In the hotel, the lounges are well stocked with fiction and non-fiction, spotters guides and Scottish and island history. But with the advent of kindle, it is easy to carry a library with you. We do have wifi but our signal is not strong or consistent. Many guests enjoy the opportunity of being truly away from technology and TV to enjoy the beauty and peace of Iona.
The geology of Iona is distinct from Mull, and has some of the oldest rock on earth. Each beach has it’s own character and colours that range from grey, to red, green, white and pink. A visit to the Heritage Centre on Iona is well worth while. One ticket gives multiple entries and also gives a social history of the Island and is great for a rainy day.
Walking and hiking - you just need a map! Ask at reception for our simple walks guides. If you want to be guided on your walk David Alloway runs Iona Trails (www.ionatrails.com).
In terms of bikes some regulars bring their own but they can be hired from the Finlay Ross store in the village and we have some golf clubs that can be rented for a donation towards the Iona Housing Partnership. New for 2017! The Iona Craft Shop (www.ionacraftshop.com) have 8 new bikes for hire. Joyce and Linsay McIntyre at Skerryvore (www.skerryvore-iona.co.uk) continue to rent out bikes. Please contact them both directly.
Other things you might like to bring include kites, fishing rods, painting gear, telescopes, bird and flower spotting guides - the list can be endless!
For the enthusiastic golfer there is an 18 hole links course on the common grazing ground or machair to the west of the island. The golf course map is available at the Post Office in the village street. The Annual Open takes place every year to all comers on the second Friday of August. Golf clubs can be borrowed from the Argyll Hotel for a donation towards the Iona Defibrilators.
The pristine environment on Iona and Mull give rise to many wildlife spotting opportunities. Take a boat trip from Iona to Staff and Lunga to see puffins, fulmars and more nesting from May to late July. Basking sharks and dolphins can sometimes be seen on these boat trips. Watch out for otters at the South East and North End beaches and plummeting gannets in the sound. Dolphins and porpoises cruise the waters around Iona and can be seen playing sometimes in the bay in front of the hotel.
The elusive Corncrake with its rasping call attracts bird enthusiasts. New crofting practices have been instrumental in the increasing numbers of these endangered birds who come from Africa only to breed.
Wildlife tours can be picked up at Fionnphort (see links) and you can make a booking to view the nesting White Tailed Sea Eagles at Glen Seilisdeir guided by an RSPB ranger.
The Country Code
Lambing begins in March and nesting birds are on beaches and in dunes from April through August so please take additional care when walking especially with dogs. The Hotel has more detailed information in the Green File in the Sun Lounge. For more detailed information see the Scottish outdoor accesscode.
Historical and Ecclesiastical
Pilgrims have been travelling to Iona for 1500 years. Two millennia ago Iona was at the heart of the Dal Riata, the great sea kingdom of the Western Isles. St Columba arrived here in 563 A.D and his legacy continues to draw people from all over the world. Join the Community Pilgrimage that walks the Island once a week.
For information on the Abbey, The Nunnery, The Iona Community, The Catholic House of Prayer and the Parish church, see our links page.
Cultural and Artistic
The sheer magic of the environment has inspired generations of poets and writers such as Wordsworth, Keats, Sir Walter Scott, Louis Stevenson and artists such as the Scottish colourists, and the famous Celtic jeweller Alec Ritchie. The island continues to inspire creativity to the present day with our resident artist and silver smith Mhairi Killin, and the poet Kenneth Stevens.
We host writing workshops inspired by the Celtic Experience of wilderness and landscape and hope to be offering more in the future. Keep an eye on our current news and events.
You will need to make any specialist purchases before you arrive on Iona. There are plenty of opportunities for gift shopping from local artisans at: the Aosdana silver studio and gallery; The Iona Gallery and Pottery, selling both contemporary and original oil paintings; Oran Creative Crafts co-operative for local craftspeople; and The Iona Craft Shop for Scottish knitwear and gifts. The Iona Community Shop has a wide selection of fair trade goods and Wild Goose books and publications and finally there is a shop in the abbey run by Historic Scotland. See here for links.
Food and toiletries can be purchased at the Spar and Findlay Ross and we have a post office so you can postmark your cards from here.