The Ultimate Ardroil Beach Guide (2023)

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Ardroil beach is on the western side of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, a one-hour drive from Stornoway. The beach is often called Uig Sands or Uig beach.

It is not as well known as the beaches on the Isle of Harris such as Luskentyre beach but it is just as spectacular. It is the best beach in Lewis and in the Outer Hebrides.

This is the beach on Isle of Lewis where tide times matter the most so plan your visit for low tide when the whole of Uig bay is one large area of white sand. With the Uig hills in the background the scenery is some of the best you can get anywhere in Scotland.

Ardroil beach Lewis is very tidal. This photo is taken at high tide. The bottom half of the photo is turquoise water. The other half is mainly blue sky with lots of white clouds. In the middle is a thing strip of beach and green and dark blue hills
Ardroil beach from Crowlista

Uig is also famous for the chessmen found on the beach in 1831.

The 78-piece chess set is made from walrus tusk and was found buried in the sand. It is believed to have been carved in Norway sometime in the 12th Century.

In 2019 a piece of the chess set was found in a draw in Edinburgh and sold for nearly £1m.

Apparently a few pieces are still believed to be buried in the sand so keep your eyes peeled while walking on the beach.

To learn more about the history of the chessmen visit Uig Museum or Museum nan Eilean in Stornoway where part of the chess set is on display.

Whilst in Stornoway also check out the beaches in Stornoway.

Ardroil Beach Map

Ardroil beach map

How to Access Ardroil Beach and Where to Park

Uig bay is green marshland and the beach with the tide coming in. In the middle is a white house on a green peninsula. Filling over half the photo are large dark hills and the sky is cloudy. The dark clouds cover the tops of the mountains

At low tide it is possible to get onto Ardroil beach at several different locations.

The easiest can be found by following the signs for “Ardroil beach” down to the right about halfway through the spread-out settlement of Uig. This road leads down to a car park with toilets by the Ardroil Sands campsite. From the car park it is a short walk over the dunes to the beach.

The what 3 word for the parking by Ardriol Sands campsite is await.denser.bagpipes

Other good areas to access the beach at low tide are:

  • Below Uig Sands Restaurant
  • By Timsgarry cemetery
  • The peninsula by Carnish beach
  • At Crowlista

Can You Swim at Ardroil Beach?

When the tide is in you can swim at Ardroil beach but it is very shallow.

The beach is more protected than many other beaches on Lewis due to the headlands at Crowlista and Carnish so you are less likely to get large waves.

Uig Sand is a white strip of sand in between green hills in the background and green machair with small yellow flowers in the foreground. The sky is blue with a few thin clouds on the right hand side.

Beach Activities

Walking is the most popular activity and Ardroil beach is dog friendly.

In addition to swimming, Uig bay is suitable for kayaking and kite surfing. Equipment hire can be arranged locally. Ask for details at your hotel or rental cottage.

In the summer months boat trips can be booked with Seatrek to beaches and deserted island which are only accessible boat.

Close to the Crowlista viewpoint is the Bruton stream (where the water from Uig sands drains into Uig bay) which provides the rare opportunity to catch salmon in salt water.

In other estuary pools such as the one by Boronish Bridge you can find sea trout. For more detailed information on fishing opportunities in the area read this guide produced by Uig Lodge.  

Also visiting Harris? The island has a few beaches to rival Ardroil beach. Look at the photos in this post on beaches in Harris to see if you agree.

Best Viewpoints

1. Walking on the Beach

Ardroil beach Lewis has white sand which fills half the photo which is taken from the beach. Behind is a thin strip of green hills and a couple of white houses. The rest of the photo is blue sky with one thing cloud running along the horizon

Walking on one of the beaches such as Ardroil or Seilebost in Harris at low tide is a unique experience not to be missed.

By starting your walk at Crowlista or Carnish (which is further out in the bay) remember that the tide will reach here first. When the tide turns the water comes in quickly because the bay is so shallow so make sure you leave enough time to get back to your starting point.

Tide Level: Around low tide

Parking: As described above or for each viewpoint below

2. On the Way to Carnish Beach

Uig Sands seen from Carnish at low tide. In the background are mountains and a dark dramatic sky. At low tide Uig bay is only sand so there is no sea. In the foreground is green grass a two sheep.

