Ganavan Sands, Oban

Written by Chris Thornton | 27th of December 2022
Ganavan Sands, a beach with great views

Nestled on the outskirts of town, just north of Oban, surrounded by new housing developments and sports fields, Ganavan Sands may not seem like a typical West Highland beach at first glance. However, the views of the nearby islands of Lismore and Mull from the beach are truly breathtaking, especially at sunset on a clear day. Ganavan Sands is only a short drive or bus ride (or a longer walk) from Oban - the beach is surprisingly uncrowded (although it does have busy times in the summer months).

Also known as Ganavan Beach, it is a natural play area, playing host to many activities, including:

  • Paddleboarding

  • Kayaking

  • Dog-walking

  • Bouldering Orienteering

  • Kite-surfing

  • Diving

  • Wild swimming

  • Wing-foiling

In addition to the sandy shores, there is also a rough yet enjoyable coastal path that leads to Dunbeg and Dunstaffnage Castle, as well as an inland cycle path for those who prefer to explore the area by bike (Cycle Route 78).

Ganavan Sands Beach
Ganavan Beach with coastal apartments.

Ganavan Sands Car Park

Ganavan Sands car park is located a short distance from the beach and offers convenient parking for those visiting the area. The car park is well-maintained and offers ample space for cars, motorhomes and buses. There are also disabled parking spaces available.

Visitors to the beach can easily access the car park via the main road, which is well-signed and easy to find. Additionally, the car park is patrolled by attendants who ensure that all vehicles are parked safely and by the rules and regulations. Overall, the Ganavan Sands car park is a convenient and secure place to leave your vehicle while enjoying all the beach offers.

Ganavan Beach Car Park Times & Fees:

  • Monday-Friday: 09:00 - 18:00

  • Sunday: 13:00 - 18:00

There is free parking for the first two hours, and then it is charged as follows:

  • 15 Mins - £0.30

  • 30 Mins - £0.50

  • 45 Mins - £0.80

  • 1 Hour - £1.00, each additional hour, £1.00

A walk at Ganavan Sands is very relaxing.
Ganavan Beach with coastal apartments.

How to get to Ganavan Sands?

To get to Ganavan Sands from Oban, follow these directions:

  1. From Dunollie Road/A85, head west to the roundabout looking out to Oban Bay.

  2. Take the second exit to "Ganavan Beach".

  3. Follow "Corran Esplanade" and Ganavan Road for around 10 minutes until you reach Ganavan Sands car park.

  4. Alternatively, you can also reach the beach by taking the local bus service, which regularly runs from Oban to Ganavan Sands. The journey by bus should take about 10-15 minutes.

What3words: ///escalated.chins.bouncing
Google maps location

Ganavan Sands Park Run

The Ganavan Sands Park Run is a weekly 5k community run held every Saturday at 9.30 am. Although it's a "run", participants are welcome to walk, jog or spectate. The run starts at the Ganavan Sands car park and ends at Dunbeg Village, taking in fantastic views of Taynuilt Peak and Ben Cruachan.

Please see more on their Parkrun profile.

The National Cycle Route 78 passes through Ganavan Sands.

RAF Oban

During the 1930s, the waters of Ganavan Sands were used for flying boats (Saunders-Roe A.36 Lerwick), with the maintenance unit for the aircraft situated just northeast of the beach. A large fuel depot was built on the island of Kerrera.

The large apron slabs used within the car park are actually remnants from the RAF facility.

What can be seen near Ganavan Sands?

Dunstaffnage Castle

There is a great walk from Ganavan Sands to Dunstaffnage Castle, which is 2.5 miles on foot and should take around 50 minutes. This historic castle, built in 1240, sits atop a large rock overlooking the Firth of Lorn and is rich in Scottish history - Robert the Bruce captured the castle in 1308.

Dunstaffnage Castle
Dunstaffnage Castle, near Ganavan Sands.

Ganavan Maze

Just a short walk north of the beach, there is a modern maze made with small stones in concentric circles on the coast. It's a fun little area, but it makes for a great foreground for sunset photography.

Dunollie Castle, Museum and Grounds

Dunollie Museum, Castle & Grounds is a renowned hub of Scottish culture and heritage and the ancestral home of Clan MacDougall. Located just north of Oban (and southwest of Ganavan Sands), this site has been inhabited for at least 8,000 years and boasts stunning views of Oban Bay and the surrounding islands.

The medieval Castle Ruin sits atop a cliff and is surrounded by extensive grounds, including a 1745 House Museum that displays textiles, a Highland Social History collection, and Clan MacDougall archives. Visitors can explore the grounds from April to October, and special events are held throughout the year.

Ganavan Sands FAQs

Here are a few frequently asked questions about Ganavan Sands.

Can you camp at Ganavan Sands?

Campervans and motorhomes are allowed within the car park, but overnight stays are not permitted.

Are there toilets at Ganavan Sands?

Yes, spotless public toilets are available at the beach.

How much does Ganavan Sands car park cost?

The first two hours are free; then it costs 15 Mins - £0.30, 30 Mins - £0.50, 45 Mins - £0.80, 1 Hour - £1.00, and each additional hour, £1.00.

Conclusion

If you want to see some stunning scenery or get active and explore the surrounding area, Ganavan Sands is an excellent base to park for a few hours and see the area north of Oban on foot.

Ganavan Sands location map

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