Jump to content

Open Water Swimming


Recommended Posts

Hi there and welcome to Shetland.

I did a bit o spearfishing and snorkeling up there before moving south for uni. We're moving back to Shetland though very soon so I'll be out in the water a lot over the summer and I'll keep this thread updated on tides/currents as I'll certainly be in them.


West Voe beach at Sumburgh can have a fair rip running through if there's a swell along with Quendale Bay. As bays they are certainly mellow when it is calm and I see no issues swimming there apart from it may be a bit too shallow. Me

St Ninians seems to be relatively fine either side when it is calm.


Meal Beach in Burra is a safe bet when calm as it does slope off deeper quicker. The voe on the Brae side of Mavis Grind is very calm, deep and should be safeish too.


Looking at my charting software the tides don't get massively strong apart from between islands etc and rarely exceeds a few knots.


As ever common sense prevails and it is worth checking the times and local charts to see where tidal races are etc.


Sands of Sound beach in Lerwick is always a safe place to swim and is relatively calm unless there's a S/SE swell coming in.


All this is based on the assumption that you are confident and are wearing a wetsuit. Rubber is a must in Shetland if you wish to stay in the water for any length of time.


If you need any more information send me a pm or email at michael.balmain (at) gmail.com





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Ben, welcome to Shetland!


I also go snorkelling around the coast and do a bit of underwater filming.


Tides are very strong in most of the channels between the islands and around some of the headlands. Also, harbours and ferry terminals such be avoided due to boat traffic.


Great swimming off most of the beaches and in the bays when they are sheltered from the wind - Breiwick, Sands of Sound, Levenwick, St. Ninians Isle, Meal (Burra) and Banna Min. Visiblity is usually good and you often have seals for company. Would agree with Michael about wearing a wetsuit, essential if you hope to stay in for any length of time!


Vid from a swim at Breiwick


Cheers, Ryan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hiya Kev. I wear a 2 piece 5mm so 10mm on the torso with a 3mm vest underneath. 5mm is good for a few hours of fish hunting fun but I'll be upgrading to 7mm 2 piece open cell later in the year.


Banaminn as recommended by Ryan would be a fantastic swim. Crystal clear waters and relatively sheltered.


Thoroughly enjoyed your video Ryan. Very much looking forward to getting back in my home waters.


I should also add do please tell the coastguard you're heading out. Lets them know if you're out someone calls you in.

Our last dive down here resulted in North Berwick Coastguard, Dunbar Lifeboat (too rough for NB one) and Helicopter being scrambled as someone saw us 600m out on some rocks taking a break from the swell and currents.

We neglected to inform them we'd be heading out and understandably a concerned member of the public called it in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

Wetsuits are for pussies :)

Nothing beats the thrill of icy immersion, then waiting for your top layer of skin to go numb to kill the pain.

Seriously, don't let lack of a wetsuit put you off IF you just want a quick dip - it is bracing but bearable.


Question, has anyone swum at Quendale beach? It always looks enticing and deep, with big rolling waves. I'm wondering is it Ok for reasonably confident swimmers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...