It's just like the song says ... we do like to be beside the seaside. Whether it's a visitor hotspot in the central belt on a sunny Saturday or a wind-blasted stretch of pristine coastline in the remotest corner of the country, there's something special about being on a beach. Here are 15 of Scotland's favourites ...

Coldingham Bay, Scottish Borders

What makes it special? A hidden gem, tucked away on the east coast. The perfect spot to recharge and reconnect. Bliss

If you’ve seen one beach, well you’ve seen them all. Or so I thought. We chanced upon Coldingham after securing accommodation nearby at the 11th hour. I’d never even heard of the place, so my expectations weren’t exactly high. But as we made our way down the steep road on the first morning there opened up before us a world of discovery, pleasure and sheer enjoyment. First impressions really do last and felt simply thrilling. Work, stress, everything were washed away in an instant. Even now the thought makes me laugh.

The sumptuous sands and the sprinkling of New England-style beach huts are perfectly framed by the rugged landscape. Ridiculously picturesque. The to-die-for properties nestled into the hillside only add to the sense of exclusivity. I love beaches in winter, and out of season it really felt as if the place belonged to us. A favourite destination for surfers, it also offers everything a child could want, whether they be budding sandcastle architects or intrepid explorers on the trail of a rockpool adventure.

Pit stop: The Beach Café makes it all too easy. Just pop in, grab what essentials you need (coffee and ice cream) and ... relax. Aaahhh!

Mark Eadie

Lunan Bay, Angus

What makes it so special? The remains of Red Castle ... and the the sheer scale of the place

With rolling sand dunes, surrounded by cliffs, Lunan Bay – between the east coast holiday towns of Montrose and Arbroath – is a perfect spot for an afternoon out. Visitors have been flocking to the area for centuries, many in search for precious gems and agates which can be seen glinting in the sun for some lucky eagle-eyed searchers. After the gem search, take a walk along to the crumbling remains of Red Castle, built for King William the Lion to defend against Viking invaders. Bird watching, fishing and surfing are also popular at the bay.

Pit stop: A small café serving fresh home baking, coffees and lunches sits just behind the dunes.

Hannah Rodger

Spey Bay, Moray

What makes it so special? Spoilers! Go there and experience it for yourself ... I'm not telling. Oh, and dolphins

Nothing is normal about this place. Spey Bay is where the mighty River Spey stops at the sea (really, I'm not joking … it doesn’t slow down or meander. It doesn't widen into a great estuary. It just stops. And if you don't believe me, go and see it for yourself).

There are giant, sweeping dunes, but not as you would expect them. They are made up of pebbles, not sand. Are you getting the theme yet? You really need to see this place.

Forget your bucket and spade when you come here … bring stout shoes to scramble among the stones, and your binoculars, to spot the salmon as they begin their journey up the Spey to their spawning grounds far inland, and the dolphins and seals that are often there to "welcome" them.

If you’re up Speyside way sometime, make sure you go here. You will not be disappointed.

Pit stop: On the A96 at Fochabers, near the turn-off to Spey Bay, lies the Baxters factory … and a café that sells the best pancakes on the planet. Don’t you dare miss them.

Andy Clark

Troon beach, Ayrshire

What makes it so special? Many a happy childhood holiday at Troon have stayed in my head and heart, and rediscovering this popular sandy beach and esplanade through the eyes of my own children has been really special.

Both my boys learned to ride their bikes along the wide esplanade. Ignore the odd bad press about loutish teenagers on sunny summer nights – this is a fantastic family-friendly spot, with excellent pirate ship playground, long curving sands and rock pools to explore. Take your buckets and spades for the sand, chase the waves, finish off with ice cream from the lovely South Beach Kiosk and enjoy stunning sunset views over Arran.

Pit stop: A five-minute drive away, at the end of the harbour (past the marina – keep going, even when you think you have passed the point of all civilisation) sits The Wee Hurrie. Easily one of the best chip shops in Scotland, with fish so fresh it has practically leapt out of the boats arriving in the harbour and sublime homemade tartare sauce. The queues are always long, but it is worth the wait.

Ann Fotheringham

Nethermill Bay, Pennan

What makes it so special? The swishy sound of the pebbles being pulled in and out on the waves; the glorious views; the chance you might spot a dolphin…

This secluded little bay next to the village of Pennan on the beautiful Banffshire coast is a joy to explore. There are mysterious caves, once used by bootleggers, to examine and seabirds aplenty fill the air, if you fancy a spot of wildlife-watching. Dolphins often pop into the bay for a play and, if you’re lucky, to pose for photographs. We discovered the beach when we stayed in self-catering cottages nearby and the kind owners even gave us a loan of their metal-detecting equipment to take on to the pebbly shore. Our boys loved the idea they might uncover some forgotten treasure ...

