Luskentyre Beach

By Craig Neil
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Summary

Luskentyre is located on the west coast of South Harris in the Outer Hebrides.

This pristine golden sand beach is frequently voted among the top beaches in the UK thanks to its spectacular mountain backdrop and crystal-clear turquoise waters.

Discover what it’s like to visit Luskentyre Beach in this guide which includes an overview, visiting tips, and an immersive 360° virtual tour.

Address:Isle of Harris,
HS3 3HL
Opening Hours:24/7
Admission Price:Free
Parking:Free. Dedicated car park and off-road parking spaces
Contact:N/A
Facilities:Toilets in car park

The highlights

1: This is one of – if not the – most beautiful beaches in the UK.

The views across the Sound of Harris to nearby Taransay are nothing short of stunning, and with the sun shining on the white sand the sea turns an incredible turquoise colour, making it easy to imagine you’re in some far-away exotic paradise.

2: Due to the size of Luskentyre Beach it’s easy to hide away somewhere along it and have a good amount of space all to yourself.

The area near the car park is often busy but if you head south around the bay you’ll find visitor numbers tail off considerably.

3: The sea between Luskentyre and Taransay is fairly shallow and sheltered so it makes a good location to take a kayak onto the water.

If you’ve not kayaked in the sea before I recommend visiting britishcanoeing.org.uk for tips and advice.

Luskentyre beach

Visiting tips

1: The car park is a decent size and there are even toilets in there, but be aware the number of motorhomes that visit mean the spaces get filled up quickly.

If you want to secure a space in the main car park I suggest getting there before 9 am in the summer months, but failing that there are a couple of parking areas along the Losgaintir road.

2: If you’re feeling peckish you have two options. The first is to take a picnic, and the second is to drive 11 miles to Tarbert which has a couple of small shops on Main Street as well as a decent cafe in the Harris Distillery.

3: It’s not uncommon for every single parking space to fill up during the day at Luskentyre so unless you’re on foot or cycling you might consider doing an about-turn and heading 10 miles down the road to Sgarasta Mhor Beach instead.

This is another enormous stretch of golden sand that usually sees far fewer visitors. Parking spaces can be found in a few places along the A859 but they are generally not suitable for motorhomes.


Overview

Luskentyre Beach is one of those places that stick in your mind long after you’ve departed.

This vast beach tucked away in a corner of South Harris is nothing short of spectacular, with a giant stretch of golden sand that seemingly runs all the way to the horizon, framed by a dramatic mountain range.

If you were suddenly plonked there without knowing it’s in Scotland you would easily be forgiven for thinking the beach is part of some exotic island chain in the South Pacific – at least until you dipped a toe in the water.

Over the years, Luskentyre has been named one of the top beaches in the world by various media outlets, including the Tripadvisor website which places it alongside beaches in Puerto Rica, Brazil, and Cuba.

Luskentyre beach

Admittedly we don’t have the same balmy temperatures here in Scotland, but we do have far fewer tourists, meaning a visit to Luskentyre Beach can be enjoyed in relative peace and quiet depending on the month of travel.

The beach itself follows the edge of a promontory that juts out of South Harris into the Sound of Harris, with the Isle of Taransay sitting low on the skyline a mile out to sea and the rocky coastline of North Harris directly to the… north.

The shallowness of the Luskentyre estuary means that depending on when you visit the sea will either be in or out so the amount of sand on view will vary wildly.

On my first visit the tide was completely out and I’ll never forget being confronted with the view from the A859.

The mouth of the estuary is well over a mile wide and the sand stretches inland for at least 2 miles, bordered by machair-covered sand dunes to one side and heather-covered hills to the other.

Luskentyre beach

On a bright summer day the water takes on an incredibly vibrant turquoise colour and the hills of Taransay and North Harris provide a stunning backdrop to the lapping waves that gently roll onto the sandbars.

If there’s a more scenic spot in Scotland, I’ve yet to find it.

There are a couple of other beaches immediately to the south of Luskentyre so there are plenty of options for finding an alternative if the tourists are out in force, though they’re much smaller and more difficult to find parking spaces for.

Seilebost Beach is perhaps the easiest to find as it joins Luskentyre to the south, but Borve Beach is also worth a mention, as is Sgarasta Mhor which almost rivals Luskentyre in size.

Luskentyre beach

Tourist information

Getting to Luskentyre Beach is easy as it simply involves following a single-track road signposted ‘Losgaintir’ from the A859.

