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There are far too many beautiful ones dotted around the whole island to mention them all, so here are a selection of our favourites:



West Coast It’s hidden from view behind some WW2 battlements in a field usually full of sheep but it’s worth the effort to find and often the only clue it’s there will be a couple of cars parked on a bend next to a big field gate. Once over the dunes it’s a spectacular long wide sandy beach dotted with rocks and with huge Atlantic waves crashing on to the shore even in the calmest of weathers. It’s therefore not advisable to swim from it but even on the hottest summers day you will always find plenty of space to have a whole section of beach just to yourselves and lots of rock pools to explore and rocks to climb too.


West Coast This is the next beach along from Saligo and is unusual for Islay in that it has a little car park. Again, due to the current and Atlantic waves it’s not the best for swimming but instead you have 2km of Dunes and Beach to explore instead.

Ted on Machir


East Coast To describe this as a shingle beach is misleading, it’s full of stones of every size, shape and colour imaginable, an amazing sight. There are beautiful views across to Kintyre if you tire of building your very own Cairns out of stones. The drive out from Port Ellen heading East going past Kildalton is also worth it as you will pass through ancient knarled forests and lots of little bays along the way. Parking is on the grassy strips behind the beach but avoid the boggy bits!


Nr Port Ellen This is a beautiful sheltered sandy beach surrounded by trees and divided in two by a burn. As you face the sea and the views of Port Ellen beyond, to the left is a ruin of a little chapel right on the beach. There is a little car park opposite the cemeteries or alternatively park on the grassy banks behind the beach. If you’re lucky you will time your visit to when the Highland Cattle are enjoying it too!

Holiday Homes Islay - Port Ellen Beach


On the Oa Worth the trip on single tracked roads to the small parking area just through the courtyard of Kintra Farm. Walk over the dunes and you’ll find a mini Saligo bay in that you have a beautiful sandy beach, lovely rocks and waves crashing too. Frequent visitors to this beach include the Wild Goats living on the Oa.

The Big Strand

Behind the airport is an impressive bank of beautiful sand measuring four and three-quarter miles long. One of it’s best (but beware a pot-holey route!) is down the track at the side of the Airport which opens up at various points into little car parking areas. An amazing beach to walk the legs off your four legged friends!

Holiday Homes Islay - The Strand.jpg

Fancy exploring the beaches by bike?  - Check out our cycle hire page

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