Iona, Scotland Cruise Port
For a retreat from the hustle of everyday life, cruising to Iona, Scotland is the perfect solution. A small island off the southwest coast of Scotland's Ross of Mull, Iona was once the center of Gaelic monasticism. This movement helped found Iona around the year 563 with assistance from Irish monk Saint Columba, although settlements date to at least the Iron Age (which may go as far back as 1200 B.C.). The island’s size, fewer than two miles wide and three miles long, and its population of around 120 people go a long way toward creating a peaceful, tranquil getaway. The island’s name is the source of much speculation, ranging from "yew-place" to "island of the den of the fox" to "island of the cave." Regardless of origin, Iona is rich in history and natural beauty. Here are some of our favorite experiences for the cruise port of Iona, Scotland:
- A popular site for religious pilgrimage, the graveyard of the historic Iona Abbey is said to house the remains of a number of Scottish, Irish, French, and Norwegian kings. Although these claims are suspect, the abbey is a gorgeous piece of architecture featuring amazing carvings on the cloisters.
- Believed to be the spot where Columbia and his band of monks landed in 563, St. Columba's Bay begins a fantastic walk across the island. The hike may be rugged in spots, so good shoes are a must. Keep an eye out for wildlife, enjoy the ocean view, and stop to smell the wildflowers along the way.
- What's Scotland without a golf course? Of course, a golf course on a tiny island has sheep. The popular Machair is a large, grassy expanse where you're just as likely to find people wandering and enjoying the day as playing golf. It's also a great spot for birdwatchers.
- Even for a small island, Iona has a number of beaches; one of the best is Port Ban Beach, where its white sands and clear, shallow waters are a great place to swim and relax. There are also some nearby caves to explore if you're feeling adventurous.