Duart Bay is a picturesque spot on the Isle of Mull, one of the largest islands of the Inner Hebrides in Scotland. The bay is best known for Duart Castle – the ancestral home of Clan Maclean for over 600 years – which stands on a crag overlooking the Sound of Mull.
The bay offers breathtaking views of the surrounding waters and nearby islands and is an excellent place for wildlife spotting as visitors can often see a variety of sea birds and seals, as well as dolphins and whales.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a wildlife lover, or just someone seeking peace and quiet, Duart Bay is definitely a place worth keeping in mind for your next visit to Mull.
|Address:||Isle of Mull, PA64 6AP|
|Opening Hours:||Duart Bay is accessible 24/7, 365 days a year.|
|Parking:||Limited spaces at the cemetery (postcode PA64 6AP). Spaces at Duart Castle for visitors. Occasional roadside spaces on the road leading to the castle.|
|Facilities:||Cafe, shop, toilets at Duart Castle.|
The Isle of Mull is a personal favourite when it comes to Scotland’s west coast islands. Not only is it close to the mainland (the ferry from Oban takes less than an hour), but it also has every aspect that makes the Inner Hebrides such an amazing region of Scotland to visit.
Lots of walking trails, incredible wildlife, enigmatic castles, and beautiful coastlines – all of which just happen to be shoehorned into one small area on the southeast corner of the island.
Duart Bay is a 3/4-mile wide bay to the immediate west of the famous Duart Castle. Though often bypassed by visitors who make a beeline for the castle, it’s worth taking the time to explore the bay as it’s extraordinarily pretty with a rugged coastline and wide sandflats that are a haven for a variety of wading birds.
The bay faces the gleaming waters of the Sound of Mull to the north and is bordered by large areas of grasslands and woodlands in all other directions, so it’s easily one of the most scenic parts of the island (in my opinion).
As pretty as the scenery is though, Duart Bay is best known for the imposing Duart Castle which sits on a hilltop overlooking the bay on its far eastern point.
This 13th-century castle is home to Clan Maclean and features a number of exhibitions that showcase the history of the castle and the clans associated with it, as well as a fascinating exhibition about the Scouts organization (the 27th clan chief was the head of the British Scouts organization).
For adventure enthusiasts, Duart Bay offers a great sailing experience thanks to the fact that the waters are very well protected from the Atlantic winds that batter the west side of Mull. The downside, though, is that there are no equipment hire shops in the area and it’s tricky to find a good parking space, so if you have bulky gear you might have to look elsewhere to set sail.
Wildlife watching is another popular activity at Duart Bay, with seals, otters, and a variety of bird species often spotted in the area.
Birdwatchers, in particular, are in for a treat as Mull is renowned for being a haven for birds and to date over 200 species have been recorded. Most notably, it’s one of the best places in the UK to spot white-tailed sea eagles which were reintroduced into Scotland in the 1970s.
Other types of birds that can usually be spotted include golden eagles, buzzards, kestrels, and numerous seabirds such as kittiwakes, guillemots, and razorbills. Meanwhile, keeping your eyes glued to the sea opens the possibility of seeing dolphins, porpoises, and even a few species of whales such as minke and orca, plus the occasional basking shark.
As enjoyable as it is to stand on the shores of Duart Bay with a pair of binoculars in hand, by far the best way to see the island’s marine animals is to take a boat trip. There are a couple of operators but I’ve personally taken a trip with Sea Life Mull and can’t rate them highly enough.
With regards to walking, the coastline around the south side of the bay is a wee bit tricky to navigate so I recommend sticking to either the east or west sides. Parking at Duart Castle means you can have a nice wander through the Millennium Wood before heading to the west side of the promontory which has great views of the mainland.
The terrain is very rocky though, and there are no distinct paths, so you’ll need a decent pair of walking boots (link to walking boot reviews) to protect your ankles as you clamber over the shoreline.
A much easier walk can be found on the west side of Duart Bay starting near Torosay Castle and following well-worn paths to Craignure where the ferry docks from Oban. The castle is set on beautiful grounds which are occasionally open to the public, but the castle itself is private property.
Duart Bay’s natural beauty also makes it an idyllic location for scenic picnics. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely lunch with Torosay and Duart castles in the background with the added bonus that the sea breezes pretty much guarantee you’ll avoid any midges.
That being said, Mull’s coastline isn’t completely devoid of the wee blighters when the wind drops so make sure you pack some midge repellent (link to the best repellents) before leaving home.
1: The views at Duart Bay are outstanding and it’s worth visiting just to stand with a pair of binoculars and gaze across the water to the outlying islands and the mainland. The best viewpoint that I found is the tip of the spit of land at Duart Castle where you can look right down the Sound of Mull to the west and over to Lismore to the North.
2: The major point of interest of Duart Bay is Duart Castle which is one of the main attractions on the island. The castle is well worth a visit as it has a fantastic collection of historic artefacts in each room as well as a separate exhibition space dedicated to Clan Maclean.
