Sailing To Staffa

As it turned out, getting from Reykjavik to my next destination of Oban in a timely fashion ended up being rather difficult.

After having my flight to Glasgow be pretty damn delayed, I had to hit the ground running the second I got off the plane. One mercifully short encounter with border control later, I ran out to the baggage carousel and hoped that my backpack would come out quickly for the first time in my life.

The travel gods must have heard me as it only took a few minutes to appear!

I hauled it onto my back, ran out of the airport and managed to get on the airport to Glasgow city bus seconds before it left. After a short ride into Glasgow, I jumped off at Queen Street Station and ran into the train station just minutes before my train to Oban was due to leave.

However, the machine where you collect your pre-purchased tickets decided to kick me when I was down and only dispense tickets for the return leg of my trip – not the tickets I needed for the train leaving literally about two minutes later!

After trying (and failing) to get my tickets again I ran to the gate and hurriedly explained my situation to one of the stations employees – who took pity on me and quickly wrote a special code on the back of my ticket receipt to show the ticket inspector. He pushed me through the nearest train doors literally 6 seconds before they closed and for the first time in hours, I could let out a sigh of relief!

After finding my seat and buying some well earned snacks from the trolley, I settled in for the 3 hour journey to Oban.


After arriving in Oban, eating haggis for dinner, eating mac and cheese for second dinner and showering the stress of the day away, I tucked myself into bed so that I could get a good nights sleep before an early rise in the morning.

I awoke feeling refreshed and before long, was off on the early morning ferry to my first stop – the Isle of Mull.

Now – not so long ago you may remember me mentioning how my forgetful self forgot her neutral density lens filter. On this particular day I managed to do one better and forget to put my fully charged battery into my camera. After a few moments of feeling rather annoyed at my own stupidity, I resigned myself to using my iPhone for the day.

After a lovely ferry ride to Craignure on the Calmac ferry and a beautifully scenic bus ride from Craignure to Fionnphort it was finally time for the reason for all this travel.

A boat trip to the Isle of Staffa to see Fingals Cave!

Staffa is an isle in the inner hebrides of Scotland and is famous for its remarkable appearance! The tiny island is made up of hexagonal basalt columns – much like those at the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland. The island boasts a cave made up of these stunning pillars, which can be entered when the sea conditions allow it.

The boat trip out to Staffa can be mighty choppy – so make sure you wear waterproof gear and take motion sickness medicines if you are prone to getting seasick. The trip can also be incredibly stunning, and if you are as lucky as I was, can even result in a special visit from some beautiful marine life.

Hello Mr Dolphin!
Hello Mr Dolphin!

Approaching the isle is pretty magnificent – far more so than my iPhone pictures can show!

Despite the choppy water and blustery weather conditions, we were able to dock long enough to disembark the small boat and explore!

The walk to the entrance of the cave is rather slippery and more than one person had a fall in the short time we were there. Make sure you take care when exploring and wear a strong pair of hiking boots with good gripping soles.

The cave itself is much smaller than I had thought it would be, but still absolutely beautiful.

After getting my fill of the cave, I had a little time left, so decided to climb up the steep steps to the top of the isle, so that I could view the cave from above.

I am not going to lie – getting the next picture required some pretty precarious foot placement at the edge of the cliff. It was incredibly windy too – I am lucky that my apparent disregard for my own safety didn’t have any ill fated consequences.

It is a pretty picture though!

After almost getting blown away by the Scottish wind it was time to head back to Mull via the Isle of Iona.

The stop on Iona was only a short one; but it was long enough to defrost with a nice hot toddy and explore some beautiful ruins.

T H E   L O W D O W N
Getting to Oban: Scotrail run several trips per day from Glasgow
Getting to Fionnphort: Calmac ferries go from Oban to Craignure several times daily – from Craignure, catch the 496 bus to Fionnphort
Boat Trip to Staffa: Staffa Tours run trips to Staffa daily, click here for more details
Camera: iPhone 6
Remember: Waterproof clothing, motion sickness remedies and to put the battery in your camera!

