Machrihanish, Scotland - Boards Windsurfing

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Machrihanish, Scotland

Legendary wave spot set in the stunning Kintyre Peninsula on the West coast of Scotland. With breathtaking views over to Ireland and Islay on a clear day you’d be forgiven for forgetting about the surf if it wasn’t so damn good! This four mile curved beach stretches from the actual town of Machrihanish at the South end to Westport at the North end and can offer absolutely classic surfing and windsurfing conditions on it’s day. It has three main breaks – Machrihanish (or South end), Middle Beach and Westport. It can get busy in the summer – particularly with a strong Westerly swell – but the beach is big enough for you to find your own little spot. In the winter however you can still get it all to yourself and this is when it regularly offers the most classic conditions.

Beach Faces:

North-east at Machrihanish curving round to West/North-west at Westport.

Best Wind Direction:

The Machrihanish end of the beach needs a South-west wind. Middle Beach and Westport are best with South-west through to South-east directions. However the predominant wind direction is West or North-west.

Best Wind Direction For Waves:

The best swell direction is North-west or West, anything else is blocked by Ireland.

Not Good:

Really strong Westerly or North Westerly with a big swell. A messy onshore nightmare with massive shorebreak.


Mid to high tide is best, though the tidal range is relatively small and it depends on the sandbanks as they shift a lot.

What’s On The Bottom:

Sand mainly though there are some rocks at Westport.

Any Hazards:

Rocks at Westport though they aren’t a big problem. Watch out for the rips though as they can be super strong. Under currents can be pretty bad too. On big days avoid it altogether if you aren’t confident in your sailing/swimming ability.

Other Water Users:

Heaps of surfers especially in the summer. They tend to disperse as the wind gets up though and the beach is big enough for it not to be a problem. The occasional weird goat boater may also appear.

Suitability / Levels:

It is possible for beginners to sail here in the summer with no swell but when there is any sort of wave it is strictly for experts or super confident intermediates. The currents can be very dangerous so make sure you are certain of your swimming ability.

Wipeout Factor:

Fairly major on a big day. With strong West or North-west winds the shorebreak can be pretty intimidating.


Not yet.

Kit Hire:


Friendly Factor:

It can get busy in the summer with a good forecast but the beach is big enough to find your own spot. In the winter when it’s best you can get it all to yourself. Locals are sound as well.

No Wind Alternatives:

It can get busy in the summer with a good forecast but the beach is big enough to find your own spot. In the winter when it’s best you can get it all to yourself. Locals are sound as well.



One stinking portaloo at Westport. Toilet block on its way apparently.


Nae chance.

Windsurfing Shop

Nearest is ProAdventure in Dunoon orBoardwise in Glasgow.


Campbeltown is a short distance away.


Free at Westport and ok for camper vans. Not so easy elsewhere due to military base & golf course.


A few in Machrihanish & Campbeltown.


Heaps of all varieties in Campbeltown. There is a proper campsite at the south end of the beach or you can just pitch up in the dunes at Westport end.
Visit Scotland is a good place to start for accomodation.

Local Knowledge / Secrets:

You really need to be there pretty regularly to monitor the movements of the sandbanks. In recent times Westport has been the place to be but the sand has shifted a lot in the past wee while and it doesn’t seem to be working so well at the moment. It’s worth taking a drive north as well sometimes as there are other spots to be found and the size of swell can vary quite dramatically from the main beach.


This is secretly Robby Naish’s favourite spot. You may also spot Sir Paul McCartney.

How To Get There:

From Glasgow take the A82 to Dumbarton and Crianlarich. Take A83 at Luss and head towards Campbeltown. Once in Campbeltown you’ll see signs for Southend and Machrihanish. This is the main way by road and will take about 4 hours from Glasgow. There is another secret way from Glasgow that will get you there in about half the time but involves taking two ferries, which are expensive. Search for a mystical place named Tighnabruaich…

Report By:

Jamie Currie

Photo Credits:

Jamie Currie


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