Scotland Surf + Travel
I’m often asked for recommendations for people who want to visit Scotland and surf. Here are some of my favourite places and a couple of tips, I hope you find them helpful! A lil disclaimer, some of the surf spots I recommend won't be suitable for beginners, remember to properly research every spot before you paddle out :) The best resource I’ve found for surf trips is the Stormrider Surf Guide Europe, there you can find a guide to every spot, it's the best.
My favourite trip to do in Scotland is to visit the Outer Hebrides on the West coast. You’ll need to take a ferry however it’s well worth it for the scenic roads, turquoise water and white sand beaches. Horgabost is a spectacular campsite, you can pitch a tent overlooking the ocean. My favourite beaches to surf there are Eoropie, Cliff beach and Mangersta. When the wind is too chaotic to surf, I loved doing the walk to Eileen Glad Lighthouse (inside was the cutest, most random cafe ran by an elderly couple who live there each Summer). Playing golf at the Isle of Harris golf club was a lot of fun and Bunabhainneadar is the most isolated, spectacular tennis court I've ever played at.
(Above left: Surfing at Eoropie, Above middle: Highland coo in Thurso, Above right: Tennis at Bunabhainneadar)
Another favourite trip of mine is to drive the NC500. The roads are breathtaking- over mountains, passed stunning beaches and cute harbours. As the road is very popular, there are many cute cafes, galleries and well maintained campsites along the way. Some of my favourite places to eat are Shieldaig Bar & Coastal Kitchen and Applecross inn, the seafood is amazing. The Store Bistro & Bar in Thurso is super special. The NC500 will take you through Thurso, the most famous place for surfing in Scotland. My favourite surf spots there are Strathy and Shit Pipe.
If you've got the extra time, it could be worth checking the surf forecast and visiting the North East coast. A lot of people ask me about surfing there as that's where I used to live and where all of my old surfing photos and videos are from. I don't normally recommend surfing there because I find the surf to be very fickle. However if you luck out, Sandend and Banff can be fantastic places to surf. Sandend is a quaint village with a picturesque harbour and probably my favourite wave in Scotland. Nearby is an amazing walk to Findlater castle and Sunnyside beach. Nearby town Cullen has a couple of cute antique shops and cafes, as well as my favourite food van in the car park next to the links golf course. It's a lovely walk down Cullen beach to Portknockie, you'll pass by the photographer's favourite - Bow Fiddle Rock.
(Above: Surfing at Cliff)
I think the best time of year to come for weather is in May and June. The best time to come for waves is Autumn/Winter/Spring. Personally I would come in Summer even though it’s not the prime time for swell. I find even in peak surf season, the surf in Scotland is pretty fickle and is often messed up by wind, storms and flat spells. To avoid disappointment, you’re best to not think of your trip exclusively as a surf trip, instead come in Summer and do a trip like the NC500 where you can enjoy all of the scenic roads, beaches, cafes, distilleries, castles in fine(r) weather. Hopefully you will luck out on some surf while passing through Thurso along the way.
It is best to travel with your own surfboards and wetsuits. If you are a beginner, you won’t have any problems finding lessons and foamie and wetsuit hire at many popular surf spots like Dunbar, Aberdeen, Sandend, Fraserburgh and Thurso. However if you’re looking to hire a hard board, they’re a lot harder to find. If you can't bring your own, I believe North Coast Watersports in Thurso and Surf Lewis on the Outer Hebrides have a wider range of surfboards to hire. In summer I’d bring a 5/4mm wetsuit (you could probably get away with a 4/3mm) and in winter I’d bring a 6/5mm with hood, boots and gloves.
(Above: Camping at Horgabost)
I’m often asked by lovely people if there’s a shop where it's possible to buy one of my fleeces in Scotland. I’m afraid the sales from my website keep me so busy that I haven't ever had time to sew stock for any shops. However, I’m always happy if people are passing through where I live in South West Wales to meet up and give you your fleece in person or try on a few sizes :)
I hope some of my recommendations have helped you a little on planning a trip to Scotland! I wish you the best ever time there and only the best weather and waves. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email me!