Author: Craig Neil
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Last updated on May 13th, 2023.8 minutes to read.
The Isle of Tiree, located on the west coast of Scotland, is a true hidden gem waiting to be discovered. With its pristine beaches, unspoiled landscapes, and charming villages, Tiree is a paradise for nature lovers, history buffs, and anyone seeking a peaceful getaway.
One of the most picturesque villages on the island is Scarinish, a quaint settlement that offers a glimpse into the traditional way of life of Scotland’s Hebridean islands. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the village of Scarinish, its attractions, and why it’s worth a visit on your next trip to Tiree.
Isle of Tiree,
|Opening Hours:||Scarinish is accessible 24/7, 365 days a year.|
|Parking:||Car parking spaces behind the Co-op. Parking is possible on roadside verges as long as the road is not obstructed.|
|Facilities:||Covenience store, bank, pub/restaurant, cafe, public toilets.|
1: As the main settlement on Tiree, Scarinish is the best place to stock up on supplies due to the Co-op. Though not the biggest store in the world it’s well stocked with a regular supply of fresh bread, milk, and all the other essentials you’ll need for your holiday.
2: Scarinish Beach borders a nice wee harbour that’s ideal for smaller children as it’s very sheltered and shallow. Visitors should be aware that pleasure boats use the harbour so children should stay close to the shoreline, or alternatively take a wander to the next beach which is smaller and is not used by boats.
3: Visitors staying on Tiree for a few days might like to take a sea tour from Scarainish. Tours are run by Tiree Sea Tours who run RIB trips to Staffa, Lunga, Iona, and Coll. The waters around Tiree are a haven for marine wildlife so there’s a good chance you’ll see basking sharks, dolphins, and minke whales during the sail.
1: The Tiree Scarinish Beach Hotel is a must-visit for anyone staying on the island. This newly renovated hotel has a nice decking area at the front that overlooks the harbour – perfect for enjoying a pint while watching the sun go down.
2: If you’d like to hire a car while on Tiree your best option is Tiree Car Hire which has rental car parking at the Scarinish ferry terminal.
3: There’s a wee hidden gem in Scarinish that’s well worth a look for anyone interested in the history of Tiree. An Iodhlann is a historical centre that aims to preserve the stories of the island’s past residents as well as display a fascinating collection of photographs and artefacts. You’ll find the museum next to the Co-op.
The Isle of Tiree is the most westerly island of the Inner Hebrides, and although small at only 30 square miles it has become increasingly popular with tourists thanks to its shallow bays of crystal clear water.
Just 650 people call this tiny island home year-round, but that number skyrockets in summer when thousands of visitors come to enjoy the island’s sun-kissed beaches.
Tiree, sometimes known as the “Hawaii of the North,” has an above-average amount of sunshine in the late spring and early summer compared to the rest of the United Kingdom, but it also has significant levels of wind throughout the year.
Those strong winds are a major draw for windsurfers which has led to the island staging the Tiree Wave Classic – one of Europe’s major windsurfing events – each year in October.
Visitors don’t need to be adrenaline junkies to enjoy a trip to Tiree though, as its beaches are perfect for family holidays thanks to wide stretches of clean sand and sheltered bays that offer protection from the pounding waves of the Atlantic.
If you’d like to know more about Tiree’s beaches, take a look at this article.
Visitors to the island will either arrive by plane from Glasgow or will sail there by ferry from Oban, arriving at the Tiree ferry terminal on the eastern side of the island south of Gott Bay.
Once on land, there’s a single road (Pier Road) that heads to Scarinish, the main village on Tiree and the first port of call for most people who make a beeline for the Co-op to stock up on supplies before heading to their accommodation.
Scarinish is an attractive wee village situated between Gott Bay and Hynish Bay which faces a stretch of coastline pockmarked with rocky shorelines and white sand coves, and it’s certainly worth taking the time to explore during a visit.
