Tiree, an island in the Inner Hebrides, enjoys the highest number of sunshine hours in the UK, and the beaches are among the cleanest and most secluded in Britain. The island’s coastline is 36 miles in total so there are lots of places to enjoy watersports, and there are also superb festivals to attend on some of the beaches, including the annual Tiree Music Festival and the Tiree Wave Classic windsurfing event.

Tiree Caolas Beach Gate


Craig Neil on a Beach at Tiree

The Isle of Tiree, located in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, is renowned for its pristine coastline. With over 20 stunning beaches including Balevullin, Balemartine, and Gott Bay, the island offers pure white sands, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and a tranquil atmosphere, making it a perfect getaway for nature and beach lovers.

The Inner Hebridean island of Tiree is popular with tourists for a number of reasons, thanks to its superb watersports activities, its abundance of wildlife, its beautiful golden beaches, and its unusually mild weather. Somewhat surprisingly (for Scotland), this wee island is bathed in an average of 1,450 to 1,500 hours of sunshine annually thanks to a mild microclimate that’s only rivalled by the Isle of Arran.

That’s one of the highest numbers of sunshine hours in Scotland and it’s probably the last thing you’d expect to hear about one of the west coast islands, but if you visit it for yourself you’ll soon discover there’s more to this pretty island than glorious weather.

Tiree is very much a summer island, as the weather in winter can be atrocious with frequent dreary grey days, but when the sun starts to blaze from May to August it has to be one of the top places in Scotland to take a beach holiday.

Horse Riding Tiree Beach

The beaches on Tiree are some of the best in Scotland, if not the entire UK, with crystal-clear seas surrounding the island’s 36 miles of shallow bays. It’s completely idyllic, and thanks to the Gulf Stream that warms the waters around the island, it has to be the best place in Scotland to go for a swim.

The island is a nature lover’s paradise as there are a huge number of animal species living there, so if you decide to take a dip, don’t be surprised to see curious white-beaked dolphins and minke whales enjoying the water just as much as you are.

It’s a quiet island too, thanks to a population of just 650 residents, but this number increases significantly in the summer when tourists arrive in their droves. But even so, as accommodation is in short supply it never feels too busy or over-commercialized, and it’s usually possible to find an quiet beach somewhere.

To me, it seems that Tiree has a more relaxed atmosphere compared to most other west coast islands, which is mainly due to the fact that it’s much smaller than Skye or Mull and the landscape is much flatter. But what you lose in dramatic mountain peaks you more than make up for in beautiful sheltered beaches, and I reckon it’s the perfect place for a quiet summer holiday.

Scarinish Tiree

The Highlights

1: The beaches on Tiree are beautifully clean (apart from the odd patch of seaweed), and the sea surrounding the island is crystal clear.

2: Most of the beaches on Tiree have shallow bays that allow safe paddling. On Gott Bay, for example, you can paddle out a long way and the sea will be no more than waist deep.

3: If you visit during the TMF (Tiree Music Festival), you’ll get to experience great music next to the coastline. It’s a wonderful experience if you go camping on the beach with friends.

Visiting Tips

1: Tiree’s strong winds change direction often, so be prepared to move to a beach on the opposite side of the island at a moment’s notice. The B8065 circles the eastern half of Tiree, making it easy to drive across either side.

2: If you intend to camp on Tiree’s beaches, check out this guide to make sure you pick a suitable tent: The 5 Best Tents for Summer Camping in Scotland.

3: Some beaches are quite remote, so load an offline map onto your phone’s Google Maps app. Alternatively, get yourself an OS map, which are by far the most detailed maps available. My top tip is to get an Ordnance Survey subscription, which gives access to every single map of Britain via their excellent app for around £25 per year.

Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.

Tiree Beach

Tourist Information

The number of restaurants and shops on this island won’t exactly blow you away, but, to be honest, I think that’s part of its appeal. If you’re going to visit Tiree, you really have to be prepared to take a step back in time and forget the usual tourist conveniences you might be used to. While there are plenty of beautiful beaches to explore during the day, you’re not going to find rows of bars in the evening, and there’s no cinema or fine-dining restaurants either.

