Blue Scotland's Guide: The Five Best Wild Swimming Spots in the Outer Hebrides
Blue Scotland is a guidebook to Scotland's wild Blue Spaces for wild swimming, paddle boarding, surfing, and kayaking. One of the best parts of researching the book was our time spent in the Outer Hebrides. We travelled up this incredible archipelago from South to North, jumping on and off of CalMac Ferries and swimming in some of Scotland's most incredible wild swimming locations.
Here are the top five:
1. The Isle of Vatersay
Lying directly below the Isle of Barra is the most southerly inhabited island of the Outer Hebrides archipelago, Vatersay. Vatersay pinches in at the waist, where the ocean has eroded the land. This has created two large bays with a narrow strip of land down the middle where the road weaves through.
On the westerly side of the road you have the beach of Traigh Shiar and on the easterly side you have Traigh a Bhaigh, two beaches in very close proximity but with very different characteristics. The beach to the west is exposed to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean, it is a great surfing and windsurfing destination but not for wild swimming. In comparison the beach to the east is often as flat as a millpond facing towards the mainland of Scotland and much less effected by the Atlantic swell and a great place for a dip into the crystal-clear waters.
2. The Prince's Strand, Eriskay
If you take the CalMac ferry from Barra to Eriskay, make sure you are on deck to witness the first glimpses of this beach. The Prince's Strand is a glorious sight with sand as white as any Caribbean Island and ocean as blue as the Mediterranean.
The Prince's Strand is a super-accessible beach right next to the road and ferry terminal. Don't be tempted to just exit the ferry and push on with your journey north, a dip in the ocean here will do wonders for your mind, body and soul.
3. Scolpaig, North Uist
Scolpaig is known for its stunning tidal pool. Accessed at low tide, this is a natural swimming pool with a gentle rock slope leading down to the water is perfect for a splash about amongst beautiful surroundings.
This isn't the easiest beach to access and involved a half mile walk down a track, but it is well worth persevering for a chance to swim in this sheltered spot.
4. Luskentyre, Isle of Harris
Luskentyre is believed by many to be the jewel in the crown of Scottish beaches, and as soon as you arrive there, it is easy to see why. Taking a dip at this beach is a must for any journey on the Isle of Harris.
A vast expanse of golden sand leads down to crystal clear water that glitters in invitation, but rather than the ocean stretching into a distant flat horizon, as we're used to, towering mountains rise above the sea from North Harris on the right, whilst the island of Taransay lies in front of you, sheltering the beach from much of the Atlantic swell.
A small, secluded, sandy paradise found at the end of a 12-mile-long single-track road. As you crest the final hill, the golden sands of Husinis appear in the distance.
At first glance, Huisinis beach might seem rather diminutive in comparison to the vast spaces of some of the Isle of Harris' more famous counterparts, however there is something for everyone here. It is an incredible spot for wildlife spotting, rock pooling wild swimming, snorkelling and paddle boarding.
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