Just up the road is Pennan, the village which will forever be associated with the 1980s film Local Hero and that famous phonebox.

Pit stop: The Pennan Inn provides unfussy lunches and delicious fish and chips.

Ann Fotheringham

Scotland's favourite beaches. Part 1

Silver Sands, Aberdour

What makes it so special? The tasty treats at its busy Sands café

Ideal for a family day-out in Fife – and really not very far from the central belt – this silvery bay offers lifeguards in the summer, grassy playing fields, easy parking, crazy golf, rockpools and a playpark.

The silvery bay, with its glorious views out to the islands of Inchmickery and Inchcolm, is a 15-minute walk from the train station, in quaint Aberdour, and also makes a refreshing stop-off for those rambling the Fife coastal path. On sunny weekends, though, it can be heaving.

Pit stop: Beachside cafés don't get much better than this bay's popular Sands A Place By The Sea.

Vicky Allan

Huisinis, Harris

What makes it special?

The machair, which is formed by the wind-blown shell-sand creating the right conditions for a multitude of different grasses, which creates a blanket of colour in summer

As far west as you can get in Harris, at the end of a long and twisty single track, Huisinis nestles between the wild North Harris hills. If you are lucky, as we were, you may have it all to yourself. The west end of the beach is part of the North Harris Snorkel Trail because of its marine life. To the west of the township, if you climb to the highest point on the headland, there are views towards Lewis to the north. On a clear day, you’ll also see St Kilda. Wildlife spotters may see otters and golden eagles. Recommended for rugged scenery and peace and quiet.

Pit stop: Toilets and showers opened in 2017.

Garry Scott

Findhorn Bay Beach, Moray

What makes it so special? The seals lolling on its wild spit

Findhorn, famed for its alternative community, is also home to one of the most beautiful wildlife-spotting beaches on the Moray coast. Here, on the spit of sand and shingle, are often to be found seals, chilling between hunts for fish.

Findhorn village, pretty, and well serviced with pubs, sits on what can seem, on calm days, like a sheltered idyllic bay. Cross the spit, though, and sand and sea open up in a dramatic windswept coastline. Watch out for the passing dolphins and covet one of its brightly-painted beach huts

Pit stop: Nab one of the outdoor tables at the Kimberley Inn and watch the waders peck through the sand

Vicky Allan

Ord beach, Sleat, Skye

What makes it so special? Otters and eagles.

On the west of the Sleat peninsula with views across Loch Eishort to the Cuillin beyond, the sandy and pebble-strewn beach at Ord is a hub for wildlife with otters, seals and eagles – both white-tailed and golden – regularly spotted here.

There’s rarely more than a handful of people around and often you will have the place to yourself. When the tide goes out there are rockpools for guddling in as the bracing sea air blows away the cobwebs. It’s a wonderful spot to watch the sunset – or go stargazing on clear nights.

Ord isn’t the only spectacular stretch of shoreline in this part of Skye. Continue to follow the winding single track road southwest and you’ll come across the small townships of Tokavaig, Tarskavaig and Achnacloich which are no slouches in the beach departments either.

Pit stop: Head back onto the A851 and travel north to An Crubh, a community-built space with an excellent café serving up soup, toasties and home baking. Visit

Susan Swarbrick

St Cyrus

What makes it special? Scenery and escapism. This place has the wow factor in buckets and spades

St Cyrus – just a few miles north of Montrose – is simply stunning. I had no idea places like this existed in Scotland, until I found myself standing at the top of one of its towering inland cliffs taking in mile after mile of unadulterated sea and sand. It’s dizzyingly beautiful, in fact it’s easy to run out of superlatives to describe the place.

Descending down to the shore from Beach Road is an adventure in itself. Steep, but never heart-in-the-mouth. Perfect for giving those office-bound legs a decent workout, especially when it’s time to walk back up. The beach is situated in one of the country’s most diverse nature reserves, awash with colourful wildflowers and countless varieties of insects and birds. Just to add to the natural kaleidoscope, dolphins are known to skirt the coast, while peregrine falcons circle high above along the cliffs. Breathtaking.

Pit stop: Take your supplies with you and enjoy nature. However, the Old Bakery on Beach Road is ideal to swing past for that post-walk treat.

Mark Eadie

Kilmory beach, Arran

What makes it so special? A long, quiet, unspoiled stretch of seaside heaven

Getting there is almost the best part. Kilmory beach, on Arran's south-eastern tip, is accessed via a long, dusty track best navigated on foot. Bordered by tall hawthorn hedges that are underplanted by bluebells in spring and cow parsley in summer, the path slopes gently downhill until, suddenly, the hedgerows disappear and you are looking straight out to sea, with Ailsa Craig on the horizon and a glorious expanse of sand and shingle at your feet.