1: If you have children who aren’t interested in walking around the bay, take them to the wee playpark at the back of Craignure village hall (postcode PA65 6AZ), or failing that, there’s a community swimming pool at the Isle of Mull Hotel (postcode PA65 6AY).
2: There are two good places for hot food and drinks near Duart Bay. The first is the cafe at Duart Castle which serves big portions of home-cooked food at reasonable prices. The second is the Isle of Mull Hotel which has an excellent (and much more expensive) restaurant as well as a bar and spa facilities which are ideal for rainy days.
3: If you’re heading to Duart Bay with a kayak, the best point I found for setting off is from Duart Castle, so if you’re paying for an entry ticket it’s a great opportunity to have a paddle around the bay after a few hours of sightseeing. Another good location is the area 1/3 mile past the cemetery before the castle where the road is only 300 feet from the water.
Things to Do
Explore Duart Castle: The crown jewel of Duart Bay is undoubtedly Duart Castle. Visitors can delve into the rich history of the castle and explore its stately rooms filled with historic artefacts. Stroll through the Great Hall, admire the weaponry in the Sea Room, and gaze upon the beautiful views of the bay from the battlements, followed by a welcome coffee in the on-site cafe.
Sailing Adventures: Duart Bay is a fantastic spot for sailing enthusiasts. The clear waters of the bay offer perfect conditions for a sailing adventure and it’s an excellent location for visitors with sea kayaks – though care must be taken not to go too far out as the Sound of Mull is frequently used by ferries and fishing boats.
Wildlife Watching: The Isle of Mull is renowned for its exceptional wildlife, and Duart Bay is no exception. Take a pair of binoculars (link to binocular reviews) and take a leisurely stroll around the bay. You might spot red deer grazing on the slopes, sea eagles soaring in the sky, and otters playing along the shoreline.
Scenic Picnics: Pack a picnic and head to the grassy banks of Duart Bay for a peaceful afternoon. The bay offers panoramic views of the Sound of Mull so it’s a wonderful place to sit on a summer day and gaze across the water to the Isle of Lismore.
Coastal Walk: There are numerous footpaths running around Duart Bay, though visitors should be aware that some sections are almost impassable after rainfall as the ground becomes very boggy. For an alternative walk, start at Craignure and take the coastal path to the Murray Memorial (location: What 3 Words) which has stunning views across the bay from its western side.
Things to Do Nearby
Distances are from Duart Point.
Duart Castle. Isle of Mull, PA64 6AP. Distance: 1.2 miles.
Duart Castle is the ancestral home of Clan MacLean. This imposing fortification sits on a coastal crag overlooking Duart Bay and the Sound of Mull. The castle is a must-visit due to the picturesque walking routes around the coastline of Duart Bay as well as the historical artefacts waiting to be discovered inside the castle.
Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa. Craignure, Isle of Mull, PA65 6BB. Distance: 2.6 miles.
This is one of Mull’s most luxurious destinations. The hotel features a highly rated restaurant serving local produce, and sumptuous rooms ranging from classic double to indulgent suites with a hot tub. There’s also a spa with a swimming pool and massage treatment rooms.
Sir William Black Lighthouse. PA64 6AP, Mull. Distance: 1 mile.
This is a lighthouse styled like a Gothic tower that’s located on the easternmost point of Mull. The lighthouse was built in the 1900s as a memorial to the Scottish novelist William Black. Walks are possible along the low clifftops in both directions.
Loch Spelve. Inverlussa, Isle of Mull PA65 6BD. Distance: 3.1 miles.
A sea loch that is almost landlocked apart from a narrow opening to the Firth of Lorn. It’s easily accessed via the A849. Due to its protection from the sea, Loch Spelve is often used by kayakers as it’s a good place to explore the Southeast coastline of Mull.
Murray Memorial. Address: Craignure, PA65 6AY. Distance: 1 mile.
This memorial is a Celtic cross located on a promontory on the western edge of Duart Bay. Though not particularly interesting in itself, the memorial makes a good marker for the 2-mile walk along the coastline from the ferry terminal at Craignure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Torosay Castle open to the public?
Torosay Castle was sold in 2012 and is no longer open to the public, although the gardens are occasionally open to visitors.
Where is the Scottish castle in the film Entrapment?
The castle featured in the film ‘Entrapment’ is Duart Castle. In real life, Duart Castle is a 13th-century fortress and the ancestral home of Clan Maclean. In the film, the castle is depicted as the home of the character Mac, played by Sean Connery.
Why is it called Duart Castle?
Duart Castle gets its name from the Gaelic phrase ‘Dubh Ard’, which translates to ‘Black Point’. The castle sits on a craggy cliff that juts out into the Sound of Mull, creating a visually striking black point against the landscape, especially when viewed from the sea.
Where is the Maclean clan from?
The Maclean clan is from Scotland, specifically from the Inner Hebrides region of Argyll and Bute which includes the islands of Mull, Tiree, and Islay. The clan’s origins can be traced back to the 13th century, and their ancestral home is Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull.