It has been a few weeks now since I explored the eye-opening Outer Hebrides! Everything I saw was breath-taking and changed my viewpoint on the world and Scotland in general.
Every sheep, beach and natural landscape was fascinating and made for a remarkably unique holiday. Even though it didn’t go to plan, I wouldn’t change it. This holiday gave us hurdles but we leaped over successfully and it truly was a brilliant time up north.
There is one verdict I have to decide on though… What is my favourite island? We adventured far and wide, up and down and saw everything there is to see on many of the Scottish islands.
In this blog, I will breakdown my overall thoughts on each island we explored and come up with an answer.
Isle of Barra
Barra is the most westerly island in the UK and has a population of 1,078 (reported by the 2001 census). With its white sandy beaches, Barra stood out for being the smallest island we visited.
Everything felt connected due to the closeness of it all. You definitely felt like you were stranded on an island – away from civilisation.
The weather wasn’t spectacular when we visited the Isle of Barra. It was that windy our tent was ruined and we had to sleep in the car. Albeit this, we got up early and explored the island and saw the beauty in alright conditions. Barra airport was interesting due to how the plane landed on the smooth beach – a bucket list experience I’d love to do! Kisimul castle was also fascinating and something I’d love to see more off if I ever return.
Barra isn’t my favourite island in the Outer Hebrides but I’m glad I’ve been. Feeling that cramped environment was different from any other island, however, I preferred the wide open landscapes. Barra is definitely worth the visit but it wouldn’t do you weeks of staying put. Add this as your 1st destination on your Island Hopping adventure – getting the ferry from Oban to Castlebay. Moving up north will increase the beauty you desire.
Isle of Vatersay
If you go to the Isle of Barra then the Isle of Vatersay is certainly an island you should check out!
Vatersay is the southernmost island in the Hebrides and is attached to Barra by causeway.
This island has some stunning beaches and is where the picturesque gate is located. If you are lucky you may spot the cows chilling on the beach!
A traumatising experience is visiting the plane rubble on the island. This plane crashed taking WW2 soldiers home which is truly tragic! You may feel empty while walking around the abandoned parts of steel but something you should commemorate when at Vatersay.
I enjoyed my time at Vatersay and glad I got to see it with my own eyes.
Isle of Eriskay
If you are a history-lover then the Isle of Eriskay is one for you!
Travelling up from Barra by ferry on the way to the Uist islands will take you to the ancient isle. This island is famous for being where Bonnie Prince Charlie 1st stepped foot on Scottish soil.
When I was there I roamed around the neighbourhood, glancing at the war graves and letting the wind hit me in the face. An interesting island that we should be grateful for the causeway connecting it to South Uist.
Isle of South Uist
We were lucky enough to be booked into the Polochar inn on the Isle of South Uist. Due to rearrangements, we were struggling to find accommodation not fully-booked so before going to the Outer Hebrides, think again if you are camping. The weather is unpredictable and the warmth of a BnB sounds better than the patter of rain on a tent.
South Uist was remarkable for its mile long white beaches and nature trails. It was surprisingly mainly flat with mountains scattered around infrequently. The flattest of the Isles.
Beforehand I kept on saying Uist will lowkey be my favourite island and even though it isn’t my favourite, I am thankful I had the chance to visit.
This islands downfall is not having much to do. The landscape was stunning – don’t get me wrong – but that is all it was. Grasslands for miles.
Isle of Benbecula, North Uist & Berneray
The causeways joined all of these islands together to tie up a natural masterpiece.
Benbecula is home to an airport and I could go on and on about the incredible beach we visited there! The contrast was unnaturally special. One way you’d look and you’d be staring at white, fluffy seashores, stared in the opposite direction and you’d be looking at plain farmlands. Scotland is astonishingly fantastic!
We didn’t visit North Uist or Berneray that much (only drove through) but Berneray is where the CalMac ferry comes to carry you to the Isle of Harris.
Isle of Harris
A month prior to this trip, I explored the Isle of Harris with my friends. We trekked and cycled the island and saw the beauty of the East Coast. We couldn’t go much further due to the constraints of having a bike. This is my reason for stating having a motor vehicle is the best way to sightsee the islands.
Isle of Harris was as gorgeous as it was previous. The West Coast had a rich beauty like no other though. The turquoise waters and Luskentyre Beach was exceptional and made me say “Wow” aloud.
The East coast was mountainous and rugged – an ultimately different landscape from the other side.
Tarbert was a nice wee town, where visiting the Harris distillery for some of their iconic gin and buying Harris Tweed is a must! I see Harris Tweed making in a new light since visiting the Outer Hebrides. The dedication is inspirational.
Harris is a worthy visit, not only during an island hopping trip but by itself. If you just want to relax by the calm waves then Harris is the isle for you!
Isle of Lewis
The Isle of Lewis is the most northern of the western isles and is bordered by Harris (it is the same island but split by territories). This island is my absolute favourite and it isn’t due to it sharing my name.
The Isle of Lewis had everything for an adventurers passion. The beautiful beaches; some even had crystal-clear waters, City life: Stornoway, even though, in my opinion, it wasn’t the most well done city in Scotland. Rugged terrain, flat land, wildlife at its finest!
Some unique attractions such as: The Callanish Stones, the blackhouses – which present the origins of living on the island, Seastacks and the Butt of Lewis are definitely hotspots you should add to your list if they aren’t there already!
The Isle of Lewis is also where my favourite beach in the world is situated! This beach is unnamed, so therefore, I call it the Butt of Lewis beach as it isn’t far from the northern lighthouse. This beach is secluded and a nice getaway for some relaxation. The sand was very smooth and the water was so clear you’d think you where sunbathing in the Caribbean.
The Isle of Lewis was like living a dream – a must see island if you ever decide to explore Scotland. ❤
There may have been some islands I never visited, like the inhabited St. Kilda – which I wish to see to see someday because of its magnificent puffin population, but I hope I’ve helped compile a list of islands worth visiting. The Isle of Lewis is one of the reasons Scotland is talked about in discussion of most beautiful countries in the world.