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Staffa, longer than an hour

Okay, am I missing something? Staffa seems like a wonderful trip but every boat company I find leaves you there for "about an hour". And I hear it takes time to walk to the caves and also a walk to the puffins.

Is there some tour I'm missing that leaves you there for 2-3 hours?

Posted by
1856 posts

Just commenting to make sure I check back for answers. Could it be that there is a return boat every hour, but you don't necessarily need to take the one that is 1 hour later? I recall this is how it worked on Delos in Greece.

Posted by
3382 posts

It is a few years since I was on Staffa, but I think you could contact Staffa tours to see if they have other types of schedules. We were on a day tour that took in all 3 islands so that hour was about as long as we got. To be honest, it was enough. It doesn't take very long to walk to the cave or up to the cliff where the puffins hang around. One challenge for the boat companies is that you don't tie up and wait at Staffa. You off load your passengers and then move away from the landing so that other boats can use it as well. The tour is always weather dependent as well. They have to have calm enough seas to safely land people.

I don't remember seeing any restroom facilities on Staffa, perhaps they were there and I didn't see them, but I don't think so. That might be one limiting factor to how long a person might want to stay on the island. The other key piece of information is that this tour is not for the mobility challenged. One dear older couple on our boat found that they really couldn't do anything but sit right above the boat landing for the entire time. There wasn't much room there and I don't think it was a pleasant experience. The steps up from the beach to the upper levels of the island are steep. The path to the cave is uneven over the columnar basalt. If anyone thinks that this might be a challenge, stay on Iona and skip Staffa.

Posted by
940 posts

Hi, pastorash,

Turus Mara advertises 1 1/2 hours ashore on Staffa, but you'd need to get to the Ulva ferry slip to take their boat. A car would be a necessity to get to the ferry slip.

I don't know if it's done, but you could go out on the morning cruise with Staffa Tours, either from Fionnphort or Iona, then stay on Staffa until the afternoon tour comes back. There would be several drawbacks to that option: You'd have to pay double, as the boat company would be giving up a seat on the return trip; there is no shelter on Staffa, unless you can take shelter in the cave (you'd be there for four hours); there are no toilet facilities on Staffa; and if the weather turns bad, and the boat can't return, you'd be stuck there overnight.

Check out the Turus Mara website for more information on their tours. They also have tours to Inch Kenneth, where you can visit the ruins of a 12th century chapel.

Best wishes for your travels!

Mike (Auchterless)

Update: It's actually Mull Charters who do the boat trip to Inch Kenneth, with two hours ashore. The history of the island is fascinating, especially the story of the Mitford family.

p.s.: Has anyone else noted that almost all of these tours are three hours in duration? I hope that none of these boats are named the S. S. Minnow.

Posted by
130 posts

I went onto Turus Mara, and both of their Staffa tours still advertise just an hour on the island.

Perhaps someone doesn't want you there long.

Posted by
3382 posts

I think it is more likely that the general population finds that this amount of time is about right. I imagine that there may be some constraints and limits on the number of people there at once, but I would simply email Staffa Tours and ask if they have charters, etc.

Posted by
613 posts

Staffa is a wildlife preserve belonging to the National Trust for Scotland. We also did the 3 Islands Tour with, as Carol mentioned. She gave an excellent account of the experience. There are no tourist facilities as it is a wildlife preserve.

The day we were there started out rainy, but cleared by the time we got to Staffa. The landing is on a small concrete pier that was all but covered in water. One boat at a time can use it. You get a good view of Fingal's Cave on the way in. There is a narrow walkway along the rocky ledge to get to the opening of the cave where you can look in, but I don't believe you can enter the cave. We walked out to see the puffins thinking we would visit the cave on the way back, but the puffins enthralled us (me) and we didn't allow enough time to climb down to the cave in somewhat slippery conditions. There was plenty of time for picture taking and admiring the puffins and the scenery. I'm guessing that perhaps the 1 hour visit might be to preserve the natural habitat of the wildlife.

If you do this tour, the next stop is Iona, and as you get off the boat there are small cafes and restrooms where you can get lunch.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks for the information Auchterless. Good to know as our September 2021 trip may be pushed to next spring/early summer, and if that is the case, I would like to include the trip to Iona and Staffa. 3 hrs - hmmm, perhaps I should pack the evening gown! Funny guy!!