The Small Isles are an archipelago of islands in the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland. Although closely situated, the 4 main populated islands - Canna, Eigg, Muck and Rum - differ greatly in landscape and history. They each hold their own wonders and provide plenty of opportunities for families to get back to nature. From rockpooling to fishing, dolphin spotting to island hopping, help create memories that children will treasure for the rest of their lives with our 10 suggestions for fun family adventures on the Small Isles.
Start the adventure before you’ve even arrived. There are a few travel options to the Small Isles (check out our travel guide here) but for the best wildlife spotting opportunities, we recommend sailing on the MV Sheerwater which runs out of Arisaig (however note that this boat does not sail to Canna). Look out for various marine species including minke whales and dolphins and the always present grey seals. Journeys may well take longer than scheduled if there are good sightings of marine wildlife.
Hire bikes from Eigg Adventures and cycle over to the Singing Sands on the north- western part of Eigg. Listen to the quartz sand sing underfoot on dry days and enjoy a picnic whilst marvelling at the views over to mountainous Rum.
Join a guided walk on the Isle of Canna with the National Trust for Scotland Ranger. Learn more about the natural and archaeological heritage of Canna in a kid friendly manner. Follow that with a bit of rock pooling on the shore. Wait for low tide and look for shady, sheltered spots, and patterns in the sand which can be an indication that something interesting lurks beneath.
Charter a boat (MV Lochan) around the Small Isles and see if you can spot dolphins and other sealife. Contact Colin MacEwen (Isle of Muck) for prices/ availability t: 01687 462362 email@example.com
Visit the Isle of Rum Otter Hide to watch for otters. Other sightings from the hide include porpoises, minke whales, dolphins and sea eagles. Check out the laminated guide and bird ID book to correctly identify any wildlife you might see.
Sign up for Eigg Feis. Held every year at the start of July, the Feis is a 3 day celebration of Gaelic culture. This family event offers children the chance to receive expert tuition in a variety of instruments (experience not always necessary). The festival ends with a family ceilidh where you can dance the night away.
Visit the puffin stack on the Isle of Canna or more accurately on the adjacent island of Sanday which can be reached by bridge at the top end of the bay. Walk around the Bay to the church and head south towards the highest point and the large stack known as Dun Mor. There is a large colony of puffins here and you can get excellent views of puffin ‘murmurations’ in the late afternoon/ early evening.
Pick up some home baking and sandwiches at the Isle of Muck tearoom and head over to the white sandy bay of Gallanach for a picnic and some rock pooling.
The Small Isles have very little light pollution which makes them fantastic for dark sky viewing. Grab a blanket and a thermos and head outside to take in the milky way, constellations and if you are very lucky the aurora borealis. Rum bunkhouse is running an immersive stargazing weekend in October this year (appropriate for teenagers). Check here for more details.
For older children/ teenagers - climb An Sgurr on the Isle of Eigg (5 miles) for amazing views over the Small Isles and beyond or complete the Isle of Muck coastal circuit (8.75 miles) with white sandy beaches and the chance to spot a variety of wildlife from the shore.