What you have instead are activities that can be best summed up by the phrase ‘the best things in life are free’. Long, balmy evenings where you can sit outside in the sunshine till 10 pm, night skies filled with twinkling stars (there’s hardly any light pollution on Tiree), and mile after mile of uninterrupted countryside.

It’s the coastline that sticks in most people’s minds when they think of Tiree, not only because the beaches are so spectacular when the sun blazes but also because the sea breezes keep the feared midges away for most of the day.

These conditions are perfect for getting out on a beach with friends and family to enjoy BBQs, run around with the kids, and dip toes into giant rockpools. Don’t worry if you’re looking for something a bit more exciting than lazing on a beach, though, because Tiree has you covered when it comes to water sports.

Tiree Beach Surfing

The island is reputedly one of the windiest places in Scotland due to the prevailing south-westerly winds that blow in from the Atlantic, and at certain times of the year, fierce waves batter the beaches.

It’s thanks to these conditions that the world’s longest-running windsurfing event takes place each year in October, when the Tiree Wave Classic attracts talent from across the globe to compete in a week-long competition that celebrates surf culture. It’s a fantastic event, and one that I totally recommend if you get the chance to attend.

Tiree has quite a few beaches (15 in total) for such a small island, and some of them are quite remote and hard to find, which is actually a good thing because it limits the number of fellow tourists you’ll have to share them with. There are tiny little coves like the one you’ll find at Scaranish and vast stretches of sand at beaches like Gott Bay, but every beach is clean and offers a great experience. I’ve listed a few of my personal favourites below.

The Best Beaches on Tiree


Isle of Tiree Beach

Balephuil Bay is located on the southwest coast of Tiree and has gained a reputation for having one of the best beaches on the island.

It’s surprisingly big at around one mile in length, and because it’s so shallow it gets some impressive waves when the winds blow in from the Atlantic. In fact, the waves are so consistent that it has been chosen as the main site to host the world championship windsurfing event, the Tiree Wave Classic.


Isle of Tiree Beach

The beach at Balevullin is probably the most popular on the island for surfing thanks to the warm waters brought in by the Gulf Stream, but it’s also a favourite site for nature lovers to spot the wealth of wildlife that lives around this part of the island’s north-west coastline.

If you visit Balevullin take your binoculars and keep a lookout for seals, otters and basking sharks while walking along this picturesque white-shell beach.


Isle of Tiree Beach

You’ll find Caolas beach on the northeast corner of the island bordering the Gunna Sound – the narrow stretch of sea situated between Tiree and the nearby island of Gunna.

This is often one of the least-visited beaches on Tiree which makes it a great place to sit with a good book, and the small rock outcrops at either end are perfect for keeping the kids occupied in the rock pools left behind by the retreating tide.


Isle of Tiree Beach

Crossapol Beach is located on the middle-south end of the island, where it offers nearly a mile of pristine white sand. It’s one of the largest beaches on Tiree and is easy to find so it’s often the busiest, although ‘busy’ on Tiree needs to be thought of in the context that compared to most UK beaches, it’s actually very quiet.

If you fancy taking a dip in the sea, then Crossapol is one of the best places to go on the island as the water there is shallow and the bay is wide, making it a perfect place to let the kids run around and have a splash.

Gott Bay

Isle of Tiree Beach

You’ll find Gott Bay on the northeast coast of Tiree, between the small villages of Scarinish and Brock. This wide expanse of beach is the largest on the island, and it’s a popular location for sand yachts that can often be found zooming up and down as they take advantage of the strong winds that blow in from the east.

Note that the wires that connect the buggies to the sails can be dangerous when moving at speed, so if you see them, please keep your distance.

Gott Bay is the first beach you’ll see when you come onto the island as the Caledonia MacBrayne ferry terminal is located on its southern end near the village of Scarinish.


