You can find this beautiful bay shaped in an almost perfect half circle and tranquil beach in the north-western tip on Islay, at the end of the Sanaigmore road, which starts at the red phone-box when you’ve passed Carnduncan. The road up is single-track and passes several farms, some oak woodland and rough fields before you end at the Outback Art Gallery. Hundred metres before the gallery, on your left, is the Exmouth memorial. It marks one of the most tragic peacetime shipping incidents on Islay. On the 28th of April 1847 the vessel “Exmouth of New Castle” was wrecked near Sanaigmore, on the west coast. 241 Irish emigrants leaving for a better future in Canada, were killed in this tragedy.
Between the memorial and the Outback Art Gallery is a space where you can park your car. You can also do so nearer the gallery which is usually open and serves great coffees and cakes. They also sell fabulous art work, paintings and more. Very much worth visiting!
You can enter Sanaigmore Beach though a V shaped opening on your left after the farm buildings and the burn. Walk along the wall on the field and either take the gate down at the bottom or go slight right over the dunes and then down to the beach where you’ll find a second gate with access.
The beach at Sanaigmore bay is sandy, has some beautiful shaped rocks here and there and the sea is usually safe for swimming if you’re staying close to the shore. On the right hand side of the bay, near the rocks at the end of the sandy part, you can find Dulse, which is a very healthy and easy to prepare seaweed. We used to eat it in our salads, it tastes like bacon. Finding it is pure joy but do so at low tide. And if you’re searching for seaweeds you can usually also find sea spaghetti’s. A healthy alternative for the real stuff!
On clear days you can see the Isles of Oronsay and Colonsay. Especially the white farmhouse near Oronsay Priory is easy to spot. On stormy days Sanaigmore can be a great place to watch some wave action, especially if you head to the top of the bay on the right.
Walks around Sanaigmore Bay
Besides enjoying the beach, Sanaigmore is also a great place for some walking. If you follow the coastline to your right you’ll find another bay around half a mile further north-west. If you’re more adventurous you can keep on following the coast until you reach Ardnave Point.
If you’re in for another beach I can recommend a walk to the west in the direction of the cliffs. Halfway you’ll find a very secluded bay and stunning beach, usually deserted as hardly anyone knows it. The beach can be found on the map under the name of Port Ghille Greamhair. It’s not that easy to find it as you’ll only see it when you’re almost there!
Walking the Sanaigmore Bay Cliffs
From the top of the Port Ghille Greamhair beach you can keep on walking north-west and easily find a way up to one of the cliffs. This is one of the most rewarding walks in this part of Islay as you’ll have amazing views over the island, and very dramatic views south and west over the Atlantic and the other cliffs. Make sure to wear proper footwear as it can be boggy and wet underfoot.
Flora and Fauna at Sanaigmore
At Sanaigmore you’ll find a huge variety in wildlife, from Corncrakes to Chough, Peregrine Falcons on the cliffs, Sea Eagles, many waders, gulls, hares, otters, seals and a lot more. If you’re into flora you’ll be pleased to know that you can find a huge variety of plants and flowers near the shores and in the dunes.