Despite its reputation for being a bit chilly surfing kayaking in Scotland can be a totally exhilarating experience. It has some truly wild and unique breaks and once the first rush of cold is over, it’ll make little difference whether you’re surfing Oahu in Hawaii or Thurso, on Scotland’s very own North Shore, as you’ll soon discover that Scotland has some of the best surf conditions in Europe!
Some of the best spots for surf kayaking can be found between East Lothian near Edinburgh and Eyemouth in the Scottish Borders in the east. In the west there are great breaks off Machrihanish in the Kintyre Peninsula, and on the island of Tiree and particularly off the west coast of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, and in the north the big waves off Thurso are high performance surf kayakers dream.
A dry cag or a steamer wetsuit might be an idea, but the waves that Scotland’s breaks provide are more than worth a sport of cold water for.
Here’s a brief guide to some of the best spots:
THE EAST COAST
Pease is a right hand boulder reef at southern end of the bay. It can form really nice waves and catches the most swell in the area.
The East beach can pick up fairly big northerly to south- easterly swells. If the wind is cutting up and it’s messy head to the other side of the harbour for some very clean waves… It can produce some sweet lefts.
Whitesands is home to one of the east coast’s best left reef points, which breaks a quarter of a mile out over kelp covered boulder reef. It can often be the first place to clean up and is able to handle it when the swell size increases. It is open to the wind though and there can be a bad rip on outgoing tide on occasions.
THE WEST COAST
The Isle of Tiree is the most westerly island of the Inner Hebrides. It is relatively small, about twelve miles long and three miles wide, but boasts some excellent surf breaks.
Lewis and Harris
Lewis and Harris are islands of the Outer Hebrides. A long journey is involved in getting to them, but the scenery and the surf is stunning.
THE NORTH COAST
Scotland’s own version of the ‘North Shore’ Big waves, reef breaks and large tubes make it a challenging venue, and it has hosted the Kayak Surfing World Championships in the past. It had a well-deserved reputation and Thurso is one of the best surfing locations in the United Kingdom due to its isolation and the size of the waves.