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12 beaches you need to visit in the north and north-east – from Nairn to Brora

There are so many fantastic beaches in the north and north-east to enjoy.

Hit up the beach this summer. Image: by Scott Baxter/DC Thomson.
Hit up the beach this summer. Image: by Scott Baxter/DC Thomson.

A day at the beach is the perfect summer activity. And if you are looking for a beach to explore – there’s plenty along the coastline in Aberdeenshire, Moray and the Highlands. We’ve compiled a list of 12 great ones to choose from – including Nairn, Brora and Balmedie.

1. Nairn Beach

People at Nairn beach.
Nairn beach. Picture by Sandy McCook.

Arguably one of the best (and cleanest) beaches in the north of Scotland is located in Nairn, stretching along sandy shores with a stunning view of the Moray Firth towards Cromarty. Throughout the summer, the beach is frequently populated by families from near and far as they soak up the sun with a picnic beside the dunes.

The coastline is also home to a school of dolphins, which some lucky visitors may be able to spot on a clear day.

2. Balmedie Beach, Aberdeen

Serene view of Balmedie beach.
Climb the dunes at Balmedie. Image: Shutterstock.

Many days have been spent tackling the sand dunes at Balmedie to see the glorious beach of Balmedie. Take a picnic out while the kids roam the playground park before venturing off along the shores themselves. Explore miles of sand and nature trails around the area and catch sight of the wind farm in the distance.

3. St Combs Beach, Aberdeenshire

Clear skies at St Combs beach.
Get out to the Broch this summer. Image: Shutterstock.

The remote beach of St Combs is backed by hills and grassy dunes from Fraserburgh to Peterhead. Taking a walk along the shore is a great way to stretch your legs and get those steps in for the day during early mornings, where visitors might catch a glimpse of the sunrise, or an evening stroll to unwind.

4. Sinclair’s Bay/Reiss Beach, Highland

Scenic view of Sinclair’s Bay/Reiss Beach.
Grab the surfboard and get ready to hit the waves. Image: Shutterstock.

Sinclair’s Bay, in Caithness, known locally as Reiss Beach, is a paradise coated in white sands with 16th century castles at both ends. The beach itself is split in half by a stream and is surrounded by high cliffs and sand dunes, keeping the south side tucked away from the wind.

This location is a popular sport for surfers looking for a top quality beach to catch waves and go for a paddle. In addition to this, seabirds and marine life can also be spotted on occasion, including seals and orcas.

5. Findhorn Beach, Moray

View of Findhorn beach with colourful huts.
Findhorn is the perfect weekend getaway. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson.

Near the village of Findhorn is the eponymous beach which offers a fantastic place to birdwatch or go for a leisurely stroll along the white sandy shore.

A number of fascinating features can be spotted on the journey such as a line of large concrete tank traps from World War II to prevent tanks from being offloaded on the beach and driving inland, and a modern collection of vibrant beach huts are also on location.

6. Claigan Coral Beach, Isle of Skye

Clear blue sea at Claigan Coral Beach.
Stunning sights at Skye. Image: Shutterstock.

The Isle of Skye’s beloved “wee gem” makes for a wonderful outing with friends and family. At low tide, you can venture out to the tidal island of Lampay as well as enjoying the tropical-esque sea that looks straight out of a holiday magazine. Dip your toes in the water, close your eyes and let the sun shine down on you.

7. Talisker Beach, Isle of Skye

Take the hike to Talisker Beach where you will have a magnificent view of the surrounding area before travelling over to the see the waterfall. The beach and scenery are gorgeous. The journey from the carpark to the beach is fairly short, carrying extra equipment such as picnics is a walk in the park for anyone looking to spend the day relaxing.

8. Sandwood Bay, Highland

White sand and clear skies at Sandwood Bay, Kinlochbervie.
What wildlife will you spot here? Image: Kevin Lelland.

Sandwood Bay is home to an array of wildlife, including the rare Great Yellow bumblebee, fulmars, guillemots, razorbills and many more.

This is considered to be the UK’s most beautiful beach, backed by high dunes and a loch. There is a lengthy hike to get to the actual beach but all those extra steps pay off once you arrive and are met with the scenery.

9. Newark Bay, Orkney Islands

In true Orkney fashion, birdlife is at a high at Newark Bay, and visitors might also be lucky enough to spot the seals in the water. Newark Bay is a great beach for small boat owners to set sail as well as having an expansive shore for other visitors to take a walk along and catch the views over Copinsay, Burray and South Ronaldsay.

10. Lossiemouth East Beach, Moray

East beach, Lossiemouth
Great for a casual stroll. Image: Chloe Irvine.

In the seaside town of Lossiemouth, tourists often flock to its East Beach. The pebbly beach is brilliant for spotting the dolphins out in the distance, and is also the place to be for birdwatching.

Take full advantage of the warm weather at one of the many several cafes with outdoor seating areas and watch as the day passes by.

11. Aberdeen Beach

Man kitesurfing at Aberdeen Beach.
Join in on the fun. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson.

Scope out a variety of cafes and restaurants along the boulevard as you watch the waves crash down on the sands of Aberdeen beach.

Afterwards, head inside Codona’s for a quick blast of the arcade games and rides where you can also grab carnival-style snacks to keep you going for the rest of the day.

12. Brora Beach, Highland

Brora Beach, Highland.
Grab the picnic basket. Image: Craig McLeod.

The rural golden beach of Brora is complete with Jurassic rocks and a sloping sea front. Visitors have often spotted a variety of wildlife nearby, such as dolphins, minke whales, and grey and common seals off the coastline, and is a perfect location to set up a picnic with benches along the seafront.