The Road to the isles is paved with lochs, white sandy beaches, and idyllic seaside villages.
Perched on the rocky shore of Loch nan Ceall in Scotland’s West Highlands, the village of Arisaig is a key stopover for road-trippers and campers exploring the scenic Road to the Isles. Arisaig boasts big views for a town that takes just 20 minutes to walk across. Head down to Camusdarach Beach to relax on the white sands, go sea kayaking around secluded coves, and spot sea lions and sea birds along the coast. Campers have plenty of options in Arisaig, too, whether you want to check into a family-friendly caravan park or cosy up in a luxury glamping pod.
The best way to experience the Scottish Highlands is on a road trip, and the Road to the Isles is the road-less-travelled, running from Fort William through to the port town of Mallaig, just north of Arisaig. Stop off along the way at the villages of Glenfinnan and Lochailort, take a ride on the Jacobite Steam Train, go swimming or kayaking at the beaches of Camusdarach and Morar, then continue to the islands of Skye, Knoydart, and the Small Isles.
The four aptly named ‘Small Isles’ sit just off the shore of Arisaig—so close that you can watch the sunset over the islands of Rum and Eigg from the beach. To reach the isles, hop on a ferry from Arisaig or Mallaig and set out to explore the deserted beaches and rocky coastal trails. To stay the night, check into the campsite at Cleadale on Eigg Island, or bring your camping gear and enjoy wild camping along the coast.
Traditional fishing villages, medieval castles, and sweeping sea views dot the rugged coastline of the Isle of Skye, the largest and most visited of the Inner Hebrides islands. To reach the island by sea, take the ferry from Mallaig, then spend time visiting the lively capital of Portree, hiking in the Cuillin Range, or bird-watching along the coast. The island has at least half a dozen campsites with everything from simple tent sites to motorhome and caravan sites with electric hookups.
Arisaig can fill up with beachgoers over the summer holidays, but this is still the best time to enjoy the beaches, especially if you want to swim—Scottish waters are cold. To avoid the crowds and have the coastal scenery to yourself, plan your camping trip for spring or autumn, outside of the half-term holidays. Most Arisaig campsites open from April through October, but you’ll still find some glamping sites and Hipcamps open year-round.