I stayed on Scottish 'Caribbean' island and landed on world's only beach runway

UK, Scotland, Traigh Eais beach in summer
-Credit: (Image: Westend61 / Getty Images)

When it comes to unique and interesting staycation destinations, there are almost too many to count in Scotland.

While some Scots will be jetting off abroad this summer, there is no shortage of spectacular places closer to home if you're looking for the perfect holiday. Easily among the most picturesque is the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides.

You may have seen pictures of the small island, which is beloved for its sandy beaches and one-of-a-kind green scenery. However, nothing can compare to seeing it up close.

Isabella Machin from The Mirror decided to see what all the fuss was about and head to Barra for herself. Here's what she had to say.

As the plane veers, my gaze is instantly drawn to the pristine sandy stretch as the pilot declares 'flight crew, ready for landing. ' We're about to touch down on the southernmost inhabited island in the Outer Hebrides at the world's only tide-dependent airport, Traigh Mhor, nestled on the northern tip of the Isle of Barra.

Despite its modest size — measuring just eight miles long and five miles wide — the island of Barra packs a punch. With its rugged coastline, flower-strewn moorlands, mile-long beaches and rich Hebridean history, it's the perfect UK island getaway — with some even going so far as to call it 'Barradise'.

Castlebay on the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland
Castlebay looks straight out of a fairytale -Credit:Feifei Cui-Paoluzzo / Getty Images

One of 15 inhabited islands in the Outer Hebrides, next to the smaller island of Vatersay, it is said to be a favourite summer cruise destination of the Royal Family. For the rest of us, access to the island is either by plane, landing on Cockle Strand beach, or by ferry from Oban to the main harbour at Castlebay.

Living up to its name, Castlebay is a town straight out of a fairytale — featuring traditional stone buildings dotted along the coastline. Its centrepiece is its charming parish church that featured in the 1949 film Whiskey Galore, based on the true story of islanders raiding a shipwrecked vessel for its 50,000 cases of whisky.

Home to a population of around 1,200, Barra's community is close-knit. I can honestly say that I have never met a group of people so kind.

Featured prominently along the coast is Kismul Castle, easily among the most beautiful castles in Scotland. Tourists can visit the 15th-century fortress, which is the only remaining medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides, between April and October via a quick five-minute ferry ride.

Exploring Barra is easier than you might think, with one 14-mile road wrapping around the whole island. Travelling along the road will take you past some of the most beautiful beaches that I have ever seen, featuring crystal-clear water and white sands that look straight out of the Caribbean.

Airplane Landing on Beach Barra Scotland
Barra can be reached either by plane or ferry -Credit:RoryMN / Getty Images

Easily one of my favourite spots on the island is Tangasdale Beach, which is home to a seemingly endless strip of sand bordered by clear aquamarine waters and panoramic views of the Atlantic. The strong winds here are perfect for surfers, kitesurfers, and windsurfers.

Found near the fabulous beach is the Isle of Barra Beach Hotel. Recognised as the most westerly hotel and pub in the UK, rooms start from £125 per night.

Further along the machair path, you'll reach Halaman Bay — a hotspot for spotting dolphins and otters — and the iron-age fort of Dun Ban. Elsewhere, a half-hour ascent up the striking Heaval mountain will reward you with some of Scotland's most stunning views.

Getting there

The easiest way to reach Barra is via the CalMac ferry from Oban, with the journey taking around four hours and 45 minutes. Alternatively, flights from Glasgow Airport with Loganair are also available.

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