Top 5 beaches in the Outer Hebrides

23 January | 6 min read
Beach on the Isle of Vatersay, Outer Hebrides

If you’re looking for stunning vistas, dramatic coastlines, and secluded beaches, the Outer Hebrides should be at the top of your travel list.  Situated off Scotland’s West Coast, these remote islands boast powdery sands and azure waters that rival the Caribbean! Some of these beaches in the Outer Hebrides are only accessible by boat, making them the ideal stop on a Scottish sailing holiday.

In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to our top five beaches in the Outer Hebrides.

1. Mingulay Beach, Mingulay

Nestled on the uninhabited island of Mingulay, this beach showcases dramatic cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and the mysterious remnants of an abandoned village. Only accessible by boat, as you approach the island, the towering cliffs frame a stunning white sandy beach, waiting to be explored. Last inhabited in 1912, the remains of the abandoned village can still be seen today. The rich history of Mingulay shines through as you explore across the island, with evidence of prehistoric settlements and a medieval chapel dedicated to St Michael. Wildlife has certainly taken over these islands, with large populations of seabirds perfect for a spot of wildlife watching whilst relaxing on the beach.

2. Loch na h-Uide and Traigh a’ Siar, Taransay

As the largest uninhabited island in Britain, Taransay boasts two pristine beaches that run parallel to one another, linking both sides of the island. Loch na h-Uide, a sheltered lagoon, offers a picturesque spot for anchoring, Scottish wild swimming and kayaking. This beach is designated as a Special Area of Conservation, providing a refuge for various bird species, including oystercatchers and redshanks. On the other side of the connecting ‘land bridge,’ Traigh a’ Siar unfolds as a three-mile stretch of white sand. This stretch of beach invites you to enjoy a leisurely stroll and sunbathe on a secluded stop off the boat. Taransay’s appeal lies in its wildlife and unspoiled nature, making it a haven for those seeking connection with the natural world.

3. Hirta Bay on St Kilda, Scotland

Hirta Bay is located on the archipelago of St Kilda, the most remote destination in the British Isles, otherwise known as ‘The Islands at the Edge of the World’. St Kilda is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognised for its exceptional natural beauty and unique wildlife. The coastline here is a nesting ground for thousands of seabirds, including the iconic puffins and gannets. As you approach Hirta Bay, you’ll be greeted by the sight of the historic village and church, preserved by the National Trust for Scotland as a testament to the resilience of the island’s former inhabitants. The combination of natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and an incredible array of wildlife, makes Hirta Bay one of the most unique and special beaches in Scotland. Only accessible by boat, Hirta Bay is a truly special stop on our sailing holidays to the Outer Hebrides.

4. Bosta Beach, Isle of Lewis

If ancient history and stunning surroundings are high on your list, a visit to Bosta Beach on the Isle of Harris is sure to delight. Along the fringes of this pristine beach lies the Bosta Iron Age settlement, dating back thousands of years. In 1992 a storm exposed an ancient village hidden under the sand dunes. A later excavation revealed a well-preserved settlement from the Late Iron Age. Due to the vulnerability of the original structures to erosion, they were allowed to return back to nature. A life-size reconstruction of an Iron Age home now stands on the edge of this beach, offering visitors insight into early settlers’ lives. While the beach itself may be small in size, it’s peaceful location in a sheltered valley makes it the perfect location to stop and appreciate the island’s natural beauty and rich history.

5. Traigh a Bhaigh, Vatersay

Located on the island of Vatersay, Traigh a Bhaigh offers breathtaking views of the uninhabited islands of Sandray, Pabbay, and Mingulay. Vatersay is the southernmost inhabited island of the Outer Hebrides, boasting an incredible array of landscapes, blending sandy beaches, machair grasslands, and rocky shores. The beach of Traigh a Bhaigh, or East Beach, is also host to colonies of seabirds, including razorbill, gannet, guillemot, and puffins. A regular stop on our sailing holidays to the Outer Hebrides, Traigh a Bhaigh has a deep sheltered bay, ideal for anchoring and tender excursions ashore, or making use of onboard kayaks and paddleboards to explore the stunning coastline up close.

Ready to set sail and explore the beaches in the Outer Hebrides?

The Outer Hebrides is a truly unique destination, and the best way to experience its natural beauty and cultural significance is undoubtedly onboard a sailing holiday, island hopping and exploring somewhere new each day with small groups of like-minded individuals. From the rugged seclusion of St Kilda to the tranquil waters of Vatersay, the best beaches in the Outer Hebrides offer a truly unforgettable experience. If you’d like to experience these fantastic Outer Hebrides beaches for yourself, why not join us on a Scottish sailing holiday?