Ten Things to DO in Dornoch: Beaches

The Northern Highlands has a huge array of beaches waiting to be explored: from the craggy and stony to miles of golden sands or small coves with white sand and turquoise seas- there are so many to choose from and they are all equally special in their own way. Of course our favourite beach is our very own award winning Dornoch beach with a very close second place being our neighbour Embo…… but as there are so many other glorious beaches to visit whilst you are visiting Dornoch, we thought we would make a top ten list of our favourites! This is by no means an exhaustive list but is a good place to start if you are looking for plenty of time on the beach during your holiday.


Dornoch’s safe, Blue Flag beach, is ideal for families with its gentle shallows, sheltering dunes and miles of golden sands. Perfect for paddling and swimming on warm summer days. Throughout the year it is popular for walkers taking a gentle stroll or carrying on north to Embo. The beach is popular with dog walkers all year round. A crisp winter’s morning  on Dornoch beach is unforgettable and at any time of year it will be possible to collect shells, spot sea birds and possibly see seals and even occasionally dolphins playing in the firth. There is car parking at the beach close to a children’s playground and toilets.


Embo beach is number one for rock-pooling in the whole area and has the added bonus of having Embo’s its very own holiday park, “Grannie’s Heilan’ Hame” sited right next to it. After you have had a morning on the beach you can make use of the facilities there which are open to the public including a swimming pool, tennis courts, crazy golf and much more. There is also a bar, restaurant, live entertainment, a convenience store and takeaway.


Golspie beach runs along the coast behind the main shops and cafes of the village of Golspie. Why not take the coastal path from Golspie through to Brora which winds through small harbours, sandy beaches, passes the iron age broch at Strathsteven and the magnificent Dunrobin Castle. The walk is 6¾ miles along easy coastal path and beach. Make the use of the train for the return leg of the journey! (Not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs.) Did you know you can find fossils in Golspie! On the beach below Dunrobin Castle, hunt for Jurassic fossils on this stunning bit of coastline.

Old Shore More

The second most northerly beach on the west coast of Scotland, this stunning beach is very quiet and well off the beaten track. It is well known for its special wildflowers and has some fantastic rocks to explore or jump off of! The small car park and campsite is signposted from the minor road beyond Kinlochbervie.


A stunning beach of white sand which is part of a collection of beaches nestled amongst the rocky bays and headlands. Look out for the small “Hermit’s Castle” built of concrete on a headland in 1950- an architectural oddity that is now abandoned. Achmelvich is well known for looking more like the carribean that Scotland with brilliant white sand and turquoise seas. A safe place to take a swim in the sea and it is easy to spend a whole day here. Luckily it is only a few miles from Lochinver so you can easily pop by for dinner afterwards!


Just a few miles north of Achmelvich lies a beautiful, unspoilt beach called Clachtoll. It is a great place to combine with a trip to Achmelvich as you can conceivably see them both in a day before returning to Dornoch.


A stony little beach to the north of Ullapool, this is a fantastic little beach with wonderful views across to the Summer Isles. Great for making towers out of the pebbles or catching crabs off of the pier.


Long stretches of white sand, miles of sand dunes and stunning cliffs… there are actually multiple beaches in Durness so make sure you manage to explore them all!


Just to the west of the village of tongue is the hamlet of Melness. The beaches are clean and child friendly with rocks to climb on and plenty of golden sand to play on. The views out to sea are spectacular. Well worth a visit.


Slightly closer to home is the quaint little village of Portmahomack just outside of Tain. With it’s museum, lighthouse and harbour it is a bustling community and has a lovely cosy feeling about it on warm summer afternoons. The beach by the harbour runs along the main street so it is easy to grab an ice cream or a picnic and hop straight down to enjoy it on the sand. You look straight over the firth from here to Dornoch, so this beach really does have one of the best views around! There is a second beach at Tarbat Ness up by the lighthouse. This is stonier but equally as charming and is know locally as a great spot for dolphin sightings.