Luskentyre Beach is the image of a South Pacific paradise (albeit with some fairly chilly temperatures); pearly-white sands and placid, cerulean-blue waters that meet crisp, cloudless skies. But Luskentyre in fact lines the western coast of the Isle of Harris – just off the north-western tip of Scotland – and it certainly holds its own against more exotic competitors as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Luskentyre is blissfully secluded and peaceful, with panoramic views of the ocean that make it seem as if it clings to the very edge of the world.
Several pathways wind across the grasslands atop the limestone cliffs of the Gower Peninsula, passing through small swamps, unkempt meadow and castle ruins and finally ending at Three Cliffs Bay – a picturesque little cove that is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful sites in Wales. A river meanders through the bay in the jagged peaks out towards the ocean. This natural phenomenon forms a narrow marshland which seeps into a beach patched with rushes, rock pools and shallow lagoons.
Whilst tourists flock to Cornwall with its picturesque beaches and charming towns, few venture as far as the Isles of Scilly, even though they lie just a little way off shore. The archipelago comprises five inhabited islands and hundreds more tiny islets. Pentle Bay, on the island of Tresco, rugged grassland lines a narrow and immaculate white sand beach where the waters shimmer a hundred different shades of blue.
There is an ethereal beauty to Traigh Iar Beach. Situated on the western side of North Uist Island, off the western coast of Scotland, Traigh Iar is a serene, crescent-shaped beach lined with the Hebrides’ distinctive and beautiful Machair terrain. Here, cattle and wild horses graze and the occasional thatched-roofed cottage sits atop a hill. Situated in a far-flung corner of the United Kingdom, the beach is wonderfully secluded, the waters still and the island air pure.
Llanddwyn is an enchanting little island that is connected to the west coast of Anglesey, northern Wales, by a narrow causeway surrounded by several small coves and sandy bays. A winding pathway leads along craggy precipices and grassy verges to the iconic white lighthouse that sits upon its rocky peak, overlooking the Irish Sea. Mystic and ethereally beautiful, Llanddwyn is thought to be where Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of love settled, after having been outcast by her family and attacked by the man she loved. Dwynwen’s legacy seems to blanket the island and imbues the beach with a touch of magic.
Guernsey is a small island in the English Channel which belongs to Britain but is geographically closer to the French coast of Normandy. Guernsey boasts stunning beaches, including Vazon, Cobo and Grandes. But it is Moulin Huet – an intimate and charming little cove that just might be the most idyllic. A small inlet sheltered by dark cliffs and scattered with large rock formations, this pretty seaside spot was frequented by French impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir who spent the summer of 1883 sketching it.
Holkham Beach in northern Norfolk, England, is a panoramic beachfront lined with windswept rushes, tall grasses and back-dropped by magnificent sand dunes. It is part of the Holkham National Nature Reserve which protects approximately 9,158 acres of British land. The hazy beach becomes almost completely submerged at high tide, leaving shallow streams and small lagoons when the water recedes. Holkham provided the romantic locale for the 1998 movie ‘Shakespeare in Love.’
The magnificent green hills that drop right onto the beach-front are what make Rhossili Beach in southern Wales unique. Officially designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty, Rhossili boasts three kilometres of golden sand. It curves around the foot of the slopes which are emerald-green in the summer and turn a fiery-auburn come autumn, and lead to the iconic Worm’s Head landmark – a long, serpent-like island connected to the mainland by a rocky causeway.
The gorgeous Murlough Beach is part of the Murlough Nature Reserve in Northern Ireland. It is a five kilometre stretch of smooth white sand at the foot of the shadowy peaks of the Mourne mountain range. The beach backs onto a majestic collection of 6,000-year-old dunes, many of which are blanketed in wild grasses and wonderful flower life, making it a site of great ecological significance and which several species of butterfly call home. Wild horses, fowl and waders can also be found wandering the sand hills, while the elusive and beautiful grey seal is frequently spotted in the water.
The dramatic coastline of Marloes Sands in Pembrokeshire, Wales, has been featured in films. Distinctively dark, tilted cliffs line the narrow waterfront and there are some truly spectacular waves. It’s a fascinating geological site as well as a unique, strikingly-beautiful beach.