Achnahaird Beach: A Guide to Northern Scotland’s Best-Loved Seaside

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Those touring the North Coast 500 of Northern Scotland may have already heard about the crisp white sands of the beautiful Achnahaird Beach near the coastal town of Ullapool.

We recently covered all there is to see and do in Ullapool, but we wanted to focus on the nearby Achnahaird Beach, which frankly deserves a blog of its own. So, here is everything you need to know about visiting the area, including the best accommodation, hiking trails, car rental companies, and more.

Read more: Corrieshalloch Gorge Viewpoint: A Complete Guide (+ The Best Hikes!)

Achnahaird Beach – Northern Scotland’s Best-Loved Beach

Considered one of the best beaches in the country, Achnahaird Beach is tucked away in Enard Bay of the North Sea – and it is well worth a visit.

Known for its pristine white sand, which rivals that of any given Caribbean beach, this little watery hideaway is the epitome of peace – and is super accessible – especially for those embarking on a road trip of the famous North Coast 500.

Achnahaird Beach scotland

How to Get to Achnahaird Bay

Those travelling the area by car can get to the bay easily enough. Just 2 miles north of Ullapool lies a road via Altandhu and Achiltibuie, which will take you to the beach. From Achiltibuie, it is a short walk to the grassy hillocks that back onto the sand.

Surrounding this magical coastal spot are the incredible Stac Pollaidh, Canisp, and Suilven mountains, so once you peep these peaks from the road – the beach is close by.

The nearest airport to Achnahaird Bay is Inverness International Airport.

Things to Do At (or Near) Achnahaird Bay

Picnic on the Beach

There is nothing quite like the peaceful, easy feeling of Achnahaird Beach, with its cream-coloured soft sands and turquoise waters. 

On a warm, sunny day, there is no better place to be than on the beach with a hamper of delicious food and a (plastic) glass of wine. In nearby Ullapool, there is a fabulous family-run deli for those wanting to pick up some yummy bits. 

In the interest of keeping this beautiful spot in its pristine and safe state, please take all rubbish with you and do not bring glass onto the beach.

Hike Stac Pollaidh Mountain

Scotland is a hiker’s paradise, and naturally, The Highlands offer some of the most scenic and jaw-dropping treks, trails, and vistas. 

Hiking Stac Pollaidh can be done in a mere morning or afternoon (taking around 2-3 hours), and novice trekkers needn’t fear – it’s no Mount Everest! It does, however, provide some of the best vantage points for admiring this beautiful coastal area.

Paddle to Clachtoll Beach

This sea loch is ideal for lovers of water sports, such as canoeing, surfing, paddleboarding, and more. 

Clachtoll Beach is just over 8 miles from Achnahaird Beach, so experienced paddlers can easily make the trip from Achnahaird Bay. And much like Achnahaird, the area is brimming with chalky sands and fantastic hiking spots. Also, there is a great campsite nearby, for those wanting to spend the night.

Explore Culag Woods

The Highlands have it all – beautiful beaches, misty mountains, lovely lochs, mystical meadows, and wonderful woodland!

There’s just something about exploring forestry areas that connects us back to nature and awakens our inner child, no?! 

Culag Woods boasts great views of the nearby bay and is a great place for spotting some local wildlife, such as deer, red squirrels, and various sea birds.

Stand in Awe of the Falls of Kirkaig

If you venture 6 miles northeast of Achnahaird Beach you’ll stumble across the magnificent Kirkaig waterfall. 

Located on the River Kirkaig (funnily enough!) in Sutherland, the Falls of Kirkaig is a spectacular sight to behold, with the waterfall itself plunging around 20 metres down into a rocky ravine that cradles a beautiful natural pool.

Did you know that the Ullapool area of The Highlands is something of an artists’ commune?! In fact, Achiltibuie and its neighbouring towns all feature art galleries that proudly display the works of many Highland creatives.

Not only can you view (and purchase) charcoals and watercolours, but there is a host of ceramic goodies just waiting for a new home – all created locally by the town’s resident clever-cloggs’!

Stop By Hermit’s Castle

Any place named ‘Hermit’s Castle’ is worth a visit, right?! We mean, who lives there, a recluse or a crab?! There’s only one way to find out!

In the Achmelvich area lies the UK’s smallest castle – and its origin is quite the mystery. Most agree that the castle is actually a bothy built in 1950 by an English architect who wanted a quiet seaside retreat. 

