Call of the Sea

Argyll is from the old Gaelic word 'Earraghail' which means 'coastline of the Gaels'. Then, the waters around Oban and