A Guide To Wild Swimming In The Outer Hebrides

‘Wild swimming’ is taking a dip in any natural body of water such as the ocean, a lake, river or waterfall, and for the most part, usually the water is quite cold. These are the places our almost all people went swimming before pools came along and in current times it’s a great way to connect with nature. Whether you are all or nothing and dive straight in or more of a tip-toe kind of person, wild swimming is for everyone and will make you feel wonderful.

There are so many benefits to cold water therapy, from boosting your immune system to flooding your body with feel good endorphins, you should definitely be adding a dip in the ocean to your adventure.

Time Of Year / Water Temperature

I’m not going to pretend that the sea here is anything but freezing. For the majority of the year, it’s really really cold. But if you are a seasoned sea swimmer, it’s nothing you can’t handle. I’ve been swimming throughout the year, and the warmest months are August, September and October – still cold, but slightly warmer than winter. If you haven’t done any sea swimming or cold water therapy before, take it slowly. The cold water can be very overwhelming and it takes about 5-10 minutes of being in the water before it becomes bearable.

My favourite spot, Bosta Beach

Safety

Always always go with someone. Either a fellow swimmer who is going to join you in the water or as a watcher from the shore, this is the best way to keep safe. If you are travelling solo, look for the Hebridean sea swimming club and join one of their sessions for a safe experience.

Some of the beaches of the Hebrides have strong currents and although may look inviting, you should not swim at. Dail Mor and Dail Beag has some pretty strong undercurrents and would not be a good choice to swim. My rule of thumb would be if it’s popular surf spot, then it isn’t suitable for sea swimmers.

The water is going to be very cold, so wear a wetsuit, boots and a hat to keep your body temperature up. If you aren’t wearing a wetsuit, keep your ocean dip to 15 minutes so you don’t loose too much heat. Have a dry towel and warm clothes to bundle up in afterwards, and if it’s a little exposed on the beach, get back to your vehicle and warm up.

Locations

Shawbost Beach

A popular spot with the locals, this little beach is a great spot for an ocean dip. There is parking at either end of the beach and you can stay overnight here as well. Check the weather conditions for this beach as it can sometime be a little choppy on a windy day from the Atlantic Ocean, remember to always have a swimming buddy!

The Braigh, Point

This is one of the sea swimming clubs favourite spots for swimming and for good reason. The shallow sandy bottom makes it a super easy and safe place to swim and and there is almost always someone walking along this beach so great for a first time swimmer.

Bosta Beach

My favourite spot for wild swimming is Bosta beach. This sheltered cove is the perfect place with white sand and (usually) calm waters. Be sure to swim out to the tide and time bell and give it a ring if you can! This is also a great place to watch the sunset from, so climb up one of the small hills to the right of the beach and relax while watching the sunset.

Let me know some of your favourite spots for wild swimming!

Taking A Scenic Flight Over The Whitsunday Islands | Queensland, Australia

If there is one thing you must do while in Airlie Beach, it is this. Taking a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands was one of my top three experiences of my whole year in Australia. Although a little pricey, the incredible views were just breath-taking.

I had completed my PADI Open Water Cousre in Cairns which took us on a three day liveaboard visiting some beautiful reefs and exploring some of the uderwater life. And it was great to see the individual animals, corals and species up close. But I think to understand the sheer size of the reef, seeing it from above it so great.

You can find lots of companies along the main road in Airlie Beach to fly with, so ask around and get a feel for what you’ll get. I went with GSL Aviation on their Reef & Islands tour which lasts 60 minutes and included pick up/drop off from your hotel.

Right from take off, there is a full commentary from the pilot talking all about the reef system, islands and some history of the area which gave me an insight into the history of the islands. It was perfect weather and the turquoise waters were alive with colour.

We had views of Conway National Park, Airlie Beach, and the Whitsunday Islands where I had spent the last three days sailing around. We had incredible views of Hill Inlet and the famous Whitehaven Beach which was exactly how you see it on postcards. Past the Whitsunday Islands, you reach the extensive reef systems and you see the crystal clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef. We glided above the iconic heart reef where we circled around so each side of passengers could get a photo.

So if there is one activity to splash out on while in the Whitsundays, this would be it. Seeing the extensive reef system from the sky was magical and so worth the money. Have you ever been to the Whitsundays? Let me know in the comments below!

Making A Positive Impact : The Great Barrier Reef

This series is about practical ways travelers can help make a positive impact on the areas they visit.

Hi my beautiful,

Visiting the Great Barrier Reef was an incredible experience I will never forget. The whole experience brought me so much joy, exploring such a special corner of our planet has really been a dream of mine for so many years. And the sadness I feel when I hear of its degradation really breaks my heart. Enjoying the reef should be a joy experienced for generations to come. So if you are planning to visit this natural wonder of our world, here are a few tips to make sure your visit safeguards its beauty for many more years.


Choose An Accredited Company

There are a few key signs to look for if you want to choose an eco-friendly company. Ecotourism Australia and EarthCheck both provide two levels of certification in which tour operators can commit to using sustainable practices and high quality tourism experiences. These companies are actively protecting the environment by adhering to safe practices and maintaining the high standard of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). You can see the list of approved operators on the GBRMPA website.


Follow The Responsible Reef Practices

There are some basic rules to follow when in the water, whether you are snorkelling or scuba diving, these few guideline will save not only the reef from harm but also yourself. Here are just a few points to remember while on the reef.

  • Practice good scuba diving – have good buoyancy, be aware of your equipment and move slowly
  • Avoid holding or touching any part of the reef, including corals and animals
  • Observe animals like whales or turtles from a safe distance
  • Enhance the quality of your dive experience by learning about the environment you’ll visit
  • Don’t take anything from the reef including dead coral or shells

See the full list of responsible reef practices at GBRMPA.


Contribute To Citizen Science

As the reef is so large, it is quite a challenge for scientists to collect frequent information across the entire length of the reef, and that is where citizen science (and you!) come in. ‘Eye On The Reef’ is a way for every visitor to contribute towards the long-term protection of the Great Barrier Reef by recording animals sightings, reef health data and other valuable information. However you are enjoying the reef, you can join in with citizen science by downloading the Eye On The Reef app and start contributing immediately to data collection. You can submit locations of animal sightings, photos of what you have encountered like marine pollution or coral spawning and it can also help you to identify the wildlife you come across.


Fight For The Planet

The biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef is climate change caused by humans. And this will only change with action. So start right now to help give the Great Barrier Reef a fighting chance of survival. So here are just a few things to do today for a better future.

  • Make changes to your lifestyle to reduce your carbon footprint
  • Commit to only taking one long haul flight per year
  • Change your diet to include more local produce and less animal products
  • Have your say at local council meetings and elections
  • Vote with your money by researching companies sustainability pledges.

I hope when you visit, you will take the time to explore the reef with the care it deserves and let it inspire you to help change its future.

All my love x