For tourists with a car, there are parking spaces behind the Co-op as well as in front of the Hebridean Coast cafe, while for those people relying on public transport, there’s a bus stop between the Co-op and the RBS bank (the only bank on the island).
From the store, go through the gate on the opposite side of the road and head down to Scarinish’s historic harbour which is over 250 years old and is still in regular use today. The harbour is set inside a lovely wee bay that has a small beach and a hotel/restaurant to one side.
If you’re travelling with children they’ll have an absolute blast playing on the beach and pottering about in the sea, while mums and dads can chill out on the hotel decking area with a drink in hand.
If there’s the low rumbling of hungry tums in the air, families can either grab a bite to eat in the hotel or pop over to the store for snacks and sandwiches, or into the nearby cafe for a coffee.
There are very few other places on Tiree with similar tourist facilities that are so close to a beach, so Scarinish is certainly worth remembering for anyone wanting a change from packed lunches on their day trips.
If you return in the evening I highly recommend booking a table at the Stoirm restaurant at the Scarinish hotel as the food is good value with big portions of locally-sourced produce including some of the tastiest crabs and lobsters you’re ever likely to find in the Inner Hebrides.
To see the latest dishes on the Scarinish hotel menu visit their website.
Other things to do in Scarinish include visiting the cultural museum and taking a boat tour from the harbour.
I’ve personally used Tiree Sea Tours for a visit to Lunga (AKA ‘Puffin Island’) and rate them very highly. The staff are friendly and the trip to Lunga is fantastic and well worth the money (around £60 per person).
They also run trips to Fingal’s Cave, the Isle of Iona (home of Iona Abbey), and the Isle of Coll, so if you’d like to join them during your time on Tiree visit their website to make a booking.
Tiree’s historical centre, meanwhile, isn’t as exciting but it’s still a fascinating place to visit, especially if you’re like me and love looking at old photographs.
In total, An Iodhlann (Gaelic for the stackyard where the harvest is stored) has more than 12,000 items in its collection comprising a permanent collection that covers Tiree’s culture and geology and temporary exhibitions about its people and history.
Admission is free and it’s run by volunteers so opening hours are staff dependent, but during July and August it’s open Monday to Friday 10 am to 4 pm. You can’t miss the museum building as it’s located next door to the Co-op, more-or-less opposite the public toilets.
If you’re feeling energetic after the museum you might like to take a 1-mile walk along the B8068 to Gott Bay which is the largest beach on the island and a superb location for sand yachting as well as lazy days of sunbathing. You’ll find a complete guide to Gott Bay here.
Finally, please be aware that like most of the west coast islands, Tiree is unfortunately plagued by midges, so if you’d like to know how to avoid them read my Guide to Scottish Midges, and maybe purchase a recommended midge repellent before leaving home.
Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:
Coll & Tiree – 372 Explorer.
Coll & Tiree – 46 Landranger.
OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Explorer maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.
Things to do nearby
1: Skerryvore Lighthouse Museum. Address: Hynish, PA77 6UG.
This is a small, free-to-enter museum that 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 tourists the chance to walk along a wild, rocky coastline that’s home to countless seabirds.
2: 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.
Gott Bay is a popular destination for windsurfing and land yachting and is also a family-friendly beach thanks to its shallow waters.
3: 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 Tiree. The boulder has an unusual rock composition that 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.
4: Dun Mor Vaul. Address: Tiree, PA77 6TP.
Dun Mor Vaul is a broch – an Iron Age fortified dwelling – located on the headland of Vaul. The broch is approximately 9 meters in diameter and has walls that are up to 4.5 metres thick in places.
Most of Dun Mor Vaul has collapsed but some of the surviving walls are up to 2 metres in height.
5: 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 wanting 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 the UK.
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 and they exist in great numbers on Tiree. However, Tiree is known as the windy isle and midges cannot take off when the wind speed is above 7 mph. The average wind speed on the island 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