Things To Do On Islay

The list of things to do on Islay is extensive. Spectacular waterfalls, coastal walks, magnificent caves, wonderful beaches, boat trips and, of course, distilleries!

Killinallan – East side of Loch Gruinart

Waterfall on Doodle Burn

Waterfall on Doodle Burn

Drive along road past Craigens until you reach a metal gate; park on the grass at the side of the road. Walk down to the foreshore and collect mussels at low tide or continue north along the beach. You should see seals on the sand banks and the occasional splash of a sea trout in the pools at low tide. Follow the coast around to the north east to for a spectacular waterfall on the Doodilmore Burn, some fascinating arches and coastal walks and if you are feeling very energetic, some magnificent caves beyond the small mound of Bolsa.

South East Islay

Southern Distilleries – Drive south through Port Ellen and take signs to Ardbeg. You will pass three distilleries, Laphroaig, Lagavulin and finally Ardbeg. Keep on driving and you will pass little craggy coves. Good picnic areas. Continue along and visit Kildalton Church which has an early Celtic cross.

Claggan Bay – keep going beyond the turning for Kildalton Cross for a further 4 miles until you reach a wide open bay with the River lagan flowing into it. There is a track on the north side of the River that leads up Beinn Bheigier (pronounced Ben Vicar). It takes about an hour to get to the top of Islay’s highest hill and from here there are spectacular views to Ireland, the mainland and over the Southern Hebrides.

South West

As far west as you can get, visit Portnahaven where you can see the Atlantic rollers breaking over the rocks; on the way there you will pass through Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte, but come back on the back road past Lossit and Kilchiaran which loops back to Port Charlotte. Kilchoman Bay on the west coast is excellent for a bracing walk on a huge, remote and beautiful beach; you might then drop into Kilchoman Distillery on the way back for a cup of coffee and a snack (or the obvious)! Alternatively it is possible to take the back route past Saligo Bay and on up to Sanaig.


Machrie Golf Course – off road from Bridgend to Port Ellen – one of the world’s top 100 golf courses. Beautifully located overlooking the sea. Drive on to Port Ellen and visit the Singing Sands and Carraif Fada Lighthouse on the opposite side of Kilnaughton Bay to Port Ellen.

Mull of Oa – take Port Ellen road and then right towards Kinnabus which is the last place on the map. Good walk (approx 40 mins) to a monument dedicated to the 266 Americans who drowned when HMS Tuscania was torpedoed seven miles off the coast in 1918.

Boat Trips

  • Jura – daily ferry
  • Colonsay – Wednesday day trip
  • Gigha – from mainland en route/return from Islay
  • Iona *
  • Fingals Cave *
  • Corryvreckan *

* All possible by hiring a boat for the day; Sandy Campbell of Venture West is highly recommended.

Good Beaches

  • Sanaigmore
  • Saligo Bay
  • Machir Bay (Kilchoman)
  • Killinallan