The Sunday Post (Newcastle)

Looking for sun, sea and sport? Take the plunge in the ‘Hawaii of the North’

- By Morag Lindsay

You don’t get called the “Hawaii of the North” without some seriously appealing attributes. Tiree is blessed with some of the highest levels of sunshine in the UK, a mild Gulf Stream climate, clear, turquoise waters and sparkling, white sands.

Throw in impressive waves rolling off the Atlantic, plus welcoming locals and a laidback vibe, and it’s easy to see why this most westerly of the Inner Hebridean islands has become Scotland’s coolest little surfing capital.

While other surfing locations can be overcrowde­d or so remote and unpredicta­ble they are best left to the purists, Tiree provides a near-perfect package for beginners and experience­d surfers alike.

The island is relatively small and flat, boasting 74 kilometres (46 miles) of coastline fringed with stunning bays and beaches that catch the North Atlantic swell from all directions.

It means it’s always a good day for surfing somewhere.

This is what makes Tiree so appealing, says Iona Larg, who runs the Blackhouse Watersport­s surf school with her husband Marti and kids Ben, 18, Robyn, 16, and Lily, 13.

“We get a lot of swell here, and there are so many lovely beaches, all pointing different ways,” says Iona. “If the conditions aren’t right at Balevullin, where we have our beach hut, we can drive to somewhere else in minutes.”

Marti ran the first kite surfing school on Tiree and Iona, whose family are from the island, got more and more into surfing as the couple’s own children took to the waves.

Ben learned to surf at the same time as he learned to walk. He was Scotland’s Under-18 champion by the age of 12 and is one of the youngest big wave surfers in the world. Bafta-winning director Martyn Robertson showcased his talents in a film called Ride The Wave, released in cinemas last year.

Robyn is also enjoying competitio­n success.

“We’re really lucky on Tiree,” she says. “There’s only a finite number of people who can get here on the ferry, so you get all this space to yourself, and that makes it a great place to learn.

“It’s just the most peaceful place to come for a holiday.”

Surfing isn’t the only watersport in town on Tiree. Wild Diamond Watersport­s offers tuition in windsurfin­g, kitesurfin­g, surfing and stand-up paddleboar­ding, as well as hiring out kayaks and sand yachts.

Tiree-born Willy MacLean, who runs the business with his wife, Kirsty, took up windsurfin­g at the age of 11 or 12 and never looked back. Between them, he and Kirsty have a quarter of a century of teaching experience in watersport­s.

Horseshoe-shaped Gott Bay is where most kitesurfin­g tuition take place, while the Atlantic-facing westcoast beaches are favoured for surfing and stand-up paddleboar­ding.

Inland Loch Bhasapol, near their base at Cornaig, has flat, shallow waters and a lot of wind, making it perfect for beginners learning to windsurf.

Willy’s advice is to “bring clothes for four seasons, and an open mind”.

He added: “That’s the great thing about Tiree, though. There’s an activity and a place for every weather.”

 ?? ?? The Atlantic waters offer ideal surfing in Tiree.
The Atlantic waters offer ideal surfing in Tiree.

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