The Beginner’s Guide to Staffa

The beautifully rugged island of Staffa 6 miles west of Mull is somewhere truly special and breath-taking to visit. Only 82 acres in size, the Inner Hebrides island was formed from volcanic rock and is believed to have been once part of a larger Mull.

Beginners guide staffa

Completely uninhabited for centuries, its wild and rugged beauty is left solely to the variety of birds that nest there, including puffins and gulls, and to the seals, basking sharks and pilot whales that frequent its waters.

Having experienced the height of fame during the Victorian era when even Queen Victoria herself visited, Staffa is still as stunning and intriguing a place to visit as it was then. It finds its particular charm in its stunning rock formations that were formed millennia ago, the most famous of which is Fingal’s Cave.

Fingal’s Cave is a sea cave on the island that was romantically named after the hero Fionn mac Cumhaill of an 18th century Scots poem written by James Macpherson, and is truly a spectacular site to behold.  Formed from natural hexagonal jointed basalt columns, the Isle of Staffa is Scotland’s giant’s causeway –  it is actually part of the same geologic rock formation as Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway, created as part of a volcanic eruption 55–58 million years ago. As the molten lava slowly cooled it contracted towards each of a series of equally spaced centres and solidified into the famous hexagonal columns. Think of it as a similar process as how soft mud drying out at the bottom of a puddle eventually cracks into segments.

The image below shows the enormous basalt columns on Staffa – you will walk across these on your way to Fingals Cave as part of the Three Isles Tour.

staffa basalt cliffs

With its naturally arched roof, size and eerie wave echoes, its atmosphere and appearance is similar to that of a cathedral. In fact it has even inspired its own music with Mendelssohn creating the beautiful ‘Hebrides Overture’ in honour of the stunning cave.

Aside from Fingal’s Cave, there are also beautiful views looking across to Iona too. Visiting Staffa is a must do when you are touring the Inner Hebrides, but be careful that you time it right. Due to the often wild and stormy northern Atlantic weather, it is only possible to visit the island between May and September.

West Coast Tours offers you the chance to visit the beautiful and untamed Staffa as part of their Three Isles Tours which also includes Mull and Iona. Tour Staffa and the wild beauty of the Inner Hebrides in total comfort at a great price, and know that you won’t miss any of the spectacular scenery or abundant wildlife (including puffins!).