Watersports in the Outer Hebrides

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View the official guide to adventure activities in Scotland

  • A man sea kayaking in Stornoway harbour with Lews Castle behind, Isle of Lewis
    Sea kayaking in Stornoway harbour with Lews Castle behind, Isle of Lewis
  • A man sea kayaking around the Isle of Barra
    Sea kayaking around the Isle of Barra
  • A surfer by the Calanais Standing Stones on Callanish
    A surfer by the Calanais Standing Stones on Callanish
  • A surfer rides the waves off a beach on the Isle of Lewis
    A surfer rides the waves off a beach on the Isle of Lewis
  • Windsurfing on Loch Bee in South Uist
    Windsurfing on Loch Bee in South Uist

Surrounded by crashing waves and tranquil sea lochs, it is little wonder that the Outer Hebrides is a haven for watersports enthusiasts. Whether it’s surfing the Atlantic swells off Lewis, diving the kelp forests around the coast or exploring sea lochs from a sea kayak or sail boat, there are plenty of ways to get enjoy water sports around these isles.

Surfing

If you’re into surfing, the North West coast of Lewis is the place to head for incredible reef and beach breaks. You can enjoy some of the most consistent and least crowded surf in Europe with year-round swells and you may get a sense of tremendous enthusiasm that exists among the local community. As well as surfing, there are excellent wind-surfing opportunities throughout the Outer Hebrides. Uig Sands on Lewis is a recognised windsurfing spot, as are some of the more sheltered waters around the southern isle of Vatersay. Kite surfing and power kiting have also grown in popularity in the Outer Hebrides.

Kayaking

With so many fantastic sea lochs to explore, sea kayaking is a common pursuit around the islands. Paddle in the beautiful Stornoway Harbour or venture in caves or around sea stacks, whatever you decide you are in for a fascinating experience.  Kayaking also offers much to the wildlife enthusiast, allowing access to the habitat of the rare seabirds and marine life that thrive in the Outer Hebrides. 

Local instructors regularly run day trips for people of every skill level, from complete beginners to professionals.

Diving

There are some superb diving opportunities around the Outer Hebrides where, in clear waters, you can explore reefs, pinnacles and numerous wrecks, while observing the fantastic marine life. For the ultimate diving experience, take a boat trip to St Kilda, which has been rated one of the top five diving locations in the world.

Whichever sport you choose to enjoy during your stay, it’s imperative that you check the local weather forecast and tide tables before you set out; for your own safety and to ensure the conditions match your ability.

Sailing

Sailing is a wonderful activity to take part in whilst visiting the Outer Hebrides. The region is home to an excess of 200 islands to explore, and there are plenty of beautiful spots for mooring. Popular sailing destinations include the Flannan Isles and Mingulay.

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