Being one of the island’s harder-to-reach beaches, it’s also one of the best for wildlife watching too, with its quiet shores being visited by a range of wildlife species including seabirds and seals. To get there, park at Camasunary car park and follow the trail from here for around 2 miles to arrive at the beach.

Glenbrittle Beach

Beautiful flat waters at sunset at Glenbrittle Beach on the Isle of Skye

Within the shadow of the Black Cuillins in the north of Skye (on the same peninsula as the island’s fairy pools and glen), Glenbrittle Beach is found at the head of Loch Brittle. Home to a dark sand beach, this stunning bay sits within a triple SSI National Landscape and attracts admirers from near and far for its jaw-dropping scenery. A rare advantage along this secluded stretch of coast, this beach also enjoys the luxury of being served by the award-winning Glenbrittle Café, open in summer for drinks, food and snacks. On the beach itself, low tide reveals a large expanse of sand surrounded by cliffs from which waterfalls can often be seen tumbling into the sea from nearby burns. The most spectacular, the ‘Demon Shower’, marks the arrival of the Allt na Buaile Duibhe river and its descent into the sea.

Portree Bay

The pretty houses along the water of Portree on the Isle of Skye

The capital town of the Isle of Skye, Portree is a real hub of activity. Home to some of the best restaurants on Skye, attractions and events, it’s the largest town on the whole island and one of the top bases for adventures. Of course, it’s also home to a small pebble beach overlooked by multicoloured cottages that provides a peaceful spot to sit, wander and indulge in alfresco picnics. At the foot of the town, it’s one of the island’s most accessible beaches and is often busy with the comings and goings of local fishermen and boaters with moorings in the bay. With gorgeous mountain views and lots of local facilities and eateries nearby, this is a great beach for all generations.

Ready to immerse yourself in the wild beauty of Skye’s beaches and coast? Discover our luxury cottages on the Isle of Skye here.

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