Shetland’s finest beaches
One of the first impressions a visitor to Shetland will have is of the striking coastal scenery! As we’ve been enjoying stunning warm weather this summer, we thought we’d display a list of the fifteen best – most beautiful, peaceful, atmospheric, and fun – beaches to visit in Shetland!
“Partly pebble and partly sandy, this beach is colourful with wildflowers and often has boats drawn up on the sand. Norwick is one of the most photographed and painted beaches on this list!”
Meal beach is a lovely southward facing beach with deep sand and a perfect slope into the water for paddling. It’s a popular beach which can be found on West Burra, one of the islands (linked to the mainland by a bridge) south of Scalloway.
St Ninian’s Ayre
Perhaps the most famous on this list; this beach is a sand tombolo, which links the mainland to St Ninian’s Isle. The sea laps in at both sides of this beach. St Ninian’s Isle is found in the south of Shetland near Bigton.
The Lang Ayre
The Lang Ayre can only be reached by ascending to and walking past Shetland’s highest hill, Ronas Hill, in the far north. The adventurous walker needs to walk west, descending carefully by following the Burn of Monius and using an improvised rope. The Lang Ayre is, at 1,500m long, one of the largest beaches on this list, and this stunning pink granite shingle beach is backed by massive 240m high cliffs.
Located in the south west of Shetland, Spiggie beach is a popular picnic spot. It has crystal-clear seawater and the shore line was once covered with fishing yoals. In the early 20th century, a steamer travelled from Leith to Shetland, and visitors would disembark at Spiggie beach.
Sands of Breckon
Located in North Yell, the Sands of Breckon is a lovely sheltered beach facing the Atlantic. It’s a peaceful and beautiful place to visit.
It seems like a bit of a cheat to mention a beach that is difficult to physically be on in this list. However, Rerwick, in Shetland’s south mainland makes the cut because it is easy to look down upon from the road above (which leads from Bigton to Scousburgh), and it’s a superb place to see undisturbed seals and their pups.
West Voe of Sumburgh
The West Voe of Sumburgh is a beautiful white curve of sand at the very south end of Shetland. There are great views of Sumburgh Head from here, and of nearby Jarlshof. We like this beach because Dunrossness was a popular area with early settlers in Shetland, and we can imagine how amazing this new land must have seemed to travellers arriving here.
This sheltered sandy beach in the far north of the island of Unst is Britain’s most northerly beach! It’s a lovely one too, with fine soft sand! Find out more about Unst here.
It takes some real dedication to get there – but in the far north of Shetland there’s a ten-mile circular walk (starting at Sandvoe) to rocky islands with large caves and a beautiful sandy tombolo which can be crossed at low tide. Uyea looks almost tropical, and the photographs you take here will go down a storm on social media.
Located in the south mainland, 17 miles from Lerwick, Levenwick beach is a peaceful sandy bay with great rockpools for children to play in!
The Hams of Muckle Roe
The Hams of Muckle Roe are a series of stunning red sandy beaches and striking seastacks, caves and jagged rocks. To reach Muckle Roe, you can take a bridge onto the island from Busta on the Shetland Mainland. The Hams are on the west side of the island but there are not any roads here, so visitors will need to undertake a long but rewarding walk or cycle ride.
Norwick is an attractive little bay in the far north of the island of Unst. Partly pebble and partly sandy, this beach is colourful with wildflowers and often has boats drawn up on the sand. It is one of the most photographed and painted beaches on this list! It is also geologically important, as a section of the Earth’s crust was pushed upwards and is visible here.
Fethaland is located at the north tip of Shetland’s mainland and was once one of the busiest of the Shetland haaf fishing stations. The catch was once dried on this lovely pebble beach. The surrounding coastal scenery at Fethaland is quite amazing too! You can find out more about Fethaland and Haaf fishing here.
Banna Minn is a quite simply stunning area on West Burra. Head for Papil and then follow the signposts to Banna Minn. There’s a car park there and a short walk downhill to Minn beach. The curved beach, and an impossibly thin sliver of land behind it are all that join the two southern parts of the island together! Banna Minn is particularly popular with photographers!
Close to Spiggie beach in the south west of Shetland, this lovely beach is a wide stretch of gleaming white sand with a turquoise-coloured sea. Behind the dunes lies the Loch of Spiggie, which is a great fishing loch!
Honourable mentions go to Sand Voe on North Roe, Maywick beach, Tresta beach, Westing beach (pictured above), Dale of Walls, Cumlewick beach and Grutness beach. Contact us if you have any other reccommendations!
Orkney and Shetland enthusiast, family man, loves walks, likes animals, terrible at sports, dire taste in music, great taste in films and tv, eats a little too much for his own good.