Staffa, which comes from the Old Norse for stave or pillar island, is an island in the Inner Hebrides in Scotland. It’s a small, uninhabited island, home to a colony of puffins and famous for its unique basalt columns and Fingals Cave. It can sometimes be quite difficult to land on the island due to the swell but luckily we picked a great day for an exploration to this gorgeous island!
There are many different routes in which you can reach the Isle of Staffa by boat. Staffa Tours leave from Fionnphort on the Isle of Mull and there are also boats that leave regularly from the Iona pier. We actually caught the ferry from the Ulva port and went with the company, Turus Mara, which is a family run business. They offer a number of different tours but we went for just the Staffa option which was around the £30 mark. (The Treshnish Isles are meant to be beautiful so if you have time and a slightly higher budget, this would be a great option).
We left Ulva port on a fairly small ferry but it did have toilet facilities and tea and coffee available. It was a three hour tour and there was around twenty people on-board, all admiring the stunning views of neighbouring isles. It took just under an hour to arrive at Staffa which it’s hugely recognisable from a distance.
We learnt that the basaltic columns on Staffa are due to the steady cooling of flows of lava as they came into contact with a colder bedrock and were exposed to the even more chilling effects of the weather of northern Scotland on the outer surfaces. This miraculously resulted in perfect, mainly hexagonal, columns which you can walk along to reach Fingals Cave.
We were able to land and had an hour to explore this breathtaking isle. We headed to the east of the island first and spent a good thirty minutes watching the puffins fly and land. There is an enormous colony here and they are fairly friendly birds so you can sit fairly close as they soar down the cliffs into the sea and back up again. This was possibly the highlight of our entire trip – it was so peaceful and just incredible to see puffins in the wild and so up close.
We then headed over to the west-coast and looked at Fingals Cave. It’s not the most stable of caves so we were warned to enter at our own risk. We peeked in but mostly just admired this hugely impressive cave from the outside. Interestingly, Felix Mendelssohn visited Fingal’s Cave in 1829 and it was this visit that inspired his the ever-popular Hebrides Overture.
The ferry returned to pick us up and we headed back to the mainland. We kept our eyes peeled for basking sharks and whales – there were none in sight sadly but we did spot some baby seals which were sunning themselves on the rocks.
It was a wonderful day-trip where we made so many happy memories – I would really recommend an excursion to Staffa if you get the chance. It’s an incredible place, brimming with wildlife and showcasing the best of natural geological formations whilst also boasting spectacular sea views.