Shetland has almost 1,700 miles of coastline, carved from a geology that’s astonishingly complex. You can find boulder-strewn storm beaches as well as many stretches of white or golden sand.

Shetland has so many beautiful beaches, it's impossible to list them all. This selection isn't definitive and doesn’t pretend to be objective. We all have our own reasons for liking particular places: maybe we recall a child’s first paddle at the water’s edge, a great barbecue on a romantic summer’s evening, a close encounter with a seal or a dramatic, salt-sprayed walk on a wild day. Some beaches impress because of the surrounding scenery or unique rock formations. Others simply provide good shelter for a picnic.

With all that in mind, we present a cross-section of Shetland beaches, each of which has something special to offer.

1,697 miles of spectacular coastline

Find your nearest Shetland beach

Get inspired before you explore

Have fun, stay safe

Practical information before you go...

  • Sea swimming

    Wild swimming off Shetland's coastline has become increasingly popular in recent years. While everyone is welcome to take a dip at their leisure (and many of us do!), please be aware that there are no active lifeguards on any of Shetland's beaches. The waters around Shetland can be cold and the currents fast.

    Always let someone know if you do plan to go for a sea swim and where you're going to go. Check tide timetables, and be aware swimming will usually – but not always – be easier on a slack tide (an hour either side of high or low water) when less water is moving. Swimming on an incoming tide means the tide is helping keep you on the shore. Never swim out to sea on an outgoing tide – as the way back in may prove difficult.

    The Outdoor Swimming Society website has useful guidance on staying safe while outdoor swimming.

  • Scottish Outdoor Access Code

    Most of the beaches listed here are easily accessible on foot but a few do require a bit of a hike to get to them, some across croft land. Please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code at all times. This includes keeping dogs under control at all times, respecting people's private land, leaving gates as you find them, not disturbing wildlife and taking all litter home with you.

  • Beachcombing

    Warning: not everything that washes ashore is harmless or useful. Sometimes distress flares, or explosives from military exercises, or drums of poisonous chemicals can come in on the tide. Don't touch anything that looks suspicious but phone the Coastguards immediately on 01595 692 976 and they'll deal with it safely.

  • Local beachcombing custom

    If you plan to go beachcombing, a word about a local custom. It's not a law, as such, but you'll cause offence if you break the rule that says you can only pick up driftwood and other flotsam if it's lying below the highest tide mark. Anything 'laid up on da green', as they say, has been put there by someone else and they'll be back for it some day so please leave it alone. Considering the value of driftwood in a largely treeless archipelago, the fact that this rule is universally observed says something about the honesty of the islanders.

  • Dog walking

    There are no dog bans on any beaches in Shetland but, as a dog owner, it is your responsibilty to keep your dog under control at all times and to pick up and safely dispose of any litter.