Turn left or right and you are walking part of the Arran Coastal Way, a 65-mile route which circumnavigates the island and from here heads westwards to Lagg or eastwards to Kildonan.

Why bother, though, when you can simply plouter about with bucket, spade and perhaps a portable barbecue. Amble a few hundred yards eastwards to see the lovely old Pladda lighthouse; or take a detour on your return to view the Torrylin chambered cairn.

Chances are you'll find yourself alone here on this inexplicably under-visited beach, conversing only with the shushing waves and a thousand gabbling seabirds.

Pit stop: Walk, drive or cycle roughly half a mile to the Lagg Hotel for a pub lunch. Cyclists will appreciate the hotel's Velo Café.

Susan Flockhart

Brora, Sutherland

What makes it special? The views out into the wild North Sea and along the coast. You can literally see for miles – and sometimes you can be lucky and spot a dolphin or minke whale

It was not the most pleasant day when we decided to take a stroll up to Brora golf course and along the beach. But if this beach can win you over on a cold Tuesday in February, I reckon it has to be pretty incredible. Past the golf course – complete with a flock of sheep which roam free – and on to a sandy beach which stretches for miles, it was a bracing walk that blew all the cobwebs away.

This unspoilt beach is great for taking a bit of time out from everyday life – sit on one of the benches at the edge of the golf course and get lost in the views. The golden sand stretches as far as the eye can see and not a hint of rubbish or plastic. We virtually had the beach to ourselves as well. Stunning.

Pit stop: We were staying in the nearby Royal Marine Hotel (just three minutes from the beach) and a warmer welcome or friendlier staff I've yet to experience. Pop into the bar for a pick-me-up or, better still, sample their delicious menu in the restaurant.

Victoria Brenan

Scotland's favourite beaches. Part 1

Cullen beach, Moray

What makes it special? A glorious crescent of golden sand with views over to the Sutherland hills and dramatic coastal walks at either end

Cullen is situated on the main A98 Moray coast road between Banff and Buckie. The beach is unmissable as the road sweeps past it. There is a car park just off the road where it goes under the viaduct.

The beach is relatively sheltered and strolling westwards along the sand dolphins make a regular appearance in the bay. It is also safe for swimming, if a tad cold, and popular for surfing and sailing.

Take a walk along the beach towards the cliffs at the far end, with paths up to the top and a path to the neighbouring village of Portknockie. At the other is the charming traditional fishing village, known locally as the sea town, with its picture-postcard traditional cottages.

At low tide, the area around the Three Kings has countless rock pools while the sand itself is perfect for a bucket and spade. If the weather is nice, which it regularly is on this part of the Moray coast, there is possibly no better beach in the country to spend a day.

Pit stop: Walk, drive or cycle roughly half a mile up the hill to the town’s main street for a legendary Cullen ice cream in the local sweetie shop. Around half a mile west of the beach is the Cullen Bay hotel which serves a world championship-winning Cullen skink, apt for the town that gave the fish soup its name.

Alan Simpson

Millport, Cumbrae, Ayrshire

What makes it so special? The ferry ride over from Largs, the crocodile rock and, of course, the Ritz café.

Rows of multicoloured shops and pristine white homes line Millport beach, while the pride of the town – the crocodile rock – sits menacingly in the middle, usually surrounded by intrepid children. Caves provide hours of entertainment for avid young explorers, while rain shelters scattered along the coast give good cover in unexpected rain showers. Hundreds of rockpools are a treasure trove of crabs, tiny fish and snails, and great for paddling.

Pit stop: The Ritz café for lip-smacking Italian ice cream and retro furnishings, or try a trip to Mapes joke shop for a plethora of toys, board games and tricks. The sweet shop next door is a must-see also, with the best selection of soor plooms, bonbons and toffees on the island.

Hannah Rodger

Balmedie, Aberdeenshire

What makes it special? The marram grass that forms a backdrop to the beach. Look carefully, for there are more than 200 species of bird that live here

It’s the dunes you will remember: they lie, like rolled up duvets, along the back of the beach protecting it from the wind, although not always (this is Aberdeen, after all, and that is the North Sea). You might have heard about a certain golf fan and US politician who built a course nearby, but put that out of your mind because there are 14 miles of dunes and sandy shore that will put you a million miles away from politics and politicians and everything else. There’s plenty of history though, including many old Second World War defences: remnants of an old conflict in one of the most peaceful places in the world.

Pit stop: Jump in the car and head for Aberdeen, which is just four miles away. Alternatively, the Cock and Bull pub near the beach also provides a warm combination of plain pub and fancy food.

Mark Smith