The island is a combination of dramatic sea cliffs, mountain moorland and sweeping sandy bays borderd by crystal blue water. Most of the landscape is made up of rocks that are 1000 to 600 million years old.
It is the natural habitat of over 250 recorded bird species which include Golden Eagles, Hen Harriers, Choughs and Corncrakes. Between mid September and April, Islay is home to 50,000 Greenland Barnacle and Greater White Fronted Geese mainly at Loch Gruinart which is an RSPB nature reserve.
Also living around the island are deer, otters and seals. The islands at Ardmore are home to the second largest colony of common seals in Europe.
The Machrie runs along the majestic 7 mile Laggan Bay which is suitable for swimming. Ther are many beaches along the 130 mile coastline but those on the Atlantic coast have dangerous undercurrents so are unsuitable for swimming. This applies to the beautiful beaches at Machir and Saligo Bays.
The best way to see Islay is to walk whether inland on the moorland or along the unspoilt beaches. If walking is not for you, then pony trekking is also available.
The weather can alter very quickly so be prepared for sudden changes.