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Beaches in Orkney

Beaches in Orkney

We are blessed in Orkney to be home to some of the most breathtaking beaches you'll ever encounter.

With stunning landscapes, rich history, and diverse wildlife, Orkney's beaches are perfect for both relaxation and adventure.

So, whether you're seeking secluded coves or expansive sandy shores, the beaches in Orkney have something for everyone. And having grown up here, I've had the pleasure of spending a lazy sunday strolling amongst these gorgeous beaches.

In this guide,I'll explore the best beaches in Orkney that you must visit - and we asksed some of our Facebook friends for their best pics of the beaches too.

1. Scapa Beach

Located just a short drive from Kirkwall, Scapa Beach is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

This sandy beach is perfect for a leisurely stroll, and its calm waters are ideal for swimming. 

There's also a museum / memorial to the sinking of the Royal Oak, for the history buffs.

The surrounding scenery is stunning, making it a perfect place for photography and picnics (weather dependent of course). It's also a good place to find some sea glass.

Scapa Beach by Kirsty Lloyd

2. Waulkmill Bay

Waulkmill Bay is one of the largest beaches in Orkney, located on the south coast of the West Mainland.

The beach is known for its vast expanse of sand, which is perfect for walking and exploring.

At low tide, the bay reveals fascinating tidal pools teeming with marine life. It's a peaceful spot where you can enjoy birdwatching or simply relax amidst nature.

3. Rackwick Bay

Located on the island of Hoy, Rackwick Bay offers dramatic scenery with its towering cliffs and rugged shoreline. The beach is a mixture of sand and pebbles, surrounded by stunning hills that provide breathtaking views.

It's a fantastic place for hiking, and the nearby Old Man of Hoy, a famous sea stack, adds to the allure of this beautiful location.

This bay is so lovely, it's even part of my collection.

Rackwick Bay in Hoy

4. The Bay of Skaill

The Bay of Skaill  is famous not only for its beautiful beach but also for being the site of the Skara Brae Neolithic village.

This sandy bay is perfect for families, with plenty of space for children to play.

The clear waters are inviting for a swim, and the nearby historic sites make it a great destination for combining beach time with a touch of history.

Conveniently, there's also a set of toilets near the beach. 

5. Brough of Birsay

Brough of Birsay is a tidal island located off the northwest coast of Mainland Orkney. Accessible by a causeway during low tide, the beach here offers a unique experience with its rich history and stunning views.

But beware, because it's tidal - don't get stuck!

Explore the remnants of a Norse settlement and enjoy the diverse wildlife, including puffins and seals. The tidal pools are also fascinating, making it a perfect spot for exploration.

Brough of Birsay by Kirsty Lloyd

6. Sands of Wright

Sands of Wright, located on the island of South Ronaldsay, offers a wide stretch of sandy beach with clear, turquoise waters.

It's perfect for beachcombing, swimming, and enjoying the stunning coastal views.

Oh, and there's toilets near the parking!

The surrounding cliffs and dunes add to the scenic beauty, making it a fantastic spot for nature lovers and photographers alike.

It's also near Hoxa Head, which is a great spot for a walk that encompasses lovely coastal views and historical wartime artifacts. And when you are all tired out, you can grab a meal and a drink from Robertsons in St Margaret's Hope, at least that's what I'd do!

Sands o' Wright by Jade Miller

7. 3rd Barrier Beach

3rd Barrier Beach is located along one of the iconic Churchill Barriers, constructed during World War II.

This unique beach offers a mix of sandy shores and fascinating wartime history.

The views are stunning, and it's an excellent spot for a peaceful walk or a bit of beachcombing. Many locals and visitors like to use this spot for scuba diving and snorkelling - how nature has taken over the barriers is fascinating.

The clear waters are also inviting for a refreshing swim.

Third Barrier Beach by Fiona Smith

8. Backaskaill Beach, Sanday

Located on the island of Sanday, Backaskaill Beach boasts long stretches of white sand and crystal-clear waters. It's a perfect spot for a peaceful day of beachcombing, walking, and wildlife watching.

The beach is often quiet, offering tranquility and stunning scenery, ideal for relaxation.

9. Warbeth Beach, Stromness

Warbeth Beach, near Stromness, offers a rocky shoreline with beautiful views across Hoy Sound. It's a great spot for walking, exploring rock pools, and enjoying dramatic sunsets.

The beach looks out onto the hills of hoy, providing a picturesque backdrop for a peaceful day by the sea.

This is a great little place for a family walk, before grabbing a bite to eat in Stromness. 

10. Dingieshowe Beach, Deerness

Dingieshowe Beach in Deerness is known for its beautiful sandy shores and a unique tombolo linking the mainland to Deerness.

This beach is perfect for families, with plenty of space for children to play. It's also a fantastic spot for birdwatching and exploring the surrounding dunes.

It's certainly a place for that inspired my tidelines collection.

11. Ness Beach, Shapinsay

If you're on the lookout for Groatie Buckies, then Ness Beach in Shapinsay might be just the spot. I visited there a few weeks ago and it's a lovely beach. Imagine white sands and clear seas. And with very few people to boot. Fantastic for an afternoon stroll.

Inganess Beach

Just a short walk from Kirkwall, Inganess beach is a delightful little bay, with the wreck of the Juniata in view.

There's parking ad a little picnic area, making it great for a stroll with the dogs. The view is quite dramatic as you come down towards the beach with the full view of the bay.

Inganess Beach by Fiona Smith


The beaches in Orkney offer a diverse range of experiences, from secluded coves and tidal islands to expansive sandy shores and dramatic cliffs.

Whether you're looking for adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, the beaches in Orkney provide the perfect backdrop.

Each beach has its own unique charm, making Orkney a must-visit destination for beach lovers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Plan your visit to Orkney and explore these incredible beaches for a memorable coastal adventure. Don't forget to bring your camera to capture the breathtaking beauty of Orkney's landscapes!