The island of Islay (pronounced Isla) lies off the west of the Kintyre Coast and to the immediate south of Jura. This beautiful island is world famous for its malt whisky and few would visit the island without noticing this fascinating business. There are two ferry terminals, one at Port Askaig in the north East and one at Port Ellen in the south east. Both are Caledonian Macbrayne terminals taking passengers to and from Kennacraig just south of Tarbert. The islands main communities are at Bowmore, the most central of them, Port Ellen in the south, Port Charlotte and Portnahaven in the west. There are smaller communities at Port Askaig and Keills and also Bridgend whilst most every other place name on the Island are just a few houses if that. Islay also has its fair share of ancient monuments, interesting ruins and other historic and architectural features which are worth seeing.
The Island has in total 8 distilleries which are Ardbeg, , Lagavulin and Laphroig which are in the south of the island near to Port Ellen and are in beautiful settings. They also produce the peatiest whisky particularly the Laphroig. The distilleries of, Bowmore and, Bruichladdich are in the centre of the island on the shores of Loch Indaal and north of the island has the Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila distilleries.. They generally have a more delicate flavour. The history of the buildings and equipment alone makes a distillery worth a visit.
The largest town is Bowmore and as you would expect you can find most services and facilities such as garage, information centre, sports centre, hotels, restaurants, cafes, library and more but on an island scale of course. Bowmore also has a round church which just has to be seen, perhaps built in that shape as in the 1700s when it was built it was thought that the devil could hide in dark corners.
Port Ellen in the south, the second largest town, has many facilities as well and between these to towns is the airport. Port Ellen is perhaps the more picturesque of the two and is popular with yachts and other pleasure craft. South of Port Ellen lies the massive of the Oa Peninsula. The peninsula is awesome with huge cliffs and the occasional sandy inlet. It also has many pre clearances ruins and also some stone-age stones worth seeing. There is also a very large memorial to over 400 American servicemen whjo perished in the sea when the SS Tuscania was sunk by a U boat in 1918.
The RSPB also have a large piece of the Oa with many rare birds such as the Chough to be seen. This is an area of special protection and there is generally something interesting to see at any time of the year. Enthusiasts usually base themselves in Port Ellen and travel to the Oa by car. See our accommodation pages for booking rooms.