Islay the Island


Islay65 is located in the heart of Port Ellen village, about 30 meters from the sea and central to all amenities. It is excellently located as a base to explore Islay and, a bit like everywhere on Islay, not that far from anywhere else.


is rich in history. At one time the seat of the 'Lords of the Isles' at Finlaggan, it is called the 'Queen of the Hebrides' and is much greener than the other islands, though still very wild in places.
It's visible history however far predates the Lords of the Isles of the 12th century and the Viking invaders of the 8th century and there are standing stones throughout the island, several within easy walking distance of Islay65, dating back to the bronze age, about 2500BC.
It was settled by the followers of the Irish Saint Columba in the 6th century and there are many relics of their presence and influence throughout the island, including the chapel at Kildalton, near Islay65, and its world renowned Celtic Cross, a full sized replica of which sits in the Art Galleries at Kelvingrove in Glasgow.
Visitors interested in Islay's history should visit the 'Museum of Islay Life' in Port Charlotte.
A Working Island
Islay is now home to 10 working distilleries, Port Ellen, Laphroaig, Lagavullin, Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Kilchoman, Ardnahoe, Bunnahabhain and Caolila. An 11th at Portintruan, between Islay65 and Laphroaig, is currently under construction and there are talks of a 12th or even a 13th which some say would surely bring bad luck, on the assumption that a goose can only lay a finite number of golden eggs.
Farming and fishing are also important to Islay, and there are a large number of craft industries spread throughout the settlements.
The tourism sector has in the past 15 to 20 years grown enormously and become a major part of the Islay economy, with hotels, pubs, cafes, restaurants and providers of accommodation growing in numbers and diversity.
There are now Port Ellen based island and distillery tours (see taxis below), sea tours, operated by Port Ellen based Islay Sea Adventures and nature tours, operated by Port Ellen based Islay Encounters, all very professional and dedicated to giving visitors a unique experience.
Calmac operate the car ferry service between the mainland terminal at Kennacraig and the Islay terminals at Port Ellen and Port Askaig. Journey time is about 2 hours to Port Askaig and 2 hours 20 minutes to Port Ellen. It is necessary to book in advance.
West Coast Motors operate a regular bus service on behalf of Citylink to and from Glasgow which meets most ferry sailings. Journey time is about 3 hours 20 minutes. It is necessary to book in advance.
LoganAir operate direct return flights from Glasgow International Airport. Flight time is about 45 minutes. It is necessary to book in advance.
Argyll & Bute Council operate the car ferry linking Port Askaig on Islay to Feolin on Jura. It operates to a timetable and while it is a turn up and go service it is recommended that you book in advance as certain sailings only operate if pre-booked
Journey time is about 10 minutes.
The ferry terminal at Kennacraig is about 100 miles from Glasgow Airport (journey time 2 hours 15 minutes) and about 145 miles from Edinburgh Airport (journey time 3 hours 10 minutes).
Car Rental on Islay
Islay Car Hire offer car rental pick up and drop off facilities at ferry terminals and the airport. Cresswell Cars, whose garage is located at the airport, also provide a car rental service.
It is necessary to book in advance.


The main settlements are Port Ellen in the south of the island, Bowmore in the centre, Port Charlotte in the Rhinns and Portnahaven at the tip of the Rhinns in the west.
The best/most accessible sandy beaches are in Port Ellen and area. Port Ellen boasts 2 beaches within the village (loch Leodamais and the White Hart shore) and has a variety of good beaches close by, including Kilnaughton, the Singing Sands, Port an Eas and Kintra.

The longest beach on the island is the Big Strand, which stretches from the River Laggan (near Bowmore) to Kintra (near Port Ellen). It can be accessed by car at Kintra and the Airport and at Laggan. It can also be accessed by walking across the golf course at Machrie.
There are also sandy beaches at Black Rock (near Bridgend), Claddach (near Portnahaven), Saligo (near Loch Gorm) Kilchoman and Killinallin (near Gruinard).
Sport Facilities
There is a swimming pool with gym and sauna in Bowmore.
The Machrie 18 hole golf course & hotel is located in Port Ellen.
Port Ellen Playing Fields is currently being redeveloped and offers a bowling green, football pitch, tennis, mini golf/crazy golf, and a cafe/pavilion with full visibility of an adjacent extensive play area.
Islay Encounters, located close to Port Ellen, offer guided nature walks of the remoter parts of the island.
Islay Sea Adventures, based at Port Ellen Marina, offer a wide range of wildlife trips around the Islay Shores and a range of private & custom charters.
Food & Shopping
Port Ellen has several restaurants, cafes, takeaways, snack bars and 2 grocer shops, a Spar & a Co-op convenience store.
Bowmore has a larger selection of shops, including a Spar and a Co-op supermarket, and restaurants.

There are also Spar type grocer shops in Bridgend, Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Port Askaig.
There are fuel filling stations in Port Ellen, Bowmore, Bridgend, Port Charlotte & Port Askaig.
There are car washes in Port Ellen and Bridgend.
There are several publications in Islay65 describing the extensive range of walks to be found on Islay & Jura.
There is also a list prepared by Islay65, based on local knowledge, which adds to the walks described in the publications.
There are OS Landranger maps of Islay (No 60) & Jura (No 61) in Islay65 for the use of guests. The maps may be taken out of the house to be used but should be left in the house as found when guests depart.
There are also Thermos flasks in the kitchen for the use of guests when out which should be left in the house as found when guests depart.
Taxis on Islay
Bodachs Islay Taxi and Carol's Cabs, both based in Port Ellen, offer taxi services, including distillery and island tours.

It is necessary to book in advance.

A  Standng Stone near Port Ellen

Traigh Baile Aonghais near Killinallin with the
Bens of Jura behind

The American Monument on the Mull of Oa
near Port Ellen

Seals basking on a sandbank on Loch Gruinard
across from Kilnave churchyard


Looking north towards Jura from the summit cairn on Beinn Bheigier

Sunset on the Big Strand near Islay Airport