This article has been written with the support of CalMac.

Scotland's islands boast some of the world's most beautiful beaches

Sand and deliver

Barra Beach / courtesy: VisitScotland / credit: Paul Tomkins

Robin Hodge shares some of his favourites

The combination of golden sand, turquoise blue water, rolling surf and a backdrop of wild mountains has captured the heart and soul of countless visitors to Scotland's islands on the west coast. This all makes a compelling reason to visit and explore the area. Among the best-loved is at Scarista on Harris, a glorious arc of sand and sea that stretches along the shore with dunes thrown up at its back. It looks out to Taransay which was used in 2000 for reality TV series Castaway.

Further south, there are a beautiful series of smaller bays at the northeast corner of North Uist where the Atlantic rollers pound the shore. And still further south, impressive beaches lie on Barra, including the cockle strand which serves as the airport runway with take-off and landing scheduled according to the tides. On the Isle of Skye, it's worth walking out to the delightful coral beach north of Dunvegan. The sand is not in fact made from coral but from a rare white seaweed which has been crushed by the elements.

The singing sands of Eigg are celebrated for the sounds they make as you walk across them. To some less poetic ears, it's more a squeak than a song but it is a lovely island and there are magnificent views out across the water to the mountains of Rum.

Colonsay is home to many lovely beaches, the best being Kiloran Bay on the west coast. And if you time it carefully you can also wade across to Oronsay and visit the old chapel.

On Islay there's Machir Bay, a small bay on the west coast with 2km of dunes and beach to discover. This beach is not recommended for swimming due to particularly strong hidden currents. This can also apply to other beaches across the islands, so it's a good idea to check specific safety advice and take great care.

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