Beaches on Islay

Islay beaches and the island is surrounded with a wild, rugged, and beautiful coastline.

Islay has many spectacular beaches to enjoy.

My favourite Islay beach, one definitely worth heading to, is Machir Bay.

Here you will be treated to vast and beautiful golden sands,  and a spectacular panorama of the Atlantic Ocean. Peel off those socks and shoes and enjoy sinking your feet into the warm sand and dipping your toes into the soothing crystal clear Atlantic waves.

With coastline all around, choose from the golden sands of Saligo, Ardnave, and the Big Strand.

There are so many beautiful Islay beaches to choose from. Venture with me on a walk around the point at Ardnave Point in our Islay Beaches blog here

For spectacular cliffs head to the Oa, and watch the Atlantic rollers come crashing in.

The remote and rocky coastline of Islay’s north and north east coast is just a short distance from Persabus. Peppered with tiny coves, it is a perfect wilderness to explore and enjoy solitude. The seals often follow me on my walks along the coast, as oyster catchers, swans and otters come out to play.


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Machir Bay

Machir Bay (40 mins by car from Persabus).

This just happens to be one of Islay’s most famous beaches.

Do take your time driving down there as the track leading to the beach is quite rough. There is ample parking at the bottom of the track. Follow the sandy path across the wooden bridge, and through the dunes, and enjoy the mesmerising panorama of one of Islay’s most and spectacular beaches.

Golden sands, with the roar of Atlantic rollers breaking on the shore. Shoes off is a must. If it is warm enough, enjoy a refreshing paddle through the crystal clear waters, as you head to the dramatic rock formations and pools at the end of the bay.

A very enjoyable beach walk, it will take you an hour to walk across the full length of this beautiful Islay beach, or just rest among the dunes and enjoy the moment.

Being located on Islay’s west coast, Machir Bay has to be the most perfect spot in the world to watch as the sun sets.

If yo would like to find out more enjoy venturing on a walk across the bay in our Machir Bay blog here

Please note the sea at Machir Bay is not safe for swimming in due to dangerous under currents.

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Ardnave Point

If you want a good walk, with lots of wildlife to enjoy along the way, I would definitely recommend a trip to Ardnave Point. Enjoy turquoise seas, sandy bays, with views across to the historic Nave Island. For a flavour of what to expect do head over to our blog Islay Walks: Ardnave and enjoy joining us on our walk around Ardnave Point.

Port Ban

(20 min drive from Persabus)

If you enjoy wild swimming, or want to take your children to a beach where they can paddle, Port Ban is a favourite with the locals. Port Ban is in the shores of Lochindaal. A sandy bay, it is a great place to head for a picnic, and enjoy building those sand castles. Head for Port Charlotte and you will see the carpark for the beach on your right, just past the village of Bruichladdich.

Head through the ‘kissing gate’ by the war memorial, and follow the path down. It is a little steep, but only takes a few minutes for you to reach the sea, so ideal if you have lots of beach paraphernalia to cart along too.

Always take care when swimming in open waters.

The Singing Sands

(40 minutes drive from Persabus to Kilnaughton Bay)

Head for Port Ellen and enjoy sandy beaches with opportunities to enjoy some wild swimming adventures. For more information on this fantastic walk and beach, head to our Singing Sands Blog post

Enjoy a short hike over the headland beyond Carraig Fhada Lighthouse and down to Singing Sands Bay. You might even see a wild mountain goat along the way.



If you fancy a walk, the beautiful coastline at Sanaigmore on Islay’s west coast offers golden sands to explore among beautiful rock formations,  with ‘chocolate box’ beaches.

Currie Sands

Beyond Portnahaven, in the far west of Islay is Currie Sands, a popular sandy enclave to while away a sunny day.






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Islay's North East Coastline

Beyond Bunnahabhain

(10 min drive from Persabus)

Drive along the single track road that meanders through the farm at Persabus and head on towards Bunnahabhain. Park on the grass on your left, just beside a gate and track, before the final bend down to the Distillery.

Head along the track and take a right, beside the beautiful house, just past the gate. Head through the deer gate and down the steep track, across the rickety wooden bridge, and up over the headland. Definitely take good walking boots for this trek. Make sure you are well covered as there are lots of sheep ticks in the bracken and heather, and do check for ticks once you have returned to your car.

Enjoy exploring the rocky coastline, with its smooth pebble beaches, and natural arches in among the cliffs. This is the perfect place to enjoy solitude, watch nature come out to play, as otters, seals, sea eagles, golden eagles, and wild swans, habitat this beautiful coastline.

On hot days keep an eye out for adders basking in the sunshine.



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Whether you are looking for sandy bays, dramatic cliffs, or pebble beaches that have been smoothed by the tides, Islay has so many varied and beautiful beaches to explore.

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Explore our delightful Islay accommodation where we have a fabulous choice of country accommodation on this beautiful island.

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Comfortable and well-equipped self-catering cottage with great views of the Paps of Jura. 4 of us (two couples) stayed in the Millhouse Cottage for a week in July 2018. Donald was a great host and the cottage provided an excellent base at the north end of Islay, within walking distance of Port Askaig (with its ferries to Colonsay, Oban, Kintyre and Jura) and stunning views (from the front-door) across the Sound of Islay to the impressive Paps of Jura.

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