A small wooden sign saying “beach” points onto a small path between two houses. It does not look the start of a path but it is.

Walk the first hundred metres out towards Carnish beach and turn around. The top of the mountains is normally covered in cloud but that just adds to the atmosphere and dramatic scenery.

Tide Level: Best at low tide

Parking: At the end of the road past Carnish there is room for a couple of cars to park. If it is full park in the bay by Beach Bay cottage

The what 3 word for the parking is comedians.landlady.manage

3. At Crowlista (Cradhlasstadh)

People are walking in the distance on Ardroil beach as the tide is coming in from the right. The sea is green. In the distance are low green hills with a small white house. Behind are taller dark blue hills and the sky is cloudy.

To get the photo shown above or at the top of this post drive to Crowlista.

At the last sharp right turn a gate opens to the fields and water’s edge.

Tide Level: When it is sunny visit 1-2 hours before or after low tide to get the turquoise water colours which the Outer Hebrides is so famous for.

If it is cloudy go at low tide

Parking: By the gate mentioned above there is room to park two or three cars. This is a popular fishing spot so it can be difficult to park

The what 3 word for the parking is hamper.hazy.warblers

4. From Uig Sands Restaurant

View from inside Uig Sands Restaurant. It is empty but there are several tables with blue chairs. Some tables are round, some are squared. One wall of the restaurant is glass windows looking out to Uig bay behind. The view is of grassy fields and white sand. The sky is cloudy

Uig Sands Restaurant is worth a visit both for the food and the views. Make sure you try the smoked salmon from their own smoke house.

For the best chances of getting a window seat book an early table for lunch.

At this time if you haven’t been allocated a window seat ask politely if it is possible to have one. They are much more likely to be able to accommodate you early on than during dinner time. 

For more information on the restaurant and opening times read the Restaurants section below.

Tide Level: Go when you can get a booking, the views will be spectacular regardless of the tide level

Parking: Parking is available in the restaurant car park

Book a stay at Uig Sands Rooms next door

5. Climb to the Top of Suaineabhal

Uig bay from Suaineabhal. A large white cloud covers the top of the photo. The view is out to sea. In the foreground is the rocks of the mountain, behind is Uig sands when the bay is all sand and the green fields surrounding it

Most days the Uig hills are covered in cloud.

Even if it is clear when you start your climb you never know what the weather will be like when you reach the top – in this part of the world the weather changes quickly.

The path to the top is not well defined, so you should be confident in finding the route based on the landscape around you or by using an app on your phone such as

For a detailed description of the hike, as well as several others in the area, buy the Cicerone Harris and Lewis guide.

Tide Level: When the tide is out the beach is more visible but the most important consideration is to do the hike on a day when you can see something from the top

Parking: The path starts close to Carishader where it is possible to park along the road

The what 3 word for the parking is gymnasium.crispier.sweetener

Buy the Cicerone Guide to Walking on Harris and Lewis

Other Things to Do in the Area

Some of the most interesting things to see and do on Lewis are around Uig, but there are so many other sites to make sure you don’t miss. The Calanis Stones and Uig Chessmen are just two of the 46 things to do described in this post.

The two buildings making up the Uig distillery are long and one story. One building is grey with a large red door and red corrugated iron roof. The other building is red with a large red door and the same roof. In front the ground is shingles and paving stones. A bit of grass is growing among the stones.

1. Abhainn Dearg Distillery

This small whisky distillery in Uig is a perfect rainy-day activity.

It was established in 2008 and the first single malt was released in 2011.

With the small-scale production and authentic feel a tour here will be very different to any tour you might have done at one of the larger more commercial operations. 

Tours lasts one hour and must be pre-booked. The is cost £10 per person which includes one tasting. Visit their website to book a tour.

Opening times

Summer months

  • Mon – Sat – 11am-1pm and 2-4pm
  • Sun – Closed

Winter months

  • Mon – Fri 11am-1pm and 2-4pm
  • Sat – Sun – Closed

2. Uig Museum

At the Uig Community Centre in Timsgarry a group of volunteers run the local museum which describes island life over thousands of years. Exhibits include information about the chessmen, the vikings and life in Uig during more modern times. 