Posted by

30-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

73 thoughts on “Sailing To Staffa

      1. I’ll be there! I have really enjoyed following you, your photography and writing is always great. Be safe! ❤️

  1. We’ve been on that train from Glasgow to Oban. From there, we boarded a ferry for a 5 hour trip to the Outer Hebrides isle of Barra. It is where the McNeils were from. I am married to a McNeil. We will go back again, I’m sure. I want to see the columns you were on.

    1. It is quite a lovely train ride! The views of Loch Lomond are quite lovely. Ooh I bet Barra was beautiful! I would love to spend several months visiting all the isles… one day!

  2. Despite having been to Scotlands many, many times in my life I have never been to the Isles and Islands. After seeing your stunning photographs I think this is a must on my next visit.

  3. What time of the year was your visit – the weather looked just great.
    Last time I was in Scotland it rained every day, and during our day trip to Glasgow (from Edinburgh) the rain was so heavy we couldn’t leave the hop on hop off bus – we were there in June!

    1. It was in late September/early October! The weather was unseasonally good! I am used to the Scottish rain too and couldn’t believe how much I lucked out! I think El Nino may be playing a part in that though…

  4. It sounds like a good adventure for you. Things did not go exactly right but also didn’t do all to hell in a handbasket either. Lovely scenery. I’ve left critical photo gear behind at times. Thank heavens for iPhones. Cheers!

  5. I am very happy you were able to make your travel connections so we could appreciate this amazing island! The structure makes me think of giant Lego blocks! The color of the stone inside the cave is beautiful. Mother Nature is quite an artist! (And you did quite a good job photographing it too!)😊

  6. The cave was beautiful and I liked the ledges. The ruins are a place I would take photographs and enjoy thinking of the past people who had passed through those stone walls. Smiles, Robin

      1. Not in the near future unfortunately. The last time I was in Scotland was about 20 years ago, and I fell in love with it then.

  7. Argh! Missed out on all this awesomeness when I went to Scotland in August! Really want to go to Fingal’s Cave but we couldn’t get there this time round. Maybe next year… Also I learned about Neutral Lens Filters today, thanks for that. I’ve been reducing my shutter speed to get the same result which ends with less than ideal sharpness on pictures of things like the sea.

    1. My pleasure! Polarising filters are pretty wonderful too! The lens I use is a very bright lens, sometimes it needs to tone it down a smidge!

      1. It’s the Canon 40mm prime lens with f/2.8. It totally surprised me. There’s definitely better ones out there for a lot more money, but I picked it up for £80 from a second hand camera shop and it’s so lightweight.

  8. Another reminder as to why my Bucket List includes “Embrace the world”. The Isle of Staffa reminds me some of the Sea Lion Cave, in Florence, Oregon, but it is certainly more geologically impressive. It is something of a natural cathedral!

  9. Having been to the Giants Causeway, I am a bit jealous of your Staffa trip, will have to look into that one when next in Scotland. Thanks for the post.

      1. Not currently, but visits the homeland (Uk) about every 3 years and like to combine with new experiences, so it will g on the list, thanks.

  10. Very beautiful pictures and interesting article! It looks even more spectacular than the Giant’s Causeway. I especially like the pictures of the cave. It was probably too small for the Scottish Giant. : )

  11. Stunning! I had no idea this place existed and now it’s been added to my “must sees” when we get to Scotland, eventually. Thanks for sharing and braving the precarious precipice!

      1. Midges are the Scots weapon against us English, they are the nastiest smallest bitiest insects you hVe ever known! Only the Loch Ness monster is able to stand up to them

  12. So awesome. I have been to Giant’s causeway twice and something similar here in California called the Devil’s Postpile. It is wonderful to see what the other side of Giant’s causeway looks like. I will have to forward your post to my parents so they can see it too.

  13. I am very happy to have come across your site! I have a real interest in traveling and your blog is amazing! So inspirational! Thanks for sharing this post I really enjoyed it!

  14. Staffa looks stunning, great pics, can definitely see the similarities to the Giant’s Causeway. Didnt know there was a regular service out to it. Enjoying your blog so far and glad to see you’ve made it to my part of the world already (northern bit of Ireland).

Leave a Reply