About Islay

Welcome to the Queen of the Hebrides

The Island

Islay is the 5th largest Scottish island with a population of circa 3,000.

Although just 25 miles long, Islay provides a host of experiences for active guests. From rugged landscapes explored by land or water with abundant wildlife, to cosy whisky tastings, star gazing and beach picnics – Islay has so much to offer. And you’ll be doing the famous “Islay wave” (everyone waves to each other when travelling around the island) by the time you leave!


Islay is most famous for its smokey, peaty whisky. There are nine distilleries on the island, Ardbeg, Ardnahoe, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman, Lagavulin and Laphroaig, producing some of the most sought after and distinctive single malt whiskies in the world. Guests of The Machrie can explore Islay’s distilleries with bespoke tours and tastings.


Islay’s history stretches back to around 8000BC. From standing stones and stone circles to castles and lost villages, Islay has so much history to discover.

Must-visit spots for history enthusiasts include-

The Kildalton Cross & Chapel
Explore with the ruins of a chapel and the carved stone cross dating to circa 820AD as well as several ancient graves depicting carved figures.

Museum of Islay Life
From flint tools from the Mesolithic period to illicit whisky stills, and collections of old Islay photographs there is 10,000 years of Islay history on display.

The American Monument, The Oa
Perched on 429 foot cliffs on the edge of the Oa Peninsula to commemorate the sinking of two troop carrying ships and the many lives sadly lost off the rocks of Islay in WW1.


Home to an array of wildlife, guests can travel the coastline of Islay in search of birds and sea life. The Machrie can arrange bespoke day trips with Kayak Wild Islay or Islay Sea Adventures where they will have the chance to spot seals, herons, arctic terns, black guillemots, sea eagles, dolphins and even the elusive otter.


The hotel can also arrange fishing trips for the opportunity to catch mackerel, pollock, coley and cod. Guests are taken out on the Atlantic Ocean on board a 38ft Revenge charter fishing boat to explore Islay’s vast coastline and try their hand at some of the very best fishing in Scotland.

The Machrie is conveniently connected to private footpaths which takes guests on beautiful oceanic walks to hidden coves and beaches – all of which can often be enjoyed in complete solitude. There are over 70 walking or cycling routes around the island. Additionally, guests can try e-biking or even fat biking which allows them to explore the coast with access to beaches and dirt tracks.

Why not explore Islay in a Tuk Tuk! Available for short journeys or bespoke tours, Islay Tuk Tuk is a fun and unique way of getting around the island.

Islay is one of the most accessible Scottish islands and offers so much beauty, heritage and adventure.

Begin your Islay adventure at The Machrie!

Don’t just take our word for it! Here’s what people who live on the island say about it…