Scotland might be better known for its majestic mountains and legendary lochs, but experienced travellers will tell you that it also has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. So, whether you’re longing for a relaxing day by the sea or an exciting water adventure, this country must be at the top of your bucket list of places to visit.
If you’re interested to learn more, check out this list of the top wild beach camping destinations you should consider. We will go over the best things each location offers and answer some questions you may have about the relevant wild camping laws in Scotland.
Top 10 places to go wild beach camping in Scotland
If you dream of spending the day camping, swimming, wildlife spotting, and engaging in water sports, we have listed below the best beaches to wild camp in Scotland. These fantastic destinations offer exciting opportunities to discover the rich marine ecosystem and experience nature at its best without spending a fortune on your accommodations.
1) Camusdarach Beach (Silver Sands), Morar
Many hail the Silver Sands of Morar as one of the most magnificent sights in the entire UK. Camusdarach Beach stuns visitors with its white sand, crystal clear water, and a breathtaking view of the rocky Small Isles.
What we love about this beach is how calm and peaceful it is. Since Camusdarach is situated within a bay, you won’t have to worry about giant waves ruining your plans to play or take a dip. Though several tourists gather here during summer, you can still find some secluded spots to pitch your wild camping tent and relax without being disturbed.
2) Luskentyre Sands, Isle of Harris
Located in the Outer Hebrides, the golden Luskentyre Sands in the Isle of Harris is ranked first by many travellers among the spectacular beaches on this side of the world. The main attraction of this top-tier camping destination is its vast stretch of gleaming sand that shines even brighter against the turquoise sea. A dramatic landscape formed by the surrounding mountains and islands completes the picture.
Campers won’t have a hard time finding a good spot for their tents in Luskentyre. The water is also relatively shallow and peaceful, so we suggest bringing a kayak or canoe to explore the area and immerse yourself in the scene before you.
3) Claigan Coral Beach, Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye takes pride in its numerous camping sites that should be experienced at least once in a lifetime. The Claigan Coral Beach is a great example. Unlike the other destinations in this list, this iconic beach is not made of sand or ground coral—as the name implies. Instead, the sand-like deposits are made of maërl seaweed crushed by the waves and hardened by sunlight. The result is nothing short of magical.
On a clear day, you can sit on the shore while listening to the lapping waves and watching the seals and sea otters that reside in the area. There are also some rock pools where you can find other tiny shelled marine creatures.
4) Calgary Beach, Isle of Mull
Though Calgary Beach is arguably the most popular beach in Mull, this secluded bay is still one of Scotland’s best wild beach camping locations. Named for the large, grassy meadow beside the beach, Calgary maintains an atmosphere of peace and calm. Its unspoilt white sands and seaside view appear like an idyllic, tropical haven in the Hebrides.
The beach welcomes campers throughout the year, but we recommend heading there during summer to try the special ice cream sold by a local family. Enjoy a scoop or two while walking along the coastline or playing beach games with your companions.
5) Thurso Beach, Caithness
This beach on the northern coastline of Scotland is a great camping location for surfers. It is overshadowed by the other famous beaches in the area, so you can truly reconnect with nature and enjoy riding the waves without the hassles brought in by a crowd. After all, this hidden gem faces the Atlantic Ocean—it can pose a tremendous challenge even to those with advanced skills in water sports.
In addition to its sandy shores, Thurso Beach also has interesting rocky sections, and if you time your trip well, you might even see the aurora borealis in the night sky. Be sure to pack extra thermal wear, though, because it can get chilly and windy over there.
6) Muasdale Beach, Muasdale
On the west coast of the Kintyre Peninsula lies Muasdale Beach. It does not usually draw the interest of most tourists, but wild campers flock to this area for an off-the-beaten-path experience. A family-run holiday park operates here, but you can pitch your tent near the beach to enjoy views of the Atlantic Ocean and the islands of Gigha, Islay, and Jura for a fraction of the cost.
Muasdale Beach is also an excellent site for wildlife watching. Without leaving your spot on its shores, you will likely see cormorants and eagles in the sky and some seals relaxing nearby.
7) Sango Sands, Durness
If you intend to drive through the North Coast 500 (NC500), this sandy beach in the village of Durness should be one of your stops. It is typically open to wild campers no matter the time of the year, but if you want to avail of campsite facilities, it operates from April to October.
Tents may be pitched on the cliff overlooking the sea. You can stay there and watch the sunset or look for bottlenose dolphins, whales, and seals that frequent the beach. Since it is away from major cities and tourist destinations, you may also see and take photos of the Northern Lights that often appear over it.
8) Sandwood Bay Beach, Sutherland
Despite its remote location in the northwest portion of the Scottish Highlands, Sandwood Bay remains one of the best wild camping beaches in Scotland because of its unspoilt natural beauty. Aside from the occasional debris washed up on its shores, the large, pink dunes on this beach look stunning against the azure water.
It’s important to note that Sandwood Bay does not have road access. This deters many travellers, thus allowing it to maintain its rugged yet beautiful appearance. Fortunately, the almost two-hour trek is worth the extra effort—just remember to bring your camera to capture the scenery and wildlife you pass by on the way to the beach.
9) Achmelvich Bay, Highland
Whether you enjoy fishing, kayaking or something more fast-paced like windsurfing, Achmelvich may be your top wild beach camping option. This sandy beach is located near another popular camping destination Ullapool and hosts a large volume of guests every summer. Consider going there during the off-season so that you can enjoy everything it has to offer at your own pace.
In addition to water-based activities, you can also camp in Achmelvich and use it as your base for a hiking trip to the surrounding mountains. Photographers and history lovers will also have their fill since there are interesting points to examine and capture no matter which direction you take.
10) Port Ban Beach, Isle of Iona
A camping trip in Iona will not be complete without going to the secluded Port Ban Beach. Locals usually spend their summers there, picnicking, relaxing, or swimming if they are brave enough to face the cool North Atlantic waters. Families also take their children to play on the sand or fly kites.
On the other hand, many campers tend to bring their favourite watercraft to paddle on the calm tides of Port Ban Beach. Others are content to comb the white sand for cowrie shells. The granite cliffs framing the shore make this Port Ban picture-perfect on all sides, too.
FAQs about the best beaches to wild camp in Scotland
Yes, wild camping on Scotland beaches is permitted. According to land reforms and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, anyone can explore and camp in most outdoor spaces as long as they observe the rules. Though variations exist from one place to another, the basics include camping in small numbers, staying in one place for two to three nights at most, and leaving no trace afterwards.
While the dunes on a beach seem like a great spot because they are soft and scenic, sandy surfaces cannot hold your tent well. Maintaining the interiors and your gear free from dirt and insects will also be challenging. Instead, look for stable ground above the tideline, preferably sheltered from the strong winds. Don’t forget to maintain distance from the local wildlife, roads, buildings, and fellow campers.
Plan Your Dream Wild Beach Camping in Scotland Now
With more than 9,600 kilometres of stunning coastline, Scotland is home to several fantastic locations for wild campers who love the open waters. We hope you found the place for your dream nature getaway among our suggestions for the best wild camping beaches in Scotland. But if you’re looking for more options to explore, why don’t you widen your search and consider wild camping in England, too?
Regardless of your choice, remember to observe the proper way to wild camp. This will help preserve the natural beauty of the places we visit and keep this outdoor activity open for everyone else to enjoy.
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