Isle of Tiree Visitor Guide | Inner Hebrides (2024)

The Isle of Tiree is the most westerly island of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides. The island is known for its low-lying landscape, with its highest point just 141 meters above sea level. The Isle of Tiree measures approximately 20 miles long and 12 miles wide, covering an area of about 30 square miles.

Renowned for its exceptional levels of sunshine during the summer, the island is often referred to as the ‘Hawaii of the North’. Tiree is also famous for its long stretches of sandy beaches and excellent wind conditions, making it a popular destination for windsurfing and other water sports.

Isle of Tiree Visitor Guide | Inner Hebrides (1)

Contents

Overview

Tourist Information

Things to Do

Things to Do Nearby

Frequently Asked Questions

Related Posts

Overview

Isle of Tiree Visitor Guide | Inner Hebrides (2)


The Isle of Tiree, the westernmost island in the Inner Hebrides, is renowned for its unspoiled beauty, pristine beaches, and fascinating wildlife. Known as the ‘Sunshine Isle’, it offers family-friendly experiences, historical sites, and hosts an annual music festival as well as a major surf competition, making it a great destination for visitors of all ages.

The Isle of Tiree is the most westerly island of the Inner Hebrides. Although small at only 30 square miles, it has become increasingly popular with tourists thanks to its golden sand beaches and shallow bays of crystal clear water. This low-lying isle has a small population of around 650 permanent residents but this number increases significantly in summer when tourists flock to the island to enjoy the beautiful beaches and peaceful setting.

The weather in Tiree can be changeable but the island enjoys a relatively high number of total hours of sunshine (around 1500) during the late spring and early summer compared to the average for the UK, although strong winds can be felt throughout the year.

The island is best known for its collection of beaches (you can read about them in this article – Guide to Tiree’s Best Beaches) which surround the picturesque coastline almost end-to-end from the wide-open bays of Gott and Crossapol to the off-the-beaten-track hideaways of Sandaig and Caolas.

Although beach holidays are the main attraction, many visitors flock to Tiree to enjoy two of the biggest events in the Inner Hebrides – the Tiree Music Festival and the Tiree Wave Classic – which are worth attending but usually mean accommodation and travel are sold out unless you book months in advance.

For the rest of the year, Tiree has a relaxed atmosphere thanks to the fact that it’s not as commercialised as Skye or Islay and it’s more difficult to get to due to its location, but I reckon it’s the perfect place for a ‘staycation’ summer holiday.

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The Highlights

1: Tiree is renowned for its stunning and unspoiled beaches, such as Balephuil Bay, Gott Bay, and Balevullin Bay. These beaches are perfect for a peaceful walk, sunbathing, and water sports like windsurfing and kitesurfing.

2: With its flat terrain and scenic landscapes, Tiree is perfect for cycling and walking. There are numerous routes to explore which offer breathtaking views of the coastline and countryside.

3: Tiree is home to several fascinating historical sites like the Ringing Stone, a large boulder covered in ancient cup markings, and the ruins of the 13th-century chapel of St Patrick which houses early Christian and medieval carved stones.

Visiting Tips

1: Tiree is quite windy with wind speeds averaging around 18 mph so make sure you take windproof clothing with you whatever time of year you visit. Whenever I’ve visited Tiree I always make sure I pack a foldable jacket in my bag (Amazon link) as you never know when the weather will change.

2: The winds have been known to cancel ferry sailings without much notice so check the Calmac website for details before travelling. As with most islands, Tiree is dependent on ferries, but at least there’s an airport with daily flights to Glasgow.

3: The beaches you visit will depend on the wind direction, so taking a map with you will help you make the most of your holiday. Google Maps are ok if you have an internet connection, but the best option is paper Ordnance Survey maps which are ideal for working out where the most secluded beaches are. Buy OS Explorer Maps direct from Ordnance Survey.

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Tourist Information

Sometimes called The Hawaii of the North due to its glorious weather, the Isle of Tiree is a popular windsurfing venue and the longest-running windsurfing competition in the world – the Tiree Wave Classic – is held on the island each year in October. The event showcases the best windsurfing talent in the world and it’s an opportunity for spectators to enjoy surf culture as well as watch this exciting sport close up.

Another big event held on the island is the annual Tiree Music Festivalwhich features the cream of Scottish folk and rock music across three days offun, food, and music. The event has been steadily growing in size since itscreation in 2010 and now attracts around 2,000 music fans each year and has won 9 national awards including the Best Scottish Small Event award.

There are lots of wee attractions to explore on Tiree like the local history museum in the island’s main village of Scarinish and the Skerryvore Lighthouse Museum, while natural wonders including Fingals Cave and the Ringing Stone offer interesting excursions into the remotest parts of the island.

Travel

Access to Tiree is easy thanks to the small airport and the regularCalmacferry crossings, although as accommodation is limited it can be hard to find a place to stay during the peak summer season so it’s recommended to book well in advance.

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With regards to flights, you can take a scheduledLoganairflight from Glasgow Airport or charter a flight from Oban withHebridean Air, with the more popular Glasgow flight taking a mere 40 minutes door-to-door. As you fly over the island you’ll get your first glimpses of what’s to come – crescent-shaped bays, huge plains of machair (wildflowers and grasses), and tiny villages dotted about. You might even see pods of dolphins and minke whales swimming off the coastline.

