In the far northern reaches of Scotland is a bay of golden sands and clear, turquoise waters. This is Sango Sands Beach in Durness. Also known as Sango Bay, the picturesque beach is surrounded by craggy cliff walls and interesting sea stacks. This Durness beach invites exploration as well as a place to relax and enjoy the breathtaking coastline. Honestly, you’ll hardly believe you’re still in the British Isles. Whether you head to Sango Bay Viewpoint to enjoy 360 vistas, spend the night at Sango Sands Oasis Campsite, take to the coastal trails or just simply pass through along your NC500 road trip, you’re sure to fall hard for this spectacular Scottish beach.
In this guide, we’ll tell you how to get to Sango Sands Beach in Durness and things to do there. We’ll tell you about other spectacular Durness beaches to visit in the area as well as places to stay, like the wonderful Sango Sands Oasis Campsite. Lastly, we’ll look at some travel essentials and throw in some bonus tips.
To see footage of the wider NC500 road trip, feel free to watch our NC500 Hikes production.
For other epic beaches in Scotland and along the North Coast 500, read our post on Beaches Along the NC500. Otherwise, read our Complete Guide to Hikes Along the NC500 post, where we talk about 18 incredible NC500 hikes.
Table of Contents
Where Is Sango Sands?
Sango Sands is a beach in Durness, Scotland, located along the northern fringes of the Highlands. Sango Bay is around 71 miles west of Thurso and a 2 hour drive. Ullapool is around 68 miles south of Sango Bay and a 1.5 hours drive.
The village of Durness lies in the historic county of Sutherland and has some of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland right on its doorstep. These include Ceannnabeinne and Balnakeil Beaches, alongside Sango Sands, which is easily one of the most picturesque, especially from the Sango Bay Viewpoint.
How to Get to Sango Sands
The easiest way to get to Sango Sands Beach in Durness, Scotland, is with your own set of wheels. Of course, if you’re driving the NC500 then this is easy. Sango Bay is accessed very easily along the A838. This road passes through Durness and so it’s very easy to park up and visit the beach.
The main car park for Sango Bay is found on the beachfront of Durness. It’s a pretty decent size so hopefully, parking won’t be a bother. Although, summer months do see a huge amount of tourists, so arrive early or be prepared to wait. You can find the Google Maps location here. Parking is free.
Of course, if you don’t have access to your own set of wheels, then we recommend hiring something. When hiring a car, we always get the ball rolling with a search on RentalCars.com. Booking a car with Rentalcars.com is easy and stress-free, plus they offer an unbeatable free cancellation policy too.
We wouldn’t recommend public transport to get to Sango Sands Beach in Durness. This is because the buses are infrequent and often to this part of Scotland, only run directly on specific days of the week. The easiest and most reliable way to take public transport to Sango Bay is to travel directly from Inverness. It’s at least a three hour journey and of course, would cut out much of the NC500 route. To that end, take a car or camper.
Things to Do at Sango Sands Beach, Durness
It’s very easy to while away a day at Sango Sands Beach in Durness, especially if the weather is just right. The beach is open 24 hours a day and is free to visit, so you have the freedom to visit whenever.
Sango Sands Beach, Durness
Sango Sands Beach, or Sango Bay is a stunning golden sand beach in Durness. The turquoise waters are inviting for a swim or paddle, and the soft sand is perfect for a rest and a picnic. Surrounding Sango Bay are sea stacks and jagged cliff walls. They’re perfect for a scramble, make for wonderful photographs and create smaller coves and rock pools along the beach.
Sango Bay Viewpoint
To the western end of Sango Sands is the Sango Bay, or Sango Beach, Viewpoint. Here, you’ll find a pretty wooden boardwalk leading out to a platform built on the headland. The views are sweeping and are some of the best of Durness Beach. The boardwalk can become quite crowded, so there are plenty of other smaller protruding headlands that give off similar vibes. We even preferred some of these.
From the Sango Bay Viewpoint, visitors often like to look out across the beach to the sea and spot wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for whales, seals and dolphins as you admire the rugged views from this fantastic lookout.
Sango Sands Zip Line
Britain’s most northerly zipline is found east of Sango Sands Beach in Durness along the A838. The Golden Eagle Zipline shoots thrill-seekers across the stunning Ceannabeinne Beach, with excellent aerial views of all of the outstanding Durness Beaches.
You must visit the nearby Smoo Cave. Inside this massive cavern is a hidden waterfall. You can even walk from Sango Sands to Smoo Cave if you want to enjoy a nice coastal trail. Otherwise, you can find parking at Smoo Cave. This is one of the most popular stops along the NC500, and for good reason. You can check out all you need to know about visiting with our guide to Smoo Cave.
When Is the Best Time To Visit Sango Bay?
As Sango Bay sits right on the north coast of Scotland, you’ll be needing the summer months to really enjoy typical beach life here. The warmest months to visit are between June and August. During these months you’ll have a better chance of enjoying a swim in the bay or just lazing out on Sango Sands beach enjoying the warm sun.
Of course, summer also coincides with peak tourism, so expect Sango Sands to be much busier. Although, on a cloudy day, you’ll likely see fewer people, as we discovered on an overcast August day.
