They were some of the best kept secrets, but not for much longer, as 10 top beaches have been revealed – with the north and north-east claiming the top spots.
The list includes a number of spots across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and the Highlands, and has been revealed following a recent study by high-street shoe shop Clarks.
More than 5,000 TripAdvisor attractions, beaches, forests, parks and hiking trails were analysed and ranked with the lowest number of reviews, but highest concentration of five-star ratings in the most secluded spots in the country.
Coming in firmly at the top of the list, with 93% five-star reviews, is the beach at Newburgh, favoured among seal spotters.
Home to a 400-strong colony of seals, this golden stretch of sandy beach is described as “beautiful with breath-taking views”.
Polin Beach in Sutherland claimed second place, with its turquoise waters and soft white sand leaving some reviewers feeling like they were “sitting on a beach somewhere in Mauritius”.
As beautiful in the winter as they are in the summer, seven of the top 10 beaches are located in Scotland included Embo, near Dornoch, Red Point, by Gairloch, and St Cyrus.
Chris Foy, chief executive of VisitAberdeenshire said it was “no surprise” that the north-east would top the list.
He said: “Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire’s 165-mile coastline is among most majestic in the country so it’s no surprise to see that reflected in this top ten, with both Newburgh and St Cyrus featured.
“While these beaches are not a hidden gem to the people of the north-east, we look forward to welcoming visitors to all of our coastal attractions later in the summer.”
In the Outer Hebrides, the three-mile long stretch of sand on Berneray was crowned as one of best beaches in Europe by travel bible Lonely Planet.
Named the “divine” West Beach on Berneray, it claimed third place in a list of Europe’s top 20 beaches, beating off competition from Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Croatia, Montenegro, Sicily, and Corsica.
Hikes, parks and forests
Farigaig Forest, near the banks of Loch Ness, was also ranked highly in the survey’s top forests, alongside Kilmagad Wood in Perthshire.
No better time to visit beaches
A VisitScotland spokesman said: “With mile upon mile of beautiful coastline and many remote beaches to rival the Caribbean, it comes as no surprise that seven out of the top 10 hidden beaches included in this study are from Scotland and the majority in the north of the country.
“It’s great to see Clarks shine a light on some of these ‘secret’ gems and provide inspiration for future travel.
“Scotland’s coastline is an incredibly important part of the visitor experience.
“Our last visitor survey found that more than a third (38%) of people who took part had visited a beach, making it one of the top activities to do whilst on a trip to Scotland.
“As the country celebrates the Year of Coasts and Waters, there is no better time to explore some of our precious sands, when it is safe to do so.”