Fair Isle ranked fifth best island in the world

Fair Isle, which lies between Shetland and Orkney, has been ranked fifth in a list of the world's top islands
Fair Isle, which lies between Shetland and Orkney, has been ranked fifth in a list of the world's top islands
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Fair Isle has been rated fifth- best island in the world, ahead of the likes of Tahiti and Capri.

The windswept Shetland island was given the accolade by the magazine National


Its top ten islands list was compiled by travel writer Leslie Thomas, who wrote: “Fair Isle is the most isolated inhabited island in Britain. It is home to only about 70 people, but hundreds of thousands of birds reside here as well.

“Most of the visitors to this wild and wonderful place are birdwatchers. Sheep placidly graze on the steeply angled meadows.”

The island, located halfway between Orkney and Shetland, has been in the care of the

National Trust for Scotland since 1954.

Alexander Bennett, group manager for the trust’s Countryside and Islands North, said: “This is an amazing accolade for Fair Isle – a place of outstanding natural beauty, supported by a thriving and committed community. We hope this exposure encourages more people to make the trip to sample Fair Isle’s unique charms, wonderful wildlife and warm welcome.”

The island is only three miles long and one and a half miles wide, but it is a busy crofting community with a thriving traditional crafts industry. Fair Isle knitwear originated on the island and it is still the only place in the world producing the genuine article.

A VisitScotland spokesman said: “This is a truly international list. It is great to see Scotland represented in such an internationally renowned publication on a list of islands from every corner of the globe.

“For an island relatively small in terms of size, it certainly stands head and shoulders above many others with its scenery and wealth of nature, particularly birdwatching, where huge numbers of birds attract visitors year after year.”

The full list of National Geographic’s Top Ten Islands puts Nantucket in Massachusetts in first place.

It is followed by the Isles of Scilly, Saba in Netherlands West Indies, and then the Canary Islands in Spain, before Fair Isle.

In sixth place is Lord Howe Islands in Australia, followed by Capri, Italy, the American Channel Islands, Tahiti in French Polynesia, and finally the Islands of the Andaman Sea, Thailand.


1. Nantucket, Massachusetts

2. Isles of Scilly, Britain

3. Saba, Netherlands West Indies

4. Canary Islands, Spain

5. Fair Isle, Scotland

6. Lord Howe Islands, Australia

7. Capri, Italy

8. Channel Islands, United States

9. Tahiti, French Polynesia

10. Islands of the Andaman Sea, Thailand