An Inner Hebrides cruise allows the guests onboard to enjoy the very best of the Western Islands of Scotland. The Inner Hebrides is situated close to the Western Coast of mainland Scotland but due to its mountainous nature and divisive inlets it is quite remote. Small traditional Scottish villages can be found nestled in the valleys and hardy fishing towns along the coast. Along with the villages there are several castles and ancient remains to be seen from the water or explored in person to learn more about Scotland’s rich history.
The coastline is green and home to thick forests and striking mountains. The flora and fauna is rich both on land and in the ocean. Hebridean cruises to the Inner Hebrides, Scotland are perfect for hiking, watersports and getting a taste of the culture of rural Scotland. Whisky connoisseurs might also want to get a taste of Scotland’s iconic drink, many of the most famous whisky's are made on the islands of the Inner Hebrides. It is also well worthwhile getting a taste of the local food which emphasises fresh local produce and seafood in particular.
Top things to do and see on a Inner Hebrides Islands Cruise
The Isle of Islay is probably most famous for its whisky with eight different distilleries operating on this small island. Aside from whisky Islay enjoys a rich diversity of wildlife and is well known in bird watching circles. Bird enthusiasts will find sea eagles and falcons hunting up high and numerous sandpipers and oystercatchers poking around on the beaches.
Only two and a half kilometers across, the tiny Isle of Muck is a great place for hiking and wildlife. The isle is home to a great number of birds including the iconic puffin and fishing is a popular sport with large shoals of mackerel near the shore. The mackerel also attract wild porpoise and whales close to the island, in fact it is thought that the island is named after the Gaelic name for porpoise.
The bright and colourful houses of Tobermory are a great first greeting on the Isle of Mull. Mull has a great deal to offer hikers and history enthusiasts. The Duart Castle former seat of the infamous Maclean clan and the monastery on the tiny isle of Iona, an important center of Christian religion since the 6th Century are both well worth a visit. Speedboat trips along the Sound of Mull are an exhilarating experience and ideal for photographing the castles and mountains from the water.
A sail along the coast of the Inner Hebrides wouldn’t be complete without a visit the its most northerly island Skye. The Isle Of Skye is the largest of these islands and is well known for its striking landscape and excellent hiking. Skye is home to a large number of traditional Scottish crofts and has two of it own whisky distilleries.
The Mull of Kintyre was made famous by the Paul McCartney song of the same name and it is easy to see why he loved it so much. The peninsula is home to a number of whisky distilleries and boasts fantastic views of Jura on one side and across to Ireland on the other. Kintyre is also a top spot for sea life with seal colonies and passing basking sharks.
The tiny Isle of Eigg is surprisingly lively for being only twelve kilometers square of land. The island is well known for its knitwear and local crafts. Eigg is also popular for fishing and hiking, hikers often walk to the singing sands, a quartz beach which makes a surprising sound when it is walked on.
On a cruise around the Hebrides, it is likely you will spot the Paps of Jura long before you are near the island. These three iconic mountains stick out of the skyline for miles around. Jura is also very famous for its rich peat flavoured whisky. The wildlife on Jura is varied and rich with over seven thousand red deer, elusive otters and several grey seal colonies.
The Isle of Raasay sits between the mainland and the Isle of Skye and is a well sheltered part of the Inner Hebrides. The island is well known for outdoor activities and is home to a large outdoor center for kayaking, climbing and fishing.
Top Tips for visiting the Inner Hebrides on a cruise
- One of the big things to consider in the Inner Hebrides is the weather which can change in what seems like minutes. Bringing warm clothing and waterproofs is a must, good waterproof walking boots as well.
- It is however also work bringing suncream and a hat as despite the cool winds the sun is often quite strong in Scotland.
- Bring binoculars if you want to get a good look at seabirds like puffins which often perch on precarious sea cliffs.
- It is well worth noting that on many islands in the Inner and Outer Hebrides the Christian Sunday day of rest is strictly adhered to and many facilities will be unavailable on this day.
Best time to cruise the Inner Hebrides Islands
The best time to take an Inner Hebrides cruise is between May and September when the weather is warmer and more predictable. If you are planning on taking an Inner Hebrides cruise in July or August, you should plan ahead as this is the busiest time of the year. This period is the school holidays and the peak time for hiking in Scotland so be sure to book well in advance. August is also popular for birdwatching being the breeding season for several birds including puffins.
Where do Inner Hebrides cruises depart from?
Many Scottish small ship cruises to the Inner Hebrides leave from the ferry port at Oban which can be reached from Glasgow Airport by train or coach. The journey is around four hours by coach and three hours by train. Cruises that depart from Tobermory can be reached by ferry from Oban, or if you enjoy a more scenic route a drive from Glasgow to the ferry port at Loch Aline. Departures from Inverness leave from Inverness harbour which is around a twenty-minute drive or bus ride from Inverness Airport. Kyle of Lochalsh on the West Coast is also best reached by car or bus from Inverness airport being around an hour and a half away.
The main airport for reaching the Inner Hebrides is Glasgow which receives flights from many major international airports including London and Dubai. Inverness airport has less departure options than Glasgow but is a better choice for more northerly departure points such as Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh. Inverness connects to London, Amsterdam and Munich.
Please contact our reservations team to book your next adventure cruise to the Inner Hebrides Islands, Scotland.