Top 10 Beaches in Ayrshire

A busy Ayrshire beach
A busy Ayrshire beach

Ayrshire is renowned for an array of different reasons, from Robert Burns to the world famous golf courses showing just why we are the true home of golf. One reason people visit Ayrshire time and time again is for our unbroken, 45 mile stretch of golden sandy beaches, some even voted as Scotland’s best!

Firm family favourites, tourist hotspots and the odd hidden gem combine to make the Ayrshire coastline one of the most used and naturally beautiful in the country. No visit to Ayrshire in the summer time is complete without a stroll along the sand with a cone in hand! Each and every beach is special in its own way, and every one of them worth a visit.

To narrow down the beaches to the 10 best caused much controversy here at Discover Ayrshire HQ; everybody here has made their own amazing memories at beaches up and down the 45 mile stretch, making them all worthy of a spot on our site.

No matter which one you do decide to visit, whether it made our top 10 or not, we’re sure you’ll have an amazing time and will make your own special memories with those you choose to visit it with. Here are our top picks:

Largs

A firm favourite with the many tourists that visit Ayrshire each year, Largs seafront is one of the most vibrant and entertaining on offer. Billed as a tourist destination for many decades, Largs attracts more visitors than almost every other location in Ayrshire, so it’s no wonder you will find plenty to see and do!

The pebble-laden beach provides the focal point for all the action, a spot where you will often find keen sun-worshipers and those desperate to show their lack on sanity by taking a dip in the chilly waters. Similarly the wall separating the beach and path is lined with couples and families enjoying their Nardini’s ice-cream, which becomes a necessity when visiting Largs!  

As you sit on the beach-front wall you can take in the busy ferry port shipping passengers back and forth to the Isle of Cumbrae, upon which you’ll find another great beach in the small town of Millport!

Back in Largs the sea-front is lined with palm trees, beautifully nurtured plant beds and kids fun rides, all combining to create a real family atmosphere. This busy seaside town is great for all ages and is perfect for relaxing whilst taking in the fresh sea air. The pebble laden beach also provides you with the perfect opportunity to show off your skimming skills, or lack of…

Ayr

The fan favourite! One of the best beaches in Scotland, Ayr Beach has been awarded a Seaside Award from Keep Scotland Beautiful. This long, sandy beach is perfect for families relaxing, digging, swimming or walking.

This beach is massively popular during the summer months with those holidaying in Ayr as well as those travelling from other parts of Ayrshire and beyond looking to enjoy a day by the sea. The grass by the side of the beach is called Ayr Low Green and it provides fantastic entertainment for the children, from kicking a ball around, to good old classic games like hide and seek or tag! 

Ayr Low Green is the centre of attention when the Scottish Airshow visits Ayrshire each September. Over 50,000 people cram into this vast area to catch a glimpse of the action from above as this popular location provides the perfect spot for hosting such a major event.

Cafes and restaurants overlook the beach, as well as playgrounds, fun rides, ice-cream parlours, adventure golf courses and kid’s soft plays. This attraction firmly puts the Ayr in Ayrshire!

Portencross

Located just a mile north of West Kilbride and Seamill, Portencross Beach is one of the most hidden in Ayrshire. This picturesque location is popular with locals of the area, each using it to escape reality and relax away from busier areas around the region.

This small beach has a small sandy section and the rest of the main beach is rocky, perfect for rock-pooling and searching for sea-creatures! The Ayrshire Coastal Path passes right through Portencross on the section between Ardrossan and Fairlie.

The quiet beach is home to the ancient Portencross Castle, an Ayrshire monument which dates back as far as the 14th Century. The castle has recently been renovated by a group of local volunteers and the castle is now open for tours during the summer months and we must say, is well worth a visit!

Head further down Portencross beach and you’ll find the old pier, upon which you can marvel and the view over to the Isle of Arran. The pier at Portencross has been described as the second concrete pier to be built in the world and was used to transport locally grown Ayrshire potatoes to the lucrative market of Glasgow by paddle steamer.

Be sure to visit the history and calmness of Portencross, we can guarantee you’ll be glad to have visited.

Dunure

Another fantastic hidden gem of a beach can be found around 7 miles south of Ayr in the sleepy South Ayrshire village of Dunure. This pebble laden beach offers a quiet retreat from the busy nearby town of Ayr and allows you to breath in the fresh Ayrshire air as the tide rolls in.

Dunure Castle is the feature piece of this beach, towering proudly over the harsh waves and rocky surfaces below. It is thought this castle has stood in the current position overlooking Dunure Harbour since around the 1250s.

Below the castle the quiet beach offers a relaxing walk to those keen on climbing down from the road to adventure further. Small bungalows line a section of the beach-front giving Dunure a real historical feel. Head further along and you’ll find the busy fishing port of Dunure Harbour.

Popular for small fishing businesses and the occasional boat tour, the Harbour provides the perfect view when your visiting one of the cafes and restaurants overlooking.

Overlooking the castle and beach you will find Kennedy Park, complete with a children’s pay park, a skate park and other public amenities.

Discover Ayrshire recently voted this as one of Ayrshire’s best hidden gems following a recent visit and we urge you to do the same yourself!

Troon

Another favourite with tourists visiting Ayrshire is Troon Beach, with its long, sweeping stretches of golden sands. The beach sits within reasonably close proximity to the town’s train station, making it a hugely popular location in the summertime with visitors from the likes of Glasgow and Paisley looking to escape the gloomy city and enjoy a day by the sea.

This beach enjoys unspoiled and truly spectacular views over the water to Ailsa Craig and the Isle of Arran, allowing you to dream up your next Ayrshire adventure before this one has even begun! The Troon sands provide you with the perfect setting to catch some rays or just chill out with family and friends for the day.

The beach is surrounded by a wealth of activities allowing you explore beyond the seafront. The hugely popular pirate themed children’s playground is the highlight for many youngsters visiting Troon, with the ice-cream stalls, local shops and quaint cafes all keeping the adults happy too!

Heading to Troon? Get your towel and trunks at the ready for a great family day out!

Sannox

The perfect island retreat. Located to the North East of the Isle of Arran, Sannox is one of the most secluded and private beaches in Ayrshire.

Arrive in the village and you’ll have to take a short hop over the stepping stones which will lead you down a beautiful pathway to the pink sands and small dunes of Sannox beach. This small sandy beach allows you some privacy as you relax, sunbathe or just take in the scenery.

The mountains on Arran provide the backdrop to this truly stunning location and you look out over the Ayrshire coastline. Just a short hop from Brodick, Sannox is a sleepy village with fantastic woodland providing you with great views over the hills and glens the Isle of Arran boasts in abundance. Whether you are on a romantic getaway or a quiet family trip, a picnic is a must for this beach as once you arrive, you’ll never want to leave! 

Irvine

Set with a quite simply stunning backdrop of golden sands and picturesque sweeping dunes the length, Irvine beach is the perfect setting if you prefer a somewhat quieter visit to the beach.

Little over a mile from the town centre sits this lengthy beach, popular with locals walking and running as well as visitors and dog walkers. Head down on to the sand and marvel at the stunning views over to the Isle of Arran and Ailsa Craig, views that really make you appreciate Ayrshire and all it offers.

The scale of Irvine beach makes it a much quieter location compared with many others in Ayrshire as the large sandy stretches, dunes and accompanying Beach Park provides ample space for couples and families to chill out and enjoy the stress-free time they not doubt deserve!

Whilst the sand provides sun-worshipers the chance to relax and take it the serenity of the waters rolling in, the Beach Park provides a quiet getaway from the busier areas of the town. This extensive green space boasts acres of grass and trees as well as fantastic amenities for those looking to make the most of their trip to the seaside.

The boating pond provides the focal point for the park with picnic sites, outdoor gym equipment, a family BBQ area and a free Irvine themed crazy golf course are among the many activities on offer.

Plenty of paths around the park provide the perfect setting for romantic walks. Follow this with a walk along the Harbourside and you’ll wonder why you’ve never visited Irvine before!

Millport

Commonly known as Newton Beach, this main stretch of beach sits on the seafront in the busy tourist destination of Millport, Isle of Cumbrae. Visitors from near and far board the ferry in Largs for the 10 minute journey to Cumbrae before travelling by bus to Millport, the only town on the island.

Newtown beach has been awarded a blue flag showing the work that goes in to keeping the area clean and tidy, meeting all stringent environmental standards. The beach itself is always full of families on calm summer days, with the sands protected by Millport Bay. Visitors can enjoy sitting on the golden sands with spectacular unspoiled views of the Clyde Estuary and Little Cumbrae.

One of the most famous attractions on Newtown Beach is the Crocodile Rock! Over 100 years ago a local by the name of Mr Brown was passing after a lunchtime drink or two (or maybe three) and saw the bare rock as a crocodile. So he decided to set to work with a brush and paint and over the years it has become a famous landmark that has attracted many generations of children to have their photograph taken with it!

If you’ve had enough laying around the beach there are plenty of activities such as cycling, walking and golfing to be had, or cafes, restaurants and pubs if it’s a more relaxed approach you are going for!

Girvan

One of the main beaches in South Ayrshire is located in the quiet but friendly town of Girvan. This charming sandy beach is popular with locals and visitors alike thanks to its close proximity to the town centre and residential areas.

As you relax by the calm waters of Girvan Bay you can take in the views over the water to the likes of Mull of Kintyre, the Isle of Arran and Ailsa Craig. Sit on the beach-front and you might just be lucky enough to spot one of the more secretive residents in Girvan, seals! These timid creatures can often be found playing in the waters around the harbour and beach, so keep your eyes peeled!

This fantastic beach is conveniently located alongside a range of local amenities such as an amusement arcade and children’s play area. Should you wish to try something a little different there is an excellent boating pond located on site, perfect for small craft or remote controlled boats. A range of local shops, cafes and pubs allow for a relaxing visit to Girvan whilst taking in how the locals live and socialise.

With so much to see and do there really is no excuse not to visit! Oh, and you might just get in on the act of spotting a seal or two!

Saltcoats

Saltcoats remains a popular destination as a holiday resort for those visiting from other parts of the UK, most of whom are attracted to the town thanks to its seaside location.

The golden, sandy beaches of Saltcoats are often buzzing with couples and families on a summers’ day, and of keen walkers during the winter months. The small harbour in Saltcoats is no longer in operation, however remains of its use are still evident, and the history of this 17th Century port can be explored in the nearby North Ayrshire Museum.

A walk along the sands or sea-front paths allow for a relaxing time, with a large children’s play area designed to keep the kids happy too. Ample green space is on offer for kids playing with balls or for those not so keen on the sand!

Head further round the bay towards Stevenston and you will come across the remains of the former Saltcoats Outdoor Swimming Pool, one of the most popular attractions in Saltcoats in years gone by. On most days back in the 1950s & 60s, this sea-water pool attracted as many as 2000 people, making it one of the most used in the country at the time. Sadly, nowadays if you’d like to take a dip you would have to be mad as the water is renowned as always being cold!

There is lots to see and do in Saltcoats, so don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the beach after your next visit!