Isle of Tiree Beach

Sandaig is a small beach on the west coast of Tiree that’s a little rockier than the other beaches but is no less attractive for it.

You’ll find sweeping plains of machair (a mix of wildflowers and grasses) behind the beach and Ceann a’ Mhar, one of the few raised headlands on Tiree, a short distance away to the south-west. This is another part of the island that’s very quiet due to the fact that it’s not very well signposted, so if you’re looking to relax, it’s a great place to go.


Isle of Tiree Beach

Scarinish is the main village on Tiree, and while the beach is small, the harbour leading to it is very picturesque. The harbour is also very quiet apart from a couple of fishing boats and it’s an ideal spot for kayaking with younger children. There’s a pub facing the harbour so you can stop for a pint if the mood takes you, and the Co-Op slightly inland is well-stocked if you fancy having a BBQ on the beach.

Scarinish Beach and Harbour is one of the more rugged areas of coastline on Tiree, but it’s a perfect place to visit if you have accommodation in the village and fancy an evening drink.


Isle of Tiree Beach

The beach at Vaul features a wide sweep of white sand that’s very flat so it’s usually covered with washed-up seaweed, but it’s very peaceful.

The small bay at Vaul is quite secluded thanks to the promontories of land at either end, and it’s an easy walk to get to another great beach at Salum, located in the next bay heading north. While you’re there, I recommend taking a walk to the ‘ringing stone’ located between Vaul and Balephetrish, which emits a metallic ring when struck and was supposedly thrown there by a giant from the Isle of Mull!

Scarinish Tiree

Things to Do

Kitesurfing at Balephuil Beach: Known for its consistent winds, Balephuil Beach is an ideal place for kitesurfing. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a beginner, Tiree’s kitesurfing schools offer lessons to suit all levels.

Bird Watching at Gott Bay: Tiree is home to a rich variety of bird species, making it a paradise for bird watchers. Gott Bay is a great spot to watch a mix of waders, seabirds and even the occasional sea eagle. Don’t forget your binoculars (link to binocular reviews) to get a closer look at these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

Tiree Sea Tours: Discover Tiree’s rugged coastline and wildlife from the sea. On these boat tours, visitors have the opportunity to spot seals, dolphins, and a variety of seabirds before heading out to the Treshnish Isles and the wonderful Isle of Lunga.

Wild Camping at Balevullin Beach: Experience the beauty of Tiree’s night sky by camping at Balevullin Beach. This remote stretch of sand is perfect for wild camping and as there’s so little light pollution there’s a good chance you’ll be able to see the Northern Lights.

Workout at Crossapol: Start your day with an invigorating run on the sandy beach of Crossapol. The peaceful setting and the sound of the waves provide the perfect backdrop to exercise while enjoying Tiree’s natural beauty.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size is Tiree?

Tiree is 30.24 square miles / 78.34 square km / 7,834 hectares in total area.
Tiree is served by Calmac ferries and Logainair flights.
Directions map: Google Maps

Is Tiree the sunniest place in the UK?

Tiree enjoys an average of 1,534 hours of sunshine annually, making it one of the sunniest places in Scotland.
The seaside resort of Shanklin on the Isle of Wight is officially the sunniest place in Britain with an average of 1,923 hours of sunshine annually.

Do you get midges on Tiree?

Midges are prevalent on the west coast of Scotland. However, Tiree is known as the windy isle and midges are virtually non-existent in summer.
Midges cannot take off when the wind speed is above 7 mph, and the average wind speed on Tiree is 13 mph from March to October.

Is Tiree worth visiting?

Tiree is one of the most popular west coast islands in Scotland thanks to its clear seas and wide, golden beaches that are easy to access.
Tiree is a haven for windsurfing thanks to its shallow bays and high winds, and it is home to two much-anticipated annual events – the Tiree Music Festival and the Tiree Surf Classic

Craig Neil

Craig Neil is the author, photographer, admin, and pretty much everything else behind Out About Scotland. He lives near Edinburgh and spends his free time exploring Scotland and writing about his experiences. Follow him on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.