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Outer Hebrides Surf Guide

Sitting on the far NW extremity of the UK the Outer Hebrides are made up of the islands of Lewis-Harris, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Barra. This forms 150 miles of Atlantic facing shoreline with numerous reef, point and beach breaks. With such an exposed position the islands receive swell coming from the South West, West and North directions. The biggest of the islands is Lewis and has beaches and reefs facing most directions to make the most of wind from all compass points. The landscape varies from flat peat moors in the north to more mountainous terrain in the south as you reach Harris. The majority of the population lives in the main town of Stornoway with outlying villages scattered along the west side of the island. The surf breaks are scattered down the west side from the Butt of Lewis in the far north to the Long sand beach of Scarista on Harris, the north east coast also has spots that work on northerly swells and west winds. The desolate and remote landscape gives a raw feeling of surf exploration with possible peaks waiting to be found around the next headland, you may not be the first person to surf there but at times when you haven’t seen a footprint in the sand and there’s nobody in sight it certainly feels like you are.

The main breaks are:

Europie- This is the most northwesterly beach on Lewis. Picks up lots of swell and a good place to head in summer when the waves are smaller. Good peaks bellow the cliff at the southern end at low tide. Can have strong rips here on all tides.

Barvas- Right hand boulder reef that can hold big swells and works on all tides. Can be a long paddle out when over 6ft with stronger rips the bigger it gets.

Bragar- Long left hand point that breaks over a rocky reef into a large bay. Works on most tides depending on swell size. Parking is on the north side of the bay beside the cemetery.

Dallmor- The most popular surf beach on lewis, can have good sandbars and offers some protection from strong winds.

Cliff- Good beachbreak usually with two distinct peaks that work best at low tide. Can handle bigger swells and have fast powerful waves.

Mangesta- Small south-facing beach that can pick up small swells and have good peaks. Can get very big and dangerous with bad rips as the swell size increases.

Scarista- Beautiful long beach on Harris with peaks along its length, better at the southern end but exposed to wind.

Tolsta- A mile long beach on the northeast coast that works on all tides and receives any north swell.

With a lot of single track road and miles of untouched landscape it can feel like the possibilities are limitless, visit with an open mind, a sense of adventure and a respect for the locals and natural environment and you are sure to have a memorable and lasting surf experience.

Many thanks to Mark from Lewis Surf Trek for this guide. Based in the Western Isles of Scotland, they provide amazing charter style surfing adventures exploring the waves around the Outer Hebrides in a purpose built surf vehicle that has to be seen to be believed! Trips are run with a maximum of four guests and a driver/surf guide. Being fully self sufficient and mobile allows them to maximise the surf experience by being able to travel to and stay wherever surf conditions are best. Lessons also available.

For more information, visit www.lewissurfttrek.com.

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