The Island of Staffa lies about five and a half nautical miles to the north of Iona. It is famous for its dramatic rock formations, nesting puffins and for the cave known as ‘Fingal’s Cave’. Staffa provided inspiration to Felix Mendelssohn, the German composer. He visited in 1829 and, afterwards, composed his ‘Hebrides Overture’. It can be reached by boat from Iona and a round trip takes 2.5-3 hours. Two operators offer trips: Gordon Grant Marine's 'Staffa Tours' and Davie Kirkpatrick’s ‘Staffa Trips’. Mark Jardine’s ‘Alternative Boat Hire’ often sails past Staffa en route to the Treshnish Isles but doesn’t usually land.
A variety of seabirds can be seen on the journey and passengers often get the chance to view seals and occasionally dolphins and porpoises. If you are very lucky and visit in June, July or August, you might encounter a whale or basking shark! Boat crews are knowledgeable and can help you identify what’s around you. Before landing at Staffa, you can listen to a short commentary describing the most dramatic rock formations and caves. Once ashore, you’ll have about an hour to explore Fingal’s Cave on foot and visit the puffin colony (early April–late July).
The topography of Staffa means that it isn’t suitable for wheelchairs, however, passengers with limited mobility will be made welcome on boats and will usually be given the opportunity to see a bit more of Staffa by boat if they aren’t able to, or decide not to, go ashore.