Islay is a living, breathing sensory experience. No two visits are ever the same. With 10,000 years of history, 8 distilleries, 200 bird species and 160 miles of coastline Islay offers a unique experience to any visitor.
Islay boasts numerous sandy beaches.
The stunningly beautiful west coast beaches feature high dunes, pristine sand and Atlantic waves. Around Lochindaal and the southern coast there are many secluded and sheltered sandy beaches with calm water suitable for swimming.
Wildlife on Islay is spectacular, diverse and surprisingly easy to spot.
The island is home to over 200 bird species. In winter you may observe the population of 50,000 wild geese fly to roost at the RSPB reserve at Gruinnart. Walkers in remoter parts of Islay are likely to spot red deer, otters and grey seals.
“The whisky region of Islay is arguably the most important 200 or so square miles in the whisky world…”
Islay is home to 9 working distilleries. Islay whisky ranges from the rich peaty southern distilleries, such as Lagavulin, to the much lighter more delicate drams, such as Bruichladdich.Each distillery welcomes visitors to see the age old production process and sample their product on site.
Every May the Islay festival of Malt and Music celebrates Islay’s iconic whisky.
Whisky tastes better on Islay, whether it is on an Atlantic beach or by the fire in Saddlers Brae.
Food and Drink
Lobster, crab, scallops and langoustines are landed daily at various ports around Islay. These may be purchased direct or eaten in a host of Islay bars and restaurants.
British Airway’s Highlife magazine described Islay Oysters as “the best in the northern hemisphere”.
Islay’s farms produce top quality beef and lamb which is proudly served by the island restaurants.
The Community Garden at Bridgend offers fresh local fruit and vegetables.
Though Islay is best known for whisky, the brewery produces a range of beers sold in many island pubs.
Culture and History
People have lived on Islay for over 10,000 years, leaving a rich and fascinating history.
The early Christian followers of St Columba carved the Kildalton cross in the 9th century. Viking settlers left their legacy in Islay’s place names. Later, the Lord of The Isles ruled their sea kingdom from an island on Loch Finlaggan. This atmospheric site is accessible today and a visitor centre explains the importance of the Lordship in Scotland’s history.
Today there is a strong revival in Islay’s Gaelic language and culture which may be seen at ceilidhs and other local events.
Islay is home to the 18 hole Machrie links course. This exciting course has been described as created by God not man.
After a recent visit, “Golf Digest” magazine said, “Machrie is a magical links. Standing on the first tee, taking in the sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll fall in love. Beyond that, I really don’t have the words; you’ll have to come and experience it yourself…”
There are many festivals and activities throughout the year.
Details can be found at www.islayinfo.com