Winter is obviously much colder and with far fewer hours of daylight. So, a swim or a bathe will likely be out of the question. But, incredibly it’s not unusual to see some Aurora activity at Sango Bay. Indeed, given the relatively low light pollution at night and its position north, Sango Sands does see the northern lights. If you happen to visit in winter, we hope you’re lucky enough to see them. Sango Bay Viewpoint would make the perfect platform to set up the camera.
It’s always good to know what weather to expect when visiting Scotland and touring the NC500. You can check the MET weather forecast for Sango Sands and other Durness beaches here.
Other NC500 Beaches Close To Sango Sands
- Balnakeil Beach: a truly stunning beach of white sand and undulating dunes.
- Clachtoll Beach: one of our favourite beaches on the NC500.
- Achmelvich Beach: a very popular NC500 beach that is perfect for sunset and watersport lovers.
- Melvich Beach: another golden sand beach close to Thurso.
- Ceannabeinne Beach: where you’ll find the zipline!
Where To Stay At Sango Bay
Given Sango Sands’ breathtaking location, staying at this beach in Durness is a popular overnight stop along the NC500. Below, we’ll take a look at the best budget, mid-range and luxury accommodation options in the Sango Bay area, before looking at the super popular Sango Sands Oasis Campsite.
- Budget – Durness Youth Hostel: east of Sango Sands Beach and close to Smoo Cave is the Durness Youth Hostel. You can opt for a shared dorm room or a family room, and enjoy a continental breakfast and sea views from the garden.
- Mid-range – Wallaby’s: the beautiful Wallaby’s apartment in Durness has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and includes free private parking. A real home away from home vibe here.
- Luxury – Bae Seren: this fantastic holiday home is spacious, well-equipped and within excellent distance of all the Durness attractions. Bae Seren is dog-friendly and has a large garden for furry friends and their owners to enjoy.
Sango Sands Oasis Campsite
The premier camping spot at Sango Bay is the Sango Sands Oasis Campsite. Full campsite facilities are open from April to October, with limited use during the winter months. The stunning beachfront location of this Durness campsite means you can beat the crowds to Sango Bay Viewpoint, enjoy a quiet sunrise and sunset and truly unwind on one of Scotland’s most beautiful beaches.
Sango Sands Oasis Campsite also makes a fantastic base from which to explore the surrounding Sutherland area of the Scottish Highlands. But, given its location, Sango Sands Oasis does fill up quickly if you’re after an electric pitch, so you’ll need to book in advance. For those not needing electricity, no booking is required, as the campsite works on a first come first served basis. Caravans, campers and tents are all welcome.
Sango Bay Wild Camping
If you’re looking for a place to wild camp in Durness, then perhaps look to stay closer to Ceannabeinne Beach, east of Sango Sands. It’s a quieter Durness beach and enjoys an out-of-town location.
Travel Insurance For the NC500
Whether you’re from the UK or further afield, travel insurance is a necessary evil, especially if taking on a road trip like the NC500.
SafetyWing is an excellent budget-friendly travel insurance provider. Personally, Dan and I have used SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance many times to insure our trips. The Nomad Insurance is fantastic value for money with a smaller additional cost to add a partner. Unlike most other insurance companies, there’s an option to pay on a monthly basis, similar to having a prepaid phone plan. Better yet, there’s no lock-in contract. In addition, you can cancel at any time, which will take effect the month after.
For shorter trips, it’s also possible to use Nomad Insurance for trips lasting just days or just 2–3 weeks. Indeed, SafetyWing is cheaper than almost all other travel insurance policies and covers just as much and sometimes more.
SafetyWing is a modern travel insurance company that is certainly leading the way in terms of how travel insurance should work in the future.
Five Travel Essentials For Sango Sands Beach
These are our five travel essentials for visiting Sango Sands Beach in Durness. For a more extensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Alternatively, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a trip to Scotland and the North Coast 500, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight and were wonderful throughout our NC500 trip. They’ll serve you well when scrambling about the nooks and crannies of the rocky cliffs.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket, because you know, this is still Scotland after all.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for day trips, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm when the sun drops and you want to enjoy a sunset.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
You should also pack water, snacks and sunscreen. Oh, and don’t forget towels and swimmers if you’re feeling brave or the weather at Sango Sands is behaving.
- NC500 supplies: Durness is a small village, but you can stock up on food at the general store in town as well as refuel your vehicle at the petrol station. There’s also an excellent chocolate cafe in nearby Balnakeil.
- Wildlife: remember to pack the binoculars to enjoy all the wildlife spotting opportunities at Sango Bay Viewpoint. There’s plenty of birdlife to enjoy as well as keeping the fingers and toes crossed for whales and dolphins.
- For the golfers: Durness boasts one of the most beautifully located golf courses in the UK, on the beachfront. If you’re a keen golfer, you might want to add an additional day to spend at Sango Bay.
- Stress-free NC500: to have the hassle taken out of some of your NC500 trip planning, GetYourGuide offers some pretty spectacular tours around Durness, including surf lessons near Sango Sands at Balnakeil Beach.
Share this post with your NC500 road trip buddies!