Framed by cerulean blue waters and virgin white sands, Scotland’s offshore Bahamian paradise draws many a comparison with the archipelagos of the Caribbean, only, the Outer Hebrides are congregated 4,200 miles in the opposite direction. Situated off the dramatic North Western shore of mainland Scotland, the Outer Hebrides (or Western Isles) are an oft forgotten extension of ancient Caledonia, despite being conveniently accessible via the time-served Oban ferry and Loganair Airlines. Of the 200-strong island archipelago, a mere thirteen are inhabited, lending credence to the Hebridian nickname – the “Edge of Europe”. Sparsely populated and almost lunar in parts, a getaway to the Outer Hebrides beaches really is an other worldly experience.
With scattered relics of Gaelic heritage and a delightfully hospitable populace, the Isle of Lewis has become a popular destination for Scottish self-catering holidays and fishing breaks. Neighbouring Harris has long staked its claim to owning the best beaches in Scotland, yet a select few tip the scale for Lewis, including Dal Mor. Encompassed by a vast wall of charcoal cliffs, the white-gold sands of Dal Mor wind along a rocky coastline Western peninsula, less than a fifteen minute walk from nearby Carloway. Buffeted by turbulent Northern winds and equally formidable currents, Dal Mor has become a premier surfing destination for those seeking an all-out board war with Atlantic swells. It’s also a choice hiking route, with challenging dunes, 165-foot height gains and over 3 ½ miles of unspoilt, rugged scenery. From the cliff-top cemetery, it’s even possible to glimpse the great Dal Mor Stacks, rising up out of the waves like the hunchback ogres of Lewis legend!
Best known for its powder-soft Southern beaches, the Hebridian Isle of Harris could easily be mistaken for an offshore Grecian getaway. Bathed in hazy sunshine during the summer months, Harris lures day-trippers and weekenders with the promise of lush, undulating landscapes, quaint fishing bays and whale-watching opportunities beyond its azure shores. Bounded by gorse covered mountains and rocky crags, Luskentyre Beach on the Southwestern coast is an increasingly popular destination for hiking holidays in the Outer Hebrides. A vast swathe of coastline arcing around the Sound of Taransay, Luskentyre is visually stunning whether seen from the approaching A859, or from the cliffs of Traigh Iar, South of the beach.