Once you’re on the island you have several transport options available, although the easiest is to use your own car if you’ve taken the ferry. However, if you want to be a bit more eco-friendly you can walk or hire a bike.

Bike hire is (in my opinion) the best option to explore Tiree, so contact Tiree Fitness which hires bikes for around £20 per day (£85 per week) and electric bikes for £35 per day (£170 per week). Electric bikes are a great idea as they allow you to roam around the island’s many miles of country roads with a minimum of effort and they make it easy to cycle into the inevitable headwinds that’ll battle to push you off course.

If you’d prefer four-wheeled transport you can hire a car from MacLennan Motors or you can hire a taxi from John Kennedy Taxis which operates out of Crossapol (tel: 01879 220419).

With regards to accommodation, you should know that Tiree is always busy in summer so you’ll have to book well in advance if you want to secure a holiday rental. Many of the Islanders let out their homes for the summer season and the prices are constantly changing, so instead of listing them all on this page I’ll just link to the official Isle of Tiree Places to Stay page which has a comprehensive list of available holiday homes.

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Things to Do

Windsurfing: The Isle of Tiree is renowned for its wind conditions, making it the perfect place for windsurfing. Whether you’re a seasoned expert or a complete beginner, there are plenty of opportunities to ride the waves. The island also hosts an annual windsurfing competition each October – the Tiree Wave Classic – that attracts professionals from around the world.

Exploring Tiree: Step back in time and explore Tiree’s fascinating history. Visit the Iron Age ring fort, Dun Mor Vaul, and marvel at the nearby Ringing Stone. The Tiree Heritage Centre also offers an insight into the island’s past with exhibits showcasing traditional tools, clothing, and photographs.

Bird Watching: For nature lovers, a visit to Loch a’ Phuill is a must. This tranquil spot is a haven for a wide variety of bird species including Lapwings, Redshanks, and the rare Corncrake. Don’t forget your binoculars if you want a close-up view as there’s little cover to hide behind. Click here to read binocular reviews.

Cycling: Tiree’s flat terrain and scenic landscapes make it ideal for cycling. Hire a bike and take a leisurely ride around the island while taking in the stunning coastal views, sandy beaches, and colourful wildflower meadows.

Tiree Music Festival: If you’re visiting in July, don’t miss the Tiree Music Festival. This popular event attracts bands from all over the world and offers a unique blend of folk, rock, and Celtic music. With a backdrop of clear blue seas and white sandy beaches, it’s a music festival like no other.

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Things to Do Nearby

Gott Bay. Address: Kirkapol, PA77 6TW.
Gott Bay is the largest bay in Tiree and is home to the largest beach on the island. The southern end is the location of the Barra and Coll ferry jetty while the northern end allows access to a small and rarely visited islet. Because Gott Bay is sheltered it’s an ideal family beach thanks to its shallow waters.

Scarinish. Address: Scarinish, PA77 6UH.
Scarinish is the main settlement on Tiree and is the location of the island’s supermarket as well as a bank and a post office. In addition, Scarinish has an attractive harbour which is the main departure point for wildlife cruises to the Isle of Lunga.

Skerryvore Lighthouse Museum. Address: Hynish, PA77 6UG.
This is a small, free-to-enter museumthat explores the history behind the Skerryvore Lighthouse – one of the remotest, oldest, and tallest lighthouses in the United Kingdom. Skerryvore is situated on the southeast corner of Tiree which is a great place to visit in itself as it offers visiting tourists the chance to walk along a wild, rocky coastline that’s home to countless seabirds.

The Ringing Stone. Address: Tiree, PA77 6UY.
This unusual natural attraction is a large boulder that sits in a remote region on the northwest side of the island. This boulder has an unusual rock composition which creates a ringing sound when struck, similar to striking metal. Though folklore says the boulder was thrown there by a giant, it is, in fact, a remnant left behind by a glacier.

Balevullin Beach. Address: Balevullin, PA77 6XD.
This beach on the southwest corner of Tiree is one of the most-visited due to its position facing the strong winds of the Atlantic Ocean, making it a superb location for windsurfing. Visitors looking to learn the sport before heading out onto the open water can head inland to nearby Loch Bhasapol which is used by watersports training schools.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size is Tiree?

Tiree is 30.24 square miles / 78.34 square km / 7,834 hectares in total area.
Tiree is served by Calmac ferries and Logainair flights.
Directions map: Google Maps

Is Tiree the sunniest place in the UK?

Tiree enjoys an average of 1534 hours of sunshine annually, making it one of the sunniest places in Scotland.
The seaside resort of Shanklin on the Isle of Wight is officially the sunniest place in Britain with an average of 1923 hours of sunshine annually.

Do you get midges on Tiree?

Midges are prevalent on the west coast of Scotland. However, Tiree is known as the windy isle and midges are virtually non-existent in summer.

Midges cannot take off when the wind speed is above 7 mph, and the average wind speed on Tiree is 13 mph from March to October.

Is Tiree worth visiting?

Tiree is one of the most popular west coast islands in Scotland thanks to its clear seas and wide, golden beaches that are easy to access.

Tiree is a haven for windsurfing thanks to its shallow bays and high winds, and it is home to two much-anticipated annual events – the Tiree Music Festival and the Tiree Surf Classic

Related Posts

  • Duart Bay Visitor Guide

  • Scarinish Visitor Guide

  • Gott Bay Visitor Guide

  • Lochbuie Visitor Guide

Isle of Tiree Visitor Guide | Inner Hebrides (2024)

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