Tiree, the most westerly Inner Hebridean island, is called the ‘Hawaii of the north’ and is a mecca for surfers. It’s perfectly placed to catch the swell from the North Atlantic, giving year-round, consistent waves. The island’s white sandy beaches face every direction and you’ll find conditions to suit all levels of surfer, from sedate rollers to barreling beach breaks. The island is home to some excellent surfing schools – Suds Surf, Wild Diamond and Blackhouse Watersports. The west coast of Kintyre is another of Argyll’s top surfing spots. Huge sandy beaches are often pounded by Atlantic breakers, making it a destination for adventurous (and very experienced) surfers. Westport Beach stretches for six miles to Machrihanish. It has its own surfcam so you can check the waves before you arrive!
Kayaking is a brilliant way to explore Argyll’s coastline. With secluded beaches, deserted islands and wonderful wildlife, this region is a paddler’s paradise. For a real adventure, you can’t beat the Argyll Sea Kayak Trail, which provides some of the best sea kayaking in Europe. If you don’t fancy all 150km of it, you can always try a section or two. There are a number of operators across Argyll offering sea kayaking instruction and guided trips for all levels. The sea around Oban and Lorn is fantastic for kayaking, as are the sheltered waters of the Kyles of Bute. Sea Kayak Argyll covers this stunning area of Cowal. Or how about going on a Hebridean island adventure with Kayak Wild Islay?
If you’re looking for some family kayaking fun, you can’t beat Gigha. Gigha Boats Activity Centre hires single and double 'sit on top' sea kayaks. You could spend many a happy an hour paddling in the beautifully sandy Ardminish Bay. Another option is to explore Loch Goil with Argyll Voyageur Canoes. The 26ft open Voyageur Canoe seats up to 10 passengers who paddle as a team, so it’s a great option for families looking for a fun adventure.
Set a course for Argyll & the Isles for some of the best sailing waters not only in Britain, but in the world. Sailors flock to the area for the scenery, varied coastline, stunning anchorages and excellent shore-side facilities. You could spend many happy seasons exploring the islands, inlets and secret coves by boat and discovering the marinas that dot Argyll’s coastline. Or how about experiencing one of Argyll’s many yachting events? Based around three of Argyll’s most scenic harbours, Craobh Marina, Oban and Tobermory, West Highland Yachting Week attracts hundreds of boats from all over the world. It’s a great opportunity for family sailing or for those who fancy trying competitive yacht racing for the first time.
Fancy learning the ropes? Tighnabruaich Sailing School has been teaching people to sail in the sheltered waters of the Kyles of Bute for over 50 years. With dinghy-sailing courses for adults and children, beginners and improvers, you’ll find something to suit. Stramash in Oban also offers dinghy sailing courses.
Stand Up Paddle Surfing (SUP), a paddling/surfing hybrid, is fantastic fun and, because you’re standing up, it’s a great way to spot marine life on Argyll’s coastline. Unlike windsurfing and sailing, it’s not dependent on wind so you can do it at any time. Sud’s Surf School and Wild Diamond both offer SUP instruction on the island of Tiree. Learn the basics in the calm waters of Loch Bhasapol and progress to catching waves in Gott Bay and Crossapol. Loch Lomond is another brilliant place to try this watersport. Can you Experience offers paddle board hire from its base at Loch Lomond Shores in Balloch. With safety boat cover on hand and breathtaking Loch Lomond views guaranteed, it’s a great introduction to SUPing!
The prevailing south westerly wind which blows over the west coast makes Tiree one of the best places to windsurf in Europe. Wild Diamond has a training centre at Loch Bhaspol, which is the perfect place to learn the ropes. It offers advanced training too. In general, if you’re an advanced windsurfer, March, April, May, June, September and October are the windiest and best months to visit. The summer months are perfect for beginners. The island also hosts the Tiree Wave Classic every year, the longest running pro windsurfing event in the world. It’s a brilliant time to visit the island, watch the competition and try a spot of windsurfing yourself.
Find out more about watersports in Argyll & The Isles.
Header photo: Sea Kayak Argyll