Admission is £2 per adult with no charge for children.

Opening times

Summer months (April to October)

  • Tue – Sat – 12-4pm
  • Sun – Mon – Closed

Winter months (November to March)

  • Closed

3. Lewis Chessman Statue

Driving down to Ardroil beach and campsite you will see a large wooden statue of a king chess piece on your left. It marks the general area where the chess pieces were found.

4. Carnish Beach

One of the viewpoints above is on the way to Carnish beach and it is worth walking the few hundred metres extra to get to the beach.

It is a pretty bay on the outside of one of the headlands of Uig bay. If it was in another location it would get many more visitors but being here it is overshadowed by Ardroil beach close by.

The good thing is that few people make it out here so you are likely to have the beach to yourself.

5. Aird Uig

At the end of the headland in Aird Uig is a disused RAF station. It is possible to see eagles and whales from here although you need to be incredibly lucky!

Restaurants and Cafes in Uig

A large see through pod with a round wooden table and seats inside. It sits on top of a squared concrete ground. Surrounding it is green fields with views out to sea. The sky is blue with some white clouds
The Edge in Aird Uig

Uig Community Centre Café – Uig

Next door to Uig Museum is a community centre café serving homemade lunches, cakes and hot drinks. Community cafes are a great way to support the locals so make sure you stop by!

It is also the only option listed here that is open during the winter months. Opening times are listed below but they sometimes change so have a look at the Uig Cafe Facebook page for the latest updates.

Opening times

Summer months (April to October)

  • Wed – Sat 12-4pm
  • Sun – Tue Closed

Winter months (November to March)

  • Fri – Sat 1-4pm
  • Sun – Thu Closed

Uig Sands Restaurant – Uig

Uig Sands is a family run restaurant which focuses on fresh local produce and fish. It is the one restaurant not to miss whilst visiting Isle of Lewis – both for the food and the views.

The restaurant serves a 3-course fixed price menu that costs £65 per person or £25 for children aged 13 and under. Bookings can be made here and it is essential to reserve in advance.

The restaurant is closed from the end of October until some time in March every year. To find out exactly when it re-opens, sign up to the e-mail list on their website.

Opening times

Summer months (March to October)

  • Wed – Sat from 4pm
  • Sun – Tue Closed

Winter months (November to March)

  • Closed

The Edge – Aird Uig

A 25-minute drive from Uig beach, in Aird Uig, is the small café The Edge. During the day it sells homemade cakes and lunches but it is also open for one pre-booked sitting for dinner at 6.15.

Seating is on shared tables in a cosy room which is decorated a bit like someone’s living room. During the day, if the weather allows, sit at one of the tables or pods in the garden which provides views out into the Atlantic Ocean.

The café is normally closed between November and March but exactly when it closes and opens each year depends can vary. Check the The Edge Cafe Facebook page for the latest information.

Opening times

Summer months (March to November)

  • Sun – 12-4pm
  • Mon – Thu – 11-4pm
  • Sat – Closed

Shops – Uig

The nearest shop to Ardroil beach is at the Uig petrol station. The range of groceries is limited so for more variety you will have to go to Tesco or Co-op in Stornoway.

There are no other shops in Uig.

Uig (Lewis) Accommodation

Cottages can book out over a year in advance. Hotels on the other hand often have availability at shorter notice. For stays of less than 5 days hotels are the only option.

Hotels near Uig Sands


Cottages have a minimum stay of 5 to 7 nights. Some of the best cottages in the area are:

In a beautiful location close to the car park for the beach is Ardroil Sands campsite. It is open for caravans and tents and operates on an honesty box system.

Toilets, showers and a water point is available.

How to Get There


The drive from Stornoway takes one hour with the last 30-minutes being on a single lane road.

A car provides significantly more freedom than taking public transport so I highly recommend to rent a car.

Public Transport

Bus schedules are generally aimed at school children. As a result there are no buses on Sunday’s and a limited service during school holidays.

The bus journey from Stornoway takes 1.5 hours and stops at Ardroil, Crowlista and Aird Uig. The route is W4 and is called Stornoway to Uig. Check the latest timetables before travelling.