Revealed: The 60 best beaches in Scotland for swimming

Scotland's top beaches have been unveiled as the official bathing season kicks off this week.

Leven East beach in Fife. The Scottish Beach Awards take into account facilities, such as toilets, as well as water quality and absence of litter. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Scotland’s top beaches have been unveiled as the official bathing season kicks off this week.

Flags will be flying at 60 favourite seaside destinations around the country, from the Borders to Shetland, in recognition of the high standards they offer.

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St Andrews West Sands in Fife and Gullane Bents in East Lothian, both of which are celebrating 25 years as award-winners, are among those receiving top billing in this year’s Scottish Beach Awards.

Fife tops the league in the 2017 league table with 15 award-winning beaches in the region. Highland comes a close second with 12, while Aberdeenshire boasts eight and East Lothian seven. Angus has six and Shetland has five.

Among the winners are Scotland’s busiest beach, in Ayr, and Loch Morlich, near Aviemore, the only freshwater beach to receive recognition in the scheme.

Other favourites recognised this year include Lunan Bay in Angus, Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire, Embo and Golspie in Highland, Coldingham Bay in the Scottish Borders and the Isle of Cumbrae’s Newton beach in North Ayrshire.

With domestic visits to seaside locations worth more than £3 million a year to the Scottish economy, the awards serve as a national quality benchmark for provision of facilities to visitors.

The accolades, which come in time for the official start of the Scottish bathing season on Thursday, are bestowed on beaches that are well kept, offer facilities such as toilets and provide a high-quality experience for the public.

The Scottish Beach Awards started in 1993 as the Scottish Seaside Awards and had only two entrants.

The number of beaches accredited under the initiative has grown 30-fold over the past 25 years.

The scheme is run by the environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful.

Derek Robertson, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “The Scottish Beach Awards set the standard for our stunning coastlines and inland shores – making sure that they are litter-free, provide excellent facilities for families and encourage more visitors to our beautiful beaches.

“Going to the beach is a tradition that we want to continue, whilst protecting this valuable environment.

“It is vital that we maintain our support for organisations’ efforts to ensure that Scotland’s coastlines offer a great day out whilst recognising the wider benefits of a good quality environment for people’s health and well-being and local economies.”

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “The Scottish Beach Awards play an important role in keeping our beautiful shorelines to a high standard.

“Trips to the seaside are incredibly popular, with our new Scotland visitor survey revealing that more than a third of our visitors enjoy going to the beach while on holiday.

“We would like to congratulate all the winners of this year’s awards and wish everyone a successful summer season.”

Focusing on local environmental quality, the award is designed to complement the work currently undertaken by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency on bathing water quality.


Aberdeen City

Aberdeen Ballroom Beach


Balmedie Beach, Collieston, Cruden Bay, Fraserburgh Esplanade, Fraserburgh Waters of Philorth, Inverboyndie Beach, Peterhead Lido, Stonehaven Beach


Montrose Seafront, Carnoustie, Arbroath, Lunan Bay, Monifieth, East Haven

Dundee City

Broughty Ferry

East Lothian

Belhaven Bay, Gullane Bents, Longniddry Gosford Bay, North Berwick Milsey Bay, North Berwick West Beach, Longniddry No 1 and 2, Yellowcraig, Dunbar East


Aberdour Silversands, Anstruther Billowness, Burntisland Beach, Crail Roome Bay, Elie Harbour, Elie Ruby Bay, Kingsbarns Beach, Kinghorn and Pettycur Bay, Kirkcaldy Seafield,
Leven East, St Andrews East Sands,St Andrews West Sands, Aberdour Black Sands, Kinghorn Harbour, Kirkcaldy Pathhead Sands


Achmelvich Bay, Brora Beach, Dornoch Beach, Embo, Golspie Beach, Portmahomack, Sango Sands, Shandwick Bay, Strathy Bay, Nairn Central, Loch Morlich, Melvich Beach

North Ayrshire

Newton Beach Millport

Scottish Borders



St Ninian’s Isle, Sands of Breckon, Tresta, West Voe, West Sandwick

South Ayrshire

Ayr South, Troon, Maidens