Located 9 miles south of Inverness, you’ll find the gorgeous Dores beach – a great and easy day trip from the capital of the Highlands. Dores beach is not only the closest place to see Loch Ness from Inverness but it’s also quite possibly the best place to spot Nessie, with its undisturbed view right down the water. As one of the best beaches on the loch, it allows a great vista of the world famous expanse of water, along with the stunning surrounding hills as a perfect backdrop. Steve Feltham, Dores’ very own resident “Nessie Hunter”, certainly thinks so.
Where is Dores Beach
Dores Beach is located in the small village of Dores, an easy 20 minute drive from Inverness, on what is referred to as the ‘south’ side of Loch Ness. The map below shows you its exact location:
The beach is quite vast stretching along most of the north end of Loch Ness. There are also lovely pine woods with marked trails at the far end, if you are looking for a bit of adventure. Most of the beach is made up of fine stones that have been broken down through many years of wave action, so there is no danger of getting sand in your sandwiches. This is in fact a great place for a picnic on a warm summer’s day, or just the delight of watching the sun go down with friends. It’s also a great option if you’re looking for free things to do near Inverness.
Activities at Dores Beach
Dores beach is a very popular place for water sports, with areas close to the shore being shallow and often calm. It’s not uncommon to see wild swimmers enjoying the cool fresh waters close to the beach, especially as you can park nearby.
SUP, Canoeing & Wild Swimming at Dores Beach
Probably the most popular way to enjoy this part of the loch is with an SUP, canoe or kayak. If you would like to hire a kayak on Loch Ness then we recommend In Your Element. When we visited over the summer we met a group of canoeists that had travelled up from Fort William using the Caledonian Canal, stopping here for the night, on their way to Inverness. With the grassy wooded area just next to the beach, wild camping on Dores beach makes a lot of sense. There is a tap for drinking water and toilet facilities next to the Dores Inn. Please be aware that BBQs are not permitted on the beach due to the close proximity of flammable gorse.
Walks at Dores Beach
Of course the most common activity on the beach is walking. You can either walk along the shore or the little track behind that runs parallel where there is a small play park. If you fancy a little more of a challenge then try the Torr Point walk. The 8 km route is circular and runs along the shore to Aldourie Pier, Torr Point and then back to the village.
Events at Dores Beach
Loch Ness 24
If you are looking for a more extreme activity, then you may wish to consider the crazy Loch Ness 24! The event takes place every year in August with runners testing how far they can run in 24 hours along woodland trails next to Dores beach. Each lap is 7km… how many can you run?
Community Bonfire night (5th November)
Once a year, Dores beach becomes an epic backdrop for Bonfire night. A huge bonfire is constructed right on the beach near to the Dores Inn, as night falls locals gather around to watch the flames leap into the night sky. A stall selling hot drinks and bacon rolls is run by the community council, to keep everyone warm on a cold night.
Places to eat at Dores Beach
The Dores Inn
This ancient white washed coaching Inn really turns Dores into a gourmet destination with its fantastic outdoor space, great beer and tasty pub grub. On a warm summer’s day there is no better place to be, than sipping on a craft beer at one of the outdoor tables, taking in every inch of that amazing Loch Ness view.
During peak season a large marquee is erected, together with an outdoor bar, for that almost continental feeling. So even if the weather takes a turn for the worst, you can still be outside.
When it comes to food, you will be spoiled. Expect to see proper butchers haggis, locally caught fish and chips and Highland steak on the menu. We loved the gigantic monster burger which didn’t fail to disappoint on quality or size. There are vegan and vegetarian foods options too. For the latest menu and opening hours click here.
Parked up next to the Nessie Hunter van is an old Mercedes van called the Spot that offers drinks, snacks and Loch Ness ice cream at reasonable prices. The delicious coffee beans are roasted a mile away by Inverness Roasting Company. Cakes and cookies come from the Highland Cake Fairy.
Ness Coffee and Gifts
Just opposite the Dores Inn you will find a gorgeous looking converted vintage caravan called Ness coffee, covered in flowers. Sheila serves some great refreshments. Immediately next to the van is a wooden cabin called Ness Gifts, this cool boutique sells Scottish gifts and crafts. There is everything from Anta pottery to jams and scented candles.
Meet a real life Nessie Hunter
Dores beach is home to the world’s most famous monster hunter, Steve Feltham. Since arriving here back in 1991, Steve has appeared in numerous documentaries about the Loch Ness monster. Most recently he was interviewed by Jonathan Ross as part of the Myths and Legends series on channel 4. We also highly recommend listening to this fascinating podcast episode on “We can be weirdos” – you might be surprised to discover some of Steve’s findings…
Steve has a caravan on Dores beach from which sells models of the Loch Ness from and he is only too happy to have a chat about his sightings over the years. This is his full time occupation, so there is no one better qualified to be declared an expert on everything Nessie. The obsession for Steve started in 1971 when on a family holiday in the Highlands, he met the people who ran the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau, he fell in love with the idea of monster hunting and hasn’t looked back since.
If you would like to find out more about Steve’s extraordinary story then take a look at his website.
How to get to Dores beach
Getting to Dores Beach By car
If you are travelling to Dores by car, then it’s an easy 20 minute drive from the centre. The B862 runs parallel to the East bank of the River Ness, passing Bellfield Park and Ness Islands, until it turns into Dores Road. At the Tesco roundabout you go straight ahead and then you leave the city behind, flowing into undulating open countryside. Just before Dores there is a free car park on the left next to Dores Parish church.
Getting to Dores Beach by public transport
If you don’t have access to a car, then the bus is the best cost-effective option, as opposed to a taxi. The bus leaves from Castle Steps in the centre of Inverness and takes around 40 minutes. Look out for bus number 302 with a destination of Foyers, get off at the Dores Inn stop, it’s right next to the beach. The bus is operated by the Highland Council, the latest timetable is available here.
Parking at Dores Beach
There are a couple of options for parking in Dores. Firstly there is a purpose built free car park next to the church, just on the outskirts of Dores, it’s a short walk to the beach from here. Or if you are visiting Dores Inn, there is a customer car park right next to the beach with plenty of space. Although the surface of the car park is a bit rough with plenty of potholes, so be careful. There is also a free car park *next* to the Dores Inn car park although it fills up very quickly on sunny days.
If you’re visited Inverness and the surrounding area, we recommend you check out the following posts:
- Top Things to do in Inverness – the Ultimate Guide!
- 20 Free Things to Do in Inverness & Beyond
- 35 Best Day Trips from Inverness
- 20+ Best Things to do around Loch Ness
- Top Guide to Visiting the Black Isle
- Epic Guide to the NC500 East Coast