Island Hopping in Scotland!

Puffin Watch on Isle of Staffa

 For a country as small as Scotland, it is amazing how many islands it has. If you want to explore them all, it would probably take weeks. So for our limited itinerary, we did some research, and picked the ones that were most unique. ( This blog only covers the islands, to plan your complete Scotland travel,please read the post on our complete road trip Itinerary.)
  We list the five most picturesque Islands in Scotland below that can be easily covered in a 4 day trip. We based ourselves in Oban and covered most of these islands as day trips. For Mull, Iona and Staffa we booked Three Island Early Bird Tour from Staffa Tours.

Staffa

  For a tiny uninhabited island, Staffa sure has lots of tricks up its sleeve. It is said that Jock Elliott Jr. of New York gifted it to his wife on her 60th birthday. However, she refused to accept the island because it was remote and ghostly. And hence the island was donated to National Trust for Scotland (More for us, right?).
 The name Staffa is derived from Old Norse language and means pillar, after the unique landscape of the island, hexagonal basalt lava rock columns arranged in orderly fashion. It is hard to believe that such uniformly patterned rock formations could be naturally occuring.
 One of the most popular feature on this island is the Fingal’s cave, a sea cave known for its natural acoustics. The cave is enormous, with a naturally arched roof. This helps create melodious sounds as waves hit the cave walls, making it a perfect spot for meditation.
Apart from its unique landscape, the Staffa island is also home to uber friendly colonies of puffins. Puffins are endangered species known for their bright colored beaks. Although touching them is not advisable (even though they will let you) as they are endangered, having a lunch date with them is pure joy!

Isle of Staffa

Iona

This tiny inhabited island is famous for all the right reasons among main-landers (Oban) and foreigners alike. While the historical Iona Abbey is a must stop for religious folks and architecture lovers, its graveyard is said to be resting place for 38 Scottish, Irish and Norwegian kings. This island is also home to some turquoise water beaches which though located nearby, differ dramatically from each other. Columbus bay is pebbled beach featuring unearthly views, a solace for nap enthusiast and greasy area for sunbathing. Martin’s is a white sand beach offering stunning views of Mull. And Traigh Bhan Nam Monach (White Strand of the Monks) is stunning white sand beach with perfect spots for day picnic and star gazing.

Way to the Columbus Beach on Iona

Mull

Isle of Mull is the second largest island of Inner Hebrides and forth in Scotland. It is home to some of the most picturesque hamlets. When here do sample the local fish and freshly caught shell-fish at the Tobermory harbour on the west-coast, we highly recommend it. The inner land of Mull is home to several tiny waterfalls to feast your eyes upon. The coast line of Mull also offers seal and dolphin spotting opportunities based on the season.

Catching Boat on Isle of Mull

Eilean Donan

 Eilean Donan gets its name after the iconic castle located on this island. This is a tidal basin island located at the meeting point of three Loches(lakes), and is connected to the mainland by a beautiful arched stone bridge. The perfect reflection of Eilean Donan Castle on the still waters of the lake make it the most romantic and most photographed castle in all the British Isles. For the very same reason, the castle was featured in various movies including in the title song of a famous Bollywood movie “Kuch Kuch Hota hai”. The castle also has a long history of battles and sieges by various groups thanks to its strategic location to defend highlands. The castle was finally brought to its knees by Jacobite rising and then reconstructed later in 1920s by history buffs. Read more about this castle on our blog ‘10 day itinerary of scotland’.
P.S. Photography is strictly forbidden inside the castle (but there is no limit outside!)

 

Eilean Donan Castle

Skye

Last but hardly the least is the Isle of Skye, a beautiful humongous mountainous Island that stands in Inner Hebrides surrounded by crystal clear blue waters. Step out from your comfort zone, pick up your hiking boots and camping gear to truly experience the beauty of this untamed beast. The best way to explore the island is by car but be prepared to drive on narrow, single lane roads. I would highly recommend hiking the Fairy Pools and Old Man of Storr. Other must do include visiting the famous lighthouse of Neist point, romantic picnic on basin of Loch Ainort and stroll alongside colorful houses of Portree. Island of Skye has a lot to explore, we plan to add a detailed guide on the the adventures offered here.

IMPORTANT TIPS

  1. Landing on Staffa Island is weather dependent as the shore gets wild in storms. So check weather before you plan your tour.
  2. Always pack rain jacket because unexpected showers are very common in Scotland.
  3. Most Islands are habitable and have café or restaurants with exception of Staffa.
  4. Most Islands can be covered in a day tour with exception of Isle of Skye.
Fairy Pools

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