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A girl kayaking with a group of people at sunset

Boasting over 10,000km of pristine coastline, glistening lochs and winding rivers, it’s no surprise that there are some amazing destinations for watersports in Scotland.

Whether you’re looking to climb aboard a sea kayak, ride the rapids or surf the Atlantic swell, there is an adventure for everyone here.

Continue reading to find out more about the top things to do in Scottish waters…

Stand Up Paddle Boarding in Scotland

A person balancing on a paddleboard in the water at sunset

An evening spent gazing at the Hebridean sunset whilst gently paddling the calm sea is one to remember. Who needs the Mediterranean when delights like these rest right on our doorstep?

The skill to paddleboarding is to stand up straight as quickly as possible, positioning your two feet directly in the middle of the board.

Learn to balance your body and float along the calm, reflective waters. From here, soak in the spectacular Scottish scenery from a different perspective.

The coast of the Outer Hebrides provides a truly magical backdrop to enjoy this popular watersport in Scotland. The beach at Iochdar is sheltered, so it’s perfect for little ones or beginners looking to perfect their technique.

A young boy stood on a board in the water holding a paddle

Paddleboard Fort William is a wonderful way to enjoy this sport whilst soaking in the spectacular scenery of Scotland’s tallest mountain.

Glide down the Caledonian Canal and experience the remarkable views of Ben Nevis or the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Kayaking in Scotland

Perhaps the most common watersport activity, there’s a wealth of wonderful locations to try your hand at kayaking in Scotland.

A group of people kayaking on a body of water at sunset

Amongst the best places to kayak in Scotland is the West Coast. One of the most well-known is Big Sand Beach, located in Gairloch.

Appropriately named, its size means that you’ll have plenty of room to enjoy, whilst it’s crystal-clear is what draws visitors.

Longa Island sits off the shore, making for a brilliant sea kayak excursion. Glide across the waters of Loch Gairloch to uncover the secrets of this uninhabited island.

Gairloch Kayak Centre offer half day and sunset sea kayaking tours, with expert tuition available. Suitable for beginners, you can get out and experience the waves no matter what your level of fitness or experience.

A view of Glenfinnan Railway Viaduct and the surrounding countryside

Loch Sheil is arguably one of the best lochs to kayak in Scotland. A must for movie-buffs, this breath-taking location is where the Hogwarts Express passes over the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Harry Potter.

This magical backdrop makes for a truly enviable photo op.

Surfing in Scotland

Three surfers running into the sea

Experience the Atlantic Surf with this much-loved watersport in Scotland! An outdoor activity typically enjoyed on the South coast of England, there’s plenty of must-visit surfing locations here in Scotland.

Over the years the Western Isles has enjoyed a vibrant surf scene, with growing numbers of visitors being drawn to the sport. The best surf spots, beaches and breaks here have been well-documented, so visitors can plan their trips according to the conditions.

You’ll find SurfLewis & Harris surf school in the Hebridean town of Stornoway, offering both equipment hire and training. Lessons are available for beginners, with the aim of getting you in the water and up on the board in two hours.

A man teaching a young girl how to surf on the shore

Hosta Beach, on the Isle of North Uist, is one of the most renowned beaches in the area to catch a wave. This pristine beach is better suited to experienced surfers, owing to the strength of its swell.

The town of Thurso, nestled on northern edge of mainland Scotland, is considered a world-class surf spot.

One for the adrenalin junkies, the consistent and quality waves here make Thurso one of the best spots to enjoy this watersport in Scotland.

Wild Swimming in Scotland

Wild swimming has grown in popularity over the past few years, with the activity fast becoming one of Scotland’s favourite watersports.

Without the necessity of boards, boats or wetsuits, wild swimming is by far the easiest way to enjoy the water. Grab your cozzie and your towel and take to the water!

A young child making a splash in an open body of water

Milarrochy Bay, positioned amongst the rural landscape of The Trossachs National Park, is a must for any eager wild swimmers.

Glistening waters reflect the craggy peaks of the surrounding Munros, providing a truly enchanting setting for an afternoon paddle.

The Witches Cauldron sits a short distance from Fort William, offering wild swimmers something a little different. Here you’ll find a succession of three waterfalls and pools, each deep enough to enjoy a dip.

Wild swimming in Scotland is evolving, with organized clubs, sociable events and competitions taking place across the country.

Three people swimming together in open water

One of the biggest on the calendar is the inaugural ‘Go Swim’ at Loch Morlich. Go Swim combines the joys of wild swimming with the razzamatazz of a big event.

Facilities include first aid teams, changing facilities, parking, chip timing and finishers medals, so you can really make a day of it. There’s even a family-friendly 250m course suitable for little ones aged eight or above.

Cliff Jumping in Scotland

A man diving off a cliff and into an open body of water

Not for the faint of heart, this activity is by far the most challenging on our list of watersports in Scotland. Despite this, cliff jumping is an easy sport to get your head around.

Cliff jumping does what it says on the tin. It involves jumping from varying heights of a cliff and into a body of deep water below.

Competitive cliff jumpers dive from heights ranging between 59 to 85 feet, which is a staggering feat to face.

A man jumping from a height off a cliff and into the sea

It’s important to start this one under the strict supervision of a trained instructor. As with any outdoor activity, cliff jumping comes with its dangers, which in some cases can be fatal.

Ace Adventures Hideaways in Moray offer cliff jumping excursions across the county, ideal for thrill-seekers. All of the necessary safety gear and training will be provided, with the additional extra of thrills to be expected along the way.

Hold your breathe as you leap from the safety of dry land and pierce the surface of Loch Ard.

Tempted to try your hand at one of these exhilarating watersports in Scotland? Choose from our wonderful range of holiday cottages in Scotland and secure the base for your Scottish adventure today!

For more inspiration on how to make the most of the spectacular scenery, give our guide on the hills in Scotland a read! 

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