However, after spending just one weekend at the bothy/castle, he left and never returned – and to this day no one knows why. Either way, you’re free to visit the building and draw your own conclusions about this mysterious little castle.

Achnahaird Beach scotland

North Coast Sea Tours

Although driving the North Coast 500 can cough up more than its fair share of incredible scenery, sometimes the best way to appreciate the beauty of the land is via the sea.

North Coast Sea Tours offer incredible trips from Lochinver that allow you to explore the North Coast 500 from a more aquatic vantage point. As well as witnessing the impressive wildlife and sealife of Scotland, you can enjoy a relaxed trip on a spacious vessel helmed by a super friendly crew.

Each boat is accessible for those with limited mobility, and dogs are welcome. 

Places to Stay Near Achnahaird Beach

Such a fabulous and sought-after location has no shortage of incredible accommodation.

Badnaban Cottage, Ullapool

This fabulous 3-bed self-catering cottage sleeps 6 people, making it ideal for a weekend away with family or pals. Not only does it boast some of the best panoramic views in the area, but it’s within walking distance to the bay – for those who love a summer morning swim!

Popular amenities:

  • Fireplace
  • Fully-equipped kitchen
  • Washer & dryer
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • BBQ grill

Summer Isles Hotel, Achiltibuie

Those wanting to bypass a self-catering affair in favour of a full hotel experience can enjoy the lavish (and award-winning) Summer Isles Hotel. Each cosy and super chic room features sea views, fresh linen and towels, and a private bathroom.

Popular amenities:

  • Free parking
  • Restaurant & bar
  • Beachfront
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Facilities for disabled guests
  • Very good breakfast

The Sleepy Crofter Glamping, Achiltibuie

Glamping is the best way to enjoy the fun of regular camping – but with added comfort. However, instead of fancy tents or yurts, The Sleepy Crofter offers stunning micro cabins complete with an outdoor fireplace – perfect for toasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories!

Popular amenities:

  • Sea views
  • Flatscreen TVs
  • Free parking
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Private bathrooms
  • Kitchenette

The Loan, Achiltibuie

This beachfront holiday home is ideal for those wanting a decent amount of space (the property is approximately 10764 ft² in size) and features 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 3 living rooms, a terrace, a garden, and a fully-equipped kitchen. 

Popular amenities:

  • Pets allowed
  • Free parking
  • Sea view
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Fireplace

Locholly Lodge, Achiltibuie

This fancy holiday home is ideal for those wanting to indulge in a spot of glamour and leisure – all while lapping up every inch of the 1800 ft² property size. It even features a sauna and a hot tub. Also, the front of the lodge boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, enabling some incredible sea views.

Popular amenities:

  • Pets allowed
  • Hot tub
  • Sauna
  • Sea view
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Free parking
  • Electric vehicle charging station

Ledgowan Lodge Hotel, Achnasheen

Did somebody say swanky upscale hotel?! Those rough North Coast 500 winds can have any bohemian longing for a little glamour and comfort – even for just one night – and luckily for them, the Ledgowan Lodge Hotel offers just that.

This hotel holds all the charm and comfort of an English countryside manor but with a side order of Scottish hospitality for those in need of true British elegance.

Popular amenities:

  • Free parking
  • Free airport shuttle
  • Bar & restaurant
  • Laundry
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Room service
  • Coffee shop

Hiking Trails Near Achnahaird Beach

As we mentioned earlier, the Achnahaird Beach area is particularly great for hiking, owing to the abundance of mountains surrounding it. One of the best hiking trails in the area is the Achnahaird Bay Circuit, which spans a distance of 8.5 km and takes roughly 3 hours. 

Another local hiking hotspot is the nearby Achnasheen, which features a whopping 37 trails to choose from.

Renting a Car Near Achnahaird Beach

The best way to get to Achnahaird Beach, and indeed to explore the rest of the North Coast 500, is by car. We recommend hiring a vehicle from one of the following rental companies:


Where is Achnahaird Beach?

Achnahaird Bay can be found on the Coigach peninsula in Wester Ross, Scotland, and is an inlet of Enard Bay near Ullapool. It is considered part of the Scottish Highlands. The white sandy beach of Achnahaird is surrounded by the mountains of Stac Pollaidh, Canisp, and Suilven.

Are dogs welcome at Achnahaird Beach?

Yes, Achnahaird Beach is dog-friendly!

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