Islay, in the Southern Hebrides, is certainly one of the largest of the Scottish islands, and is only a short ferry trip from Jura, to its East. It has around 130 miles of spectacular coastline.
What’s Islay Like?
For travellers keen to watch wildlife and take in its gorgeous scenery, Islay is a wonderful location with deep lochs, lots of coastal inlets, blue sea bays, and even dolphins in Loch Indall. Even the port and fishing villages are picturesque, as are the views over to neighbouring islands, for example, the view towards the Paps of Jura. Most of the population of the island lives in the villages of Port Ellen and Bowmore.
Features of Islay
Islay’s worldwide fame owes a lot to its natural beauty but also to its eight whisky distilleries (and a brewery of hand crafted real ale). The distilleries and their visitor centres are a major attraction for visitors as there is quite a history of whisky production on the island – there has been legal recorded distilling here as far back as 1779. Music and whisky on the island are celebrated in the annual Islay Festival of Music and Malt.
Natural features are obviously a major pull for visitors – birdwatchers love the wild geese (white-fronted and barnacle amongst many others) who stay in Islay over Winter, and also long for spottings of the chough and corncrake. Islay is popular with walkers, golfers, fishing enthusiasts, horse riders and sea swimmers (in the safer sheltered bays), and there are deer in the wooded areas. From the coast you might even spot sea creatures such as dolphin, minke whale and seals which breed to the North West of Islay on Nave island. Other features include Kilarrow Round Church in Bowmore, and Kildalton High Cross (made from epidiorite dated around 800AD and probably the last unbroken cross of its type in the country). But a more contemporary structure, the American Monument on the headland at the Mull of Oa, is a military commemoration of the sinking of two First World War ships off this coast (one torpedoed, the other wrecked in a collision).
How to get to Islay
Most travellers arrive on Islay via ferry from Kennacraig – a two hour trip. Ferries to other Scottish islands are also regularly scheduled, making Islay a great location for an island-hopping tour. Islay’s airport at Glenegedale began its life as an RAF airfield in the Second World War but now offers regular scheduled flights to and from Colonsay, Glasgow and Oban, for those travellers who prefer to fly. Islay also has its own bus service.
Where to stay on Islay
Our delightful properties on Islay and neighbouring islands include self-catering holiday cottages, hotels and bed and breakfasts, in picturesque, traditional locations. Whether you choose to stay in a coastal property or further inland, Islay is a beautiful place for a relaxing break away from it all.