What to do on Colonsay
Best beaches on Colonsay

Kiloran Bay

What to do on Colonsay

Sea arch on Colonsay, near Kiloran Bay

A large sandy beach located in the north west of the island that is popular with walkers, swimmers, surfers and paddle boarders. The stream that runs onto the beach is also great for paddling in and damming up to make a pool. The bay is overlooked by the bulk of Carnan Eoin to the north, sand dunes in the east and sea cliffs to the south. At the north end of the bay, off the small sandy cove, it is possible to reach the entrances to a number of caves in the cliffs. The two lower caves Uamh Shiorruidh or Endless Cave and Uamh na Mine or Meal Cave penetrate some 80 metres into the cliff. Uamh Shiorruidh branches into two chambers and contains a shell midden, evidence of having been occupied over 8000 years ago. Uamh na Mine has one major chamber and four sub-chambers, and has been intermittently occupied over a significant period of time. Torches are needed to explore these caves. The upper cave Uamh na Baintighearna, or Lady’s Cave, is one chamber with a midden. On the steep path leading to it there is a large slab with two Bronze Age cup marks carved into it. At the south west end of Kiloran Bay there is a lovely sea arch to explore from the beach at lower tide. Kiloran Bay is reached from the car park on the Balnahard at the northern end of the B8086.

Traigh Ban (Balnahard Bay)

Best beaches on Colonsay

Further along the track from Kiloran Bay on the island’s north east tip Traigh Ban, known locally as Balnahard, is a wonderful, tranquil spot for a swim or simply to sit and enjoy the fabulous views across to Mull, Scarba and Jura. I can almost guarantee that you’ll have this place to yourself. It is a personal favourite and one I love to share with special friends. There are plenty of historical features in the Balnahard Farm area including ruins of buildings,  standing stones and cup marks that suggest Neolithic/Bronze Age settlement in the area. To reach this beautiful bay walk from the B8086 to the north end of the Balnahard Track then downhill across the machair to the bay.

The Strand 

Best beaches on Colonsay

The shallow waters of the tidal strand that stretch between the south of Colonsay and Oronsay, are often warmed by the sun-heated sand when the tide comes in making this a fantastic place for a wild swim. This is also the main beach to cross to access the tidal island of Oronsay. Park at the south end of the B8085 to access The Strand.

Tràigh an Eacail (Cable Bay)

Best beaches on Colonsay

Locally known as Cable Bay, this stunning stretch of sand has fabulous views across to the Paps of Jura. To get there park at the The Strand (see above); walk 0.5 km north back along the road to start the walk from the track that leaves the B8085 road at GR NR 374 915, signed to Balarumin Mor. Continue along the track and pass the house to reach the beach after 2 km or so. It is also possible to walk north, finding your own route on the rough ground, to Rubh Dhubh and the small sand beach beyond.

Traigh nam Barc

Best beaches on Colonsay

A large stretch of hard sand at low tide, backed by machair and dunes of the Ardskensh Peninsula.  Walk west on the track from The Strand car park, via Garvard.

Tobar Fuar 

Best beaches on Colonsay

A small, sandy cove protected by rocky islets and sand bars that are great to swim to in the right conditions and also fabulous for paddle boarding. Get there by leaving the B8086 on the track to the airport, the beach is immediately to the right.

Paddle boards for hire and lessons

Many of Colonsay’s beaches make a great spot for paddle boarding. More information on hire and lessons here

More ideas on what to do on Colonsay

  • Cycle the island circuit – more here
  • Wild swim at Kiloran Bay and experience the “Colonsay washing machine”
  • Attempt all 22 MacPhies – more here
  • Help grow the whale sculpture by adding a stone – more here
  • Climb to the island highpoint for great views – more here – more here
  • Walk to the tidal island of Oronsay – more here