Top 6 East Lothian Beaches for a Family Day Out

Posted by Linda Maclaughlan on 30 June 2015


Ice cream, sandcastles, salty sea air, fish and chips… Oh I do love to be beside the seaside. Especially when I want to make the most of the Scottish summer weather!

A trip to the beach can be the perfect family day out, and if you’re going to be in East Lothian, there are some gorgeous ones to choose from – in fact, most of them are award-winning and have their own special areas of interest.

To make it even easier, I’ve put together my top six beaches for families to visit in East Lothian – so you can pick your favourite:

1. Gullane Bents

With its golden sands and gradual slope that’s perfect for paddling, Gullane Bents is a classic for family outings to remember. Located within the Forth Estuary, the water stays quite calm, and you can easily take shelter by the sand dunes when it’s time for a picnic. I love a visit to Gullane, just a short walk away, with its charming coffee shops and eateries galore.

Find out more via Visit Scotland.

2. Belhaven Bay

If you love picnics and a relaxing walk across the sand, Belhaven Bay is a great choice. You’ll find this stunning, generously-sized beach located within the John Muir Country Park. It actually stretches from Belhaven all the way to the north of the River Tyne! I love Belhaven Bay mainly because of the lovely views across the Forth Estuary, but there are many who come here just to surf or take part in lessons at the conveniently located surf school. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even explore the cliff top walk by Dunbar, which takes you to a ruined castle.

Belhaven Bay has free parking, toilets and spaces available for motorhomes and high-sided vehicles. It’s also very close to Foxlake Adventures and East Links Family Park.

Find more information here.

3. Seacliff Beach

The £2 entry fee can be enough to put some families off, but I can guarantee the price is well worth it for such a beautiful, sheltered private beach that is very often deserted. A whole beach to yourself for just £2? Yes please! You’ll see stunning views of the Bass Rock, and even atmospheric Tantallon Castle (featured in one of my previous blogs) when the tide is out. It’s also ideal if you have very young children, as it’s a very short distance from the car park.

Oh, and toilet facilities are provided, but I’d recommend taking your own toilet roll – just in case! For more information, check out Seacliff Beach here.

4. North Berwick

North Berwick Beach

There are two main beaches to mention here in North Berwick; West Beach and Milsey Bay. The latter is very close to the Seabird Centre, and it’s particularly nice for families with young children as there is a safe water pool built into the rocks. Children are able to safely paddle and play there whilst parents look on. There’s even the opportunity to get an ice cream from the Luca’s van nearby. West Beach is a lovely, sandy beach that’s perfect for relaxing, sunbathing and building sandcastles.

For more information on North Berwick, check out this link.

5. Yellowcraig Beach

Just a quick 30-minute drive from Edinburgh, Yellowcraig beach is home to a beautiful stretch of sand. With rock pools galore and a great view of Fidra (mentioned in my ‘picnic with puffins’ blog post!) and the old lighthouse, there’s plenty to keep the whole family occupied. For slightly older children (over 3s) there’s an adventure play park with a range of fun equipment to try out.

It’s also important to note that Yellowcraig is a designated local nature reserve, as well as being a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Yellowcraig hosts free parking, and there are very well thought-out information boards that provide clear and detailed information about the various areas of interest, along with water quality, tide information, and the local wildlife.

More information on Yellowcraig can be found here.

6. Aberlady Bay

If you’re after something a bit different, you’re sure to find it at Aberlady Bay. I love it because of the old XT-craft submarine wrecks you can spot when the tide is right. Kids with imaginations will love it! Aberlady is also a local nature reserve, just teaming with wildlife (note that dogs aren’t permitted here), including lots of interesting birds and plants.

For more information on Aberlady Bay, check out the Undiscovered Scotland page.


There you have it – my top six East Lothian beaches for a family day out! Choose from beauties such as Gullane and Belhaven Bay, as well as spot of scientific interest like Yellowcraig. And don’t forget the amazing and historic Aberlady Bay! Whether you’re into nature, sunbathing, rockpools or old submarine wrecks, there’s something to suit just about everyone. All you need now is your bathing suit!

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