It’s around 3 miles from the junction to the beach car park, but you might consider stopping at one of the off-road parking spaces instead as the car park quickly becomes clogged up with motorhomes in peak season.

The car park has a small toilet block but there are no other facilities so bear that in mind if you have hungry children in tow. This is one beach adventure where taking a picnic is an absolute necessity.

From the car park it’s a short walk to Traigh Rosamol Beach which forms part of Luskentyre on its northern-most edge.

From there you’ll be presented with arguably the best views in the Outer Hebrides and to be honest, even if you don’t venture any further I guarantee you’ll fall in love with the place.

Luskentyre beach

The beach is wide and impeccably clean so you will have no fear about walking barefoot, and the sea is shallow for a good distance out so you shouldn’t have any problems taking a dip – if you can brave the temperature.

The Hebrides are well known for having chilly seas at all times of the year and even in the height of summer it’s not exactly pleasant, though I did see a couple of hardy souls making their way to Taransay during my last visit.

Taransay is the small island immediately in front of Luskentyre which is most famous for being the location of the hit 2000 TV show Castaway.

Luskentyre beach

The closest spit of land on the island is only one mile from Traigh Rosamol so it should be possible for strong swimmers or most people with a kayak to get there.

If crossing the water doesn’t float your boat (pardon the pun) you can walk the length of Luskentyre Beach (around 1 mile in total) or around the entire estuary when the tide’s out (around 5 miles).

Alternatively, if photography’s more your thing you might consider including a visit to some of Luskentyre’s viewpoints.

There’s a good one just past Seilebost School on the A859, and another on the hill overlooking Traigh Rosamol which is steep at around 1,500 feet but offers unparalleled views in every direction.

Finally, if you would like to know more about the Outer Hebrides I recommend this website (obviously) and visitouterhebrides.co.uk which is the island chain’s official website.

Luskentyre beach

Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:

South Harris – 455 Explorer.

Sound of Harris – 18 Landranger.

OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4cm = 1km in real world). Buy OS Explorer maps direct from Ordnance Survey.

OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.


Things to do nearby

Seilebost Beach. Address: Seilebost, Isle of Harris, HS3 3HP. Distance: 5.5 miles. Seilebost joins Luskentyre beach at its southern end and is separated only by the shifting sands that form natural inlets between the two expanses of sand.

Seilebost is less-visited than Luskentyre primarily because there are no parking spaces, meaning visitors on foot will find it devoid of people throughout the year.

MacLeod´s Stone. Address: Isle of Harris, HS3 3AE. Distance: 6.7 miles. A large Neolithic standing stone located on a promontory overlooking the Isle of Taransay and Luskentyre Beach. The elevated position offers superb views across the Sound of Harris.

Sgarasta Mhòr Beach. Address: Isle of Harris, HS3 3HX. Distance: 11 miles. A long and wide beach on Harris that tends to see fewer visitors than Luskentyre. The beach is easily accessed from the A859.

Isle of Harris Distillery. Address: Tarbert, Isle of Harris, HS3 3DJ. Distance: 11 miles. A lochside distillery in Tarbert that features guided tours, a cafe, and a shop. Visitors can discover the history of Harris gin and see how it’s made before purchasing a bottle.

Harris Tweed Isle Of Harris Shop. Address: Caberfeidh, Tarbert, Isle of Harris, HS3 3DJ. Distance: 11 miles. The main store on the Isle of Harris for purchasing lengths of genuine Harris Tweed material as well as pre-manufactured gifts and clothing.


Frequently asked questions

Can you take a motorhome to Luskentyre Beach?

There is a car park at Luskentyre Beach which is accessed from the minor Losgaintir road from the A859.
This car park gets very busy, so while it is possible to park a motorhome there, visitors will need to arrive early in the day in order to guarantee a space.

How do you get to Luskentyre Beach?

Luskentyre Beach is located on the west coast of South Harris. It can be accessed via the A859 and taking the minor road signposted to Losgaintir. There is a car park 3 miles from the Losgaintir junction.

Can you wild camp at Luskentyre Beach?

It is legally allowed to wild camp at Luskentyre Beach and anywhere else in Scotland as long as it is not on private property.
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code has a simple set of rules to abide by which include:
1. Taking away all your litter.
2. Removing all traces of your tent pitch and any open fire.
3. Not causing any pollution.

Can you swim to Taransay?

It’s possible to swim to Taransay from Luskentyre Beach but it’s not advisable. The average water temperature is only 12°C meaning muscles can quickly chill. However, distance-wise the closest points between Luskentyre and Taransay are only 1 mile apart.

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