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About Islay

The island

Islay is the fifth-largest Scottish island, with an area of 239 square miles, running 25 miles from north to south, and 15 miles from east to west. The most southerly of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, it is situated on the western side of the Kintyre peninsula, and about 25 miles north of Northern Ireland. The island of Jura is just a few hundred yards to the east, separated by the Sound of Islay, and is reachable via a five-minute ferry crossing.

Islay’s capital is Bowmore, located at the heart of the island, and on the shore of Loch Indaal, with Port Ellen, Port Charlotte and Portnahaven the main other settlements. The population of the island stood at 18,000 by the early 19th century, but now the figure is a little over 3,000.

There are two main ports on the island – Port Ellen and Port Askaig – and there is also a small airport that flies passengers to Glasgow, Oban and Colonsay. Agriculture is by far the biggest industry on Islay, but fishing, tourism and, of course, the whisky industry, all play their part.

  • Beinn Bheigeir summit, Islay’s highest point

    491 metres
  • Shipwrecks around Islay’s coastline