- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Follow in the footsteps of generations of saints, holy men, and pilgrims. Despite its tiny size, Iona stands large in history as the site where Christianity arrived in Scotland, brought from Ireland by Saint Columba. Arriving in a pagan wilderness at Port na Curaich, St. Columba began to preach on the site where the Abbey of Iona would be built. Parts of the Abbey complex date to around 800 A.D., making it one of the oldest Christian sites in Western Europe; relics stored in the excellent Abbey Museum tell the fascinating story of this isle. Centuries of Viking raids, geographic isolation, and the Scottish Reformation led the abbey to fall into disrepair until the buildings were transferred to the ownership of the Iona Cathedral Trust in 1899, beginning the long and arduous process of rebuilding. Today the island is a popular destination for those seeking the tranquility of its crystal-clear sapphire seas and wild green hills, as well as modern-day pilgrims seeking the wisdom of this ancient site. Your visit entails a walk around the small town and free time around the Abbey. To reach the Abbey, pass through the charming village of Iona (more frequently known simply as "the village,", which hosts several galleries, shops, and cafes.
The Isle of Iona is also a great place to hike and has a wide range of natural habitats that are home to several rare species, such as the hard-to-find corncrake.
Return to the ship for lunch, and the ship leaves for the island of Lunga.
The tiny, uninhabited Isle of Lunga sits amid the Treshnish Isles, a set of rugged rocks west of the Isle of Mull. The island has been assigned the special designation of Site of Special Area of Conservation due to its abundant wildlife. Residents left the island during the Highland Clearances, leaving Lunga to be reclaimed by nature, and today it hosts one of the largest seabird colonies in the Scottish Isles. In a gash in the rocks, thousands of guillemots and razorbills cluster on rocky perches, while iridescent shags and puffins claim nests and burrows on the grassy slopes above. The birds here have never been hunted and exhibit a remarkable fear of people. Move slowly and quietly to be rewarded with some of Scotland's most intimate nature encounters with these charismatic feathered friends.
Note: This activity is designated as moderate; the landing on the rocky beach is not suitable for those with mobility issues.
After your afternoon visit, continue northbound towards St. Kilda.