What do you need to know about a day trip to Gigha? Gigha Island is a great place to spend the day but really if you can, spend longer!
What To Know About Gigha Before You Get There
- The island name is pronounced “Gee-a” with a hard “g”, like the butter (ghee) and comes from the meaning Good Isle. It is only seven miles long by one mile wide and it is a community-owned and run establishment.
- Its population is roughly 200 people and they celebrate Gigha Day on 15th March.
- The island accepts cars & campervans but not caravans as there is only one main road running through the island. What month you visit might determine how you travel around Gigha.
- It would be possible to hike around the island (although you’d need longer than a day) and you’d need to account for the temperamental weather.
- You can hire kayaks, ebikes or bikes at the Activity Centre. Contact Craig on 07549 682700 or visit bike hire.
- During the winter months, the Boathouse Restaurant & the Wee Isle Dairy are not open, the Ardminsh Stores run on a reduced timetable but the bar at the Gigha Hotel is open for bookings, light bites and drinks.
- There’s never a time in Scotland you won’t need a hat, so I’d advise that you take one!
How Many Islands Does Scotland Have?
Scotland has 790 islands and it has more than 10% of Europe’s entire coastline. Only 130 islands have permanent inhabitants and some form of transport system, although some others are accessible on day trips.
The Scottish Islands are divided into five categories; The Outer Hebrides, The Inner Hebrides (of which Gigha is one), the Shetland Islands, Orkney Island, the Firth of Forth and the tidal islands.
The Inner Hebrides is made up of 35 inhabited islands as well as 44 uninhabited islands that stretch along Scotland’s western coast. The three largest islands with the highest populations are Skye, Mull and Islay.
How To Get To Gigha From The Mainland?
The ferry is provided by Calmac and departs from Tayinloan on the west coast of the Kintyre Peninsula with the crossing taking approximately 20 minutes.
You don’t need to pre-book your ticket although it is advisable to get there early. Entry onto the ferry is on a first-come first-served basis.
We travelled in February, the water was a bit rough in the morning but nothing too bad. If the weather is bad, the ferry might get cancelled. You’ll need to check the ferry website for crossing information & keep checking it.
The weather was very changeable for us and we literally had 3 seasons in 1 day. W were spared snow but we had torrential rain, howling gales & beautiful sunshine.
Map Of The Island
Scroll in/out for the places we recommend you visit.
Day Trip To Gigha
Northern Part Of The Island
We caught the first ferry before sunrise and made our way up to the Northern End of the island to watch the sun come up. We couldn’t get access to Palm Tree Beach as the tide was too high so if you have a SUP board, I’d definitely recommend taking it. Even though we visited in winter, the waters were relatively calm and inviting.
There had been a considerable amount of rain before we arrived and that meant some of the footpaths around the north were inaccessible. If you have wellies or waterproof boots, I would take them, especially in the winter months. We couldn’t gain access to the cave or any of the historical sights so we made our way over to the Twin Beaches.
Here we climbed up the rockface (there’s a ladder to help) for a better view. At this point, I definitely regretted not bringing any swimming stuff. The inland beach had clear, turquoise, calm waters with the occasional mini-wave before the rain started pelting our faces. Visiting in February was always going to be a gamble but we felt it paid off.
Parking on Gigha is tight so be mindful, especially as the road is one way and surrounded by fields. Places like East Tarbert Bay are secluded but you’ll need to find appropriate areas to pullover, if you’re driving.
Other things to do in the north of the island include:
- The northern part of the island is a Dark Sky Theatre (Gigha’s night sky on a clear night is exceptional with a Bortle rating of 2 (1 is the darkest skies and 9 corresponds with inner-city skies). Thousands of stars are visible from the island and our galaxy, the Milky Way, is visible from horizon to horizon. Sadly we couldn’t stay long enough to see this but it was always very cloudy when we left.
- Fisherman’s cave (A cavity in the northwestern cliffs of Gigha filled with carvings can be accessed via a waymarked trod path. The route also passes hidden sandy bays and great views out to the western isles.)
- Carn Na Faire (This waymarked path leads to the island’s north watchpoint that was once used as a burial site and vantage point. Via a short ascent, the climb is awarded with fantastic views of Jura, the mainland and Eilean Garbh to the south).
- Carn Ban (A 4,000-year-old burial ground with views out to the north and the mainland.)
- Giant’s tooth (standing stone)
Day Trip To Gigha
Central Part Of The Island
Ardminish Town is the largest settlement on the island. This is where you’ll dock and will find the most restaurants, shops and hotel.
- Creagh Ban (Is the highest summit on Gigha. It’s only 101-metres high but on a good day, the views are unreal)
- Ardminish Town. We stopped here at the hotel for coffee and hot chocolate as we were pretty cold.
- Take your time to explore Achamore Gardens as they’re really splendid. Famous for the rhododendrons there’s all sorts to explore.
- Cove & Walkway (Rudh ‘a’ Chinn Mhoir Beach)
- Cuddyport Beach (where you might see wandering cows taking in the scenery)
- Kilchatten Chapel is a 13th Century ruin, although it only became derelict in the 18th Century. It has been partially preserved. Close by is the Ogham Stone (which has a Pictish inscription and is said to be a gravestone from the earliest settlement of the Scots in Dalriada)
Day Trip To Gigha
Southern Part Of The Island
The southern part of the island is rockier than the north but the beaches are still white sand. It’s a little bit more blustery down there and has a wilder feel
- Sloc an Leim (Spouting Cave)
- Leim Shore & the wind farm
- Unnamed beach (see map)
Read more about Gigha with this book about stories from the island
A Day Trip To Gigha With Pre-Teens
Our kids are now 12 & nearly 14 and have lost interest in hiking and being outdoors as much as they once were. Here’s how we prepared them for our day trip to Gigha:
- They helped plan our packed lunches and snacks, make them up and make sure we had enough to last a day. They chose the sandwich fillings, crisps & bought snacks they liked. We included Nutella sandwiches for later in the day & a flask of soup
- Bribed them with hot chocolate and cakes by visiting the Gigha Hotel
- Agreed to get dinner out at The Boathouse (it was closed! So we had to agree to get takeout on the mainland)
- Gave them a map and asked them to research things they might be interested in seeing
- Chased them through Achamore Gardens bamboo maze (it’s not a real maize but they had fun)
- Allowed them to take their devices but made them aware reception might be patchy
- Agreed to visit the cinema on the mainland in the following days
- Suggested we get ice cream from the Wee Island Dairy (it was closed but we got the ice cream at the cinema instead)
- Negotiated that they didn’t have to get out of the car at every stop
- Stopped to skip stones on the beach
Where To Stay If You Want To Stop The Night(s) On Gigha
- The Yurts in Ardminish
- Beach View Cottage in Ardminish
- Ardminish House near Achamore Gardens
- Isle of Gigha Cottages, near Achamore Gardens
- Camp Site
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Check Out Our Other Posts
Read some more of our other posts from Scotland