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Tips for a Sustainable Travel Experience - Small Isles

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

Developing a strong sustainable approach to tourism is just one strand of an overall approach to a greener way of living on the Small Isles. From community owned renewable energy and shop ownership to an increasing focus on growing our own and eating seasonally, the Small Isles have a knowledge and passion for sustainability that we are proud of. Our designation as one of Scotland’s National Scenic Areas recognises the very special place we are lucky to call home. The beautiful landscape, wildlife, rich archeological heritage and geology are treasured by visitors and locals alike and we want to protect this for future generations.

Visitors are invited to play their part and help protect the natural environment and local culture and ensure that the communities of the Small Isles continue to thrive. We have compiled some ideas to help you have a more sustainable travel experience in keeping with the ethos of our way of life.

  • Consider how you get here. Discover the joy of the journey to get to the Small Isles. Taking the train or bus can leave a lighter footprint and allows you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the beautiful west highland scenery. Check out our travel guide for further information.

  • Visitors are not allowed to take cars to the islands (with specific exceptions) and there are very few cars on the islands themselves. This makes walking and cycling on the islands safe and fun. Consider taking your own bike, hiring one in Mallaig or if visiting Eigg, hiring from Eigg Adventures. (Please note that arrangements can be made with your accommodation provider to help you transport your luggage to your accommodation).

  • Drink our local water. Take a refillable bottle and fill up at your accommodation or at the various fill up points on the islands.

  • Calculate your carbon footprint for the trip and consider offsetting any emissions that you aren’t able to prevent.

  • Consider visiting us outwith the main tourist season to help the spread of visitors throughout the year. Check out our seasonal guide here. Stay longer and enjoy a more immersive travel experience in which you really get to know our communities. Consider a longer volunteering role in which you can become a ‘temporary local’. Workaway details different opportunities on several of the islands, Nature Scot often has volunteering opportunities on Rum and get in touch with the National Trust for Scotland for opportunities on Canna.

  • Be conscious of your energy consumption whilst staying on the isles.

  • Buy local, eat local and support local. Whether it be buying a trip memento from a local crafts person or hiring a local guide, income from visitors supports local businesses, generates jobs and helps our communities to thrive.

Everyone can help keep the Small Isles special and #RespectProtectEnjoy Scotland. Thank you for doing your bit.

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