Elie has such a special place in my heart. Nestled in the crook of Fife on Scotland’s East coast, my mum says there is often a ‘blue hole’ above Elie and I think she might be right. We have holidayed here since I was a baby and Elie has lost none her charm over all these years… in fact I would venture to say she has become even prettier.
If you are looking for luxury hotels, a plethora of eateries and a string of bars to choose from, this is not the place for you. On the other hand, if you happen to be in the market for a quaint seaside village with a handful of extra special spots, quiet stretches of golden sands and the kind of vibe that breathes the life right back into your body then Elie will tick all your boxes.
We enjoyed a four night break and, upon waking on the second morning, rebooked for later this summer. Elie tends to have that effect – I am truly filled with joy just thinking about being there. Day trips, mini breaks, longer holidays – I recommend this place for them all.
Scroll down to discover my tips for where to stay, where to eat and what to do…
There is one hotel and it has six rooms. Well, really it is a restaurant with rooms – The Ship Inn. They look lovely. They get booked up fast.
Holiday rentals are the thing to do in Elie. For very special occasions Elie Select is worth checking out (we celebrated the husband’s fortieth birthday in one of their incredible houses) but usually we rent via Airbnb. I have a saved list of places fitting all my criteria (dog friendly, enclosed garden, etc.) and generally prefer somewhere a stone’s throw from the centre on the Earlsferry Beach side. Elie and Earlsferry just merge into one another and, truth be told, it is a relatively small area so it is highly likely anywhere you stay will be within walking distance of the main attractions. Keep scrolling down and you will find some key places to plot into Google Maps to check the distance from any potential lets…
Of course, you need not stay at all. Pre children we spent many a lazy Saturday here, arriving in time for a picnic lunch and pootling home to Glasgow after a nice dinner.
Whilst you cannot consider yourself spoilt for choice in Elie, you can consider yourself spoilt.
A SLICE OF IBIZAN HEAVEN – The Harbour Cafe
The Harbour Cafe is a small slice of Ibiza on the East coast of Scotland. The views across Ruby Bay were so reminiscent of Los Enamorados for me and the laidback vibe could not be more perfect. This place is rustic yet luxe. The shack with panoramic windows to the sea (which are removed on nice days) and outdoor seating is not entirely dissimilar to our DIY patio at home but the food, oh the food… beautiful simplicity. Barbecued langoustines were a highlight for me but, truly, NOTHING can trump that setting.
FINE DINING – The Ship Inn
The Ship Inn is a longstanding destination in the village and, whilst the dishes are excellent, the prices are not for the frugal holidaymaker. The outdoor menu is a little easier on the wallet and the views are, yet again, outstanding. Secure a spot in the sea garden for a sundowner or head upstairs and ask for a table by the window (better yet, the patio doors).
QUICK AND EASY – The Pavillion
The Pavilion is located just a few steps from Earlsferry Beach at the golf club and offers a reasonable and family friendly option. A great pitstop for a coffee and homemade cake and it is worth noting that they also do takeout (the fish and chips were excellent).
PICNIC SUPPLIES – Elie Deli
The Elie Deli is another that has been around for as long as I can remember – picnic supplies a plenty as well as fresh meat for your barbecue and daily croissants for your breakfast.
FOR BEACH SNACKS – Elie Beach Cafe
Calling home a bright blue, vintage truck, the Elie Beach Cafe is an elusive beauty right by the breakwater on Earlsferry Beach. In my experience she mostly teases with her good looks but rarely opens. That being said, on the odd occasion a coffee and crepe has been secured, it has been good. Should you happen to know the opening hours please do share the insider knowledge…
FOR A CHIPPY – Murray’s Chippy
It is seasonal but you can keep an eye on Murray’s Facebook page (linked above) for his summer calendar and, if you happen to be lucky, join the queue on the main street and take your box of the best fish and chips (in fact, make mine a scampi) straight down to the South Beach for a sunset picnic.
Images above of The Harbour Cafe
Image above of The Pavillion
Images above of The Ship Inn
GO TO THE BEACH
For me, the beach is the star attraction. That ‘blue hole’ my mum talks about? This is its home. Even when the tide is fully in, Earlsferry beach is wide enough to enjoy. The modest, grass feathered dunes sway in the breeze, the painted beach huts are cute as can be, the water is a bracing and beautiful shade of turquoise blue and if you happen to secure a spot to nestle against the wall, you will find yourself entirely sheltered from the sea breeze – fifteen degrees on this beach feels like twenty – what an absolute treat.
At low tide the cove empties entirely allowing Earlsferry and Elie Beach to become one. Elie Beach herself is small but perfectly formed with views of the boats in the harbour and only steps away from the sea bar at The Ship. No dogs allowed between May and September on this tiny slice of paradise but all the sands surrounding are pup friendly.
Simply meandering through the picturesque village, perhaps taking in the lighthouse on an enthusiastic day, should be enough to satisfy your restless legs. If not, however, the stunning Fife Coastal Route should keep you busy and, not for the faint of heart, there is the Elie Chain Walk – a curious series of eight chains hanging from the coastal cliffs to tackle (a guide is recommended).
The Watersports Centre in the harbour can fulfil pretty much all of your water based whims from paddle boarding to banana boats and the sheltered bay is the perfect spot to try them out.
GOLF & TENNIS
Where better to suffer a golf course than by the sea? I jest… Elie Sports Club is home to a beautiful eighteen hole course as well as a very relaxed (dog friendly) nine holes. The six tennis courts are probably more up my street to be honest and can be booked twenty-four hours in advance in the pro shop.
WATCH THE CRICKET (YES, REALLY)
The only pub in Britain to have a cricket team with a pitch on the beach. To me, this just epitomises Elie. In years gone by spectators crammed into every inch of the sea bar – each bench, table and wall filled with weather beaten friends and families and a barbecue firing up lunch throughout the match and beyond. Perhaps a slightly different atmosphere now but fixtures are back and you can check the schedule here.
Undeniably there are a handful of picture perfect villages on the Fife coast – Crail, Anstruther and Pittenweem all look equally gorgeous and quaint with their harbours and pastel houses by the water but I never can seem to drag myself away from Elie… maybe next time.
Elie is utterly charming, with one foot firmly rooted in the past and the other straddling the realm of exquisite dining. She is a place to wander, ice cream in hand, toes in the sand, sea breeze filling your lungs. She is restorative and invigorating both at once; my very favourite place for a break in Scotland…
This post contains affiliate links and gifts