The beach at Cruden Bay
The beach at Cruden Bay

Eight Scottish beaches that are worth a visit

With long stretches of golden sand, grassy dunes and dramatic clifftops, Aberdeenshire’s 165-mile long coast boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.

As well as natural beauty, the region’s seaside offers activities for everyone from families to dog walkers, surfers and photographers.

So as the days get warmer and longer, why not pack a picnic and embrace the sun sea and sand?

Balmedie Beach and Country Park

Just eight miles north of Aberdeen, the beach at Balmedie features a 14 mile-long dune system that stretches from the city to just north of the mouth of the River Ythan at Newburgh. There are plenty of facilities, with toilets, wooden walkways, picnic areas and a swing park with a fishing theme for children. You can also hire barbeque fire stands for a fun day out for the whole family.

Cruden Bay Beach

The golden shores of Cruden Bay Beach stretch approximately two miles from the south of the village of Cruden Bay and its harbour port Erroll. It was from this beach on 30 July 1914 that the Norwegian pilot, Tryggve Gran, made the first ever solo flight across the North Sea landing at Stavanger in Norway. Besides a rich history, Cruden Bay Beach is also backed by Cruden Bay Golf Club and is a popular swimming and surfing spot. Visitors can also admire the haunting ruins of Slains Castle which sits on a clifftop overlooking the sea.

The beach at Cruden Bay

Newburgh Beach

Ideal for spotting marine wildlife and only a 20-minute drive from Aberdeen, Newburgh Beach is a great day out for the whole family. Children will love the chance to witness the colony of around 400 seals along the River Ythan and may even be lucky enough to spot whales or dolphins near the beach. Indulge in a few rounds of golf at the Newburgh-on-Ythan Golf Club behind the beach or enjoy a bite to eat in the village.

Waters of Philorth Local Nature Reserve, Fraserburgh

The stunning Waters of Philorth Local Nature Reserve at the eastern edge of Fraserburgh is a feeding site for a range of migrating birds, especially waders and wildfowl such as oystercatchers, redshanks, and dunlins. The site has been developed as a nature reserve due to its variety of habitats including sloping sand dunes, marshes, reed beds, a river and the beach itself. The Reserve is open all year round and includes footpaths leading to Fraserburgh Bay.

Cullen Beach

Perhaps best known for its legendary rock formation, The Three Kings beach stack, Cullen is an attractive sandy beach located to the west of Cullen village. Legend has it that that The Three Kings rock formations are the gravestones of three Norse kings who died at the Battle of the Bauds. As well as Cullen beach being a great spot for surfing, sailing and fishing, children will enjoy exploring the various rock pools uncovered at low tide. Grassy picnic areas provide a nice spot to grab a bite to eat and enjoy wonderful views of the coastline.

Sunset over Cullen Bay

Donmouth Local Nature Reserve, Aberdeen

Located in historic Old Aberdeen, Donmouth Local Nature Reserve was designated as a local nature reserve back in 1992. Don’t forget your binoculars to spot seals and a range of interesting birds. The reserve is where the Don meets the sea and there are fascinating plants among the dunes and beach areas. Rangers often organise public events and children will love taking part in seashore searches and mini-beast hunts.

St Cyrus Beach

Formerly known as Ecclesgreig Beach, St Cyrus is a wide sandy beach backed by towering red granite cliffs that stretch around the coast for approximately three miles. Located between Aberdeen and Dundee, the beach is part of one of Scotland’s botanical nature reserves and home to over 70 species of bird. It’s also a great place to spot dolphins, whales and seals. The St Cyrus Nature Reserve has an excellent visitor centre in the old lifeboat station where you can find information on the area and what to look out for.

St Combs Beach

Tranquil and remote, the beach at St Combs is located around five miles down the coast from Fraserburgh and backed by hills and dunes stretching south all the way to Peterhead. A walk along the shore is a great way to get some exercise and can offer some truly spectacular views – especially at sunrise and sunset. The area is known as one of the sunniest parts of Scotland making it the ideal place for a day out in the summer. As well as the beauty of the beach itself, visitors will be able to appreciate the nearby Strathberg Nature Reserve and Britain’s largest dune loch.