9 Scottish islands you can kayak to

Enjoy an offshore adventure with one of these island expeditions.
Scotland's unique islands are popular with sea kayakers (Photo: Shutterstock)Scotland's unique islands are popular with sea kayakers (Photo: Shutterstock)
Scotland's unique islands are popular with sea kayakers (Photo: Shutterstock)

The coast of mainland Scotland is surrounded by 790 islands, each unique in character in beauty.

The ideal way to reach - and indeed explore - many of these island paradises is by kayak. The narrow vessel can provide paddlers a unique perspective of remarkable coastal features and unparallelled access to hidden coves and bays.

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If you own a kayak and possess the necessary experience to navigate open and potentially dangerous waters then there's nothing to stop you from embarking on your very own sea voyage.

Tanera Mor and Tanera Beag

This pair of islands are worth a visit for their magnificent views alone, with iconic Assynt peaks Suilven and Stac Pollaidh both visible from their shores. Home to a light scattering of homesteads, a post office and a cafe, Tanera Mor is the bigger of the two isles and best reached from Old Dornie Pier in Achiltibuie.

Once you land at Tanera Mor you can opt to explore the pint-size island by foot or visit its slighter neighbour Tanera Beag. Tanera Beag is the prettier of the two islands and possesses a fascinating cave on its southwest coast which can be visited by intrepid paddlers.


This compact island accesible from Oban is steeped in fascinating Scottish history and blessed with edenlike beauty. Its most fascinating feature is Gylen Castle, a ruined fortress where King Alexander II of Scotland spent his final days succumbing to a fever.

To reach the historical isle, set off from Oban seafront and either dock by Gallanach Road or if conditions are calm and you have enough stanima explore the entirety of the island's coastline.

Raasay and Rona

While the neigbouring Isle of Skye is bloated with visitors from around the world, these two island remain explored by only a select few. This is not because the pair of islands lack beauty - both Raasay and Rona boast rugged terrain and a fascinating variety of geological features. They both also serve as a hotbed for Scottish wildlife with seals, dolphins and puffins all regularly spotted in the Atlantic waters.

Kayakers with time on their hand can explore both coastlines at close quarters by setting off from Sconser on the Isle of Skye.


This island wilderness off the north coast of Scotland is the most southerly of the islands which nestle in the Pentland Firth between the Orkney Isles and Caithness.

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Once home to a buzzing community, the remote isle is now uninhabited by humans, with ruins scattered across the island - wildlife, however, continues to thrive.

Surrounded by wild seas, Stroma is difficult to reach and expeditions to the northern out post must only be taken on during calm conditions and by advanced kayakers. If you are lucky enough to hold such skills then the island is well worth a visit. In particular the Castle Mestag sea stack once inhabited by Norse king is worth a visit.


Jutting out of the Firth of Forth the uninhabited isle of Inchkeith is a familiar site to Fifers and citizens of Edinburgh. Few who live on the banks of the River Forth, however, pay the island a visit.

Capital and Fife-based kayakers can easily reach the island by setting off from Portobello - though before setting off adventurers should request permission to visit.

Once Inchkeith is reached keen paddlers can do a lap of the island or board and explore the ruins which dot its shores. Among the ruins are bomb shelters erected during World War Two.

Eilean Nan Ron and the Rabbit Islands

Located just off the country's incomparable north coast this group of isles are a relatively short paddle from Talmine beach on the mainland.

Trasnlating as Isle of the Seals, Eilean Nan Ron is often swarming with seals who return in autumn on an annual basis to pup. The island's coastline is well worth exploring with steep cliffs and a natural arch among the features encountered during a visit.

On your return to the shores of Sutherland its also worth landing at the Rabbit Islands inhabited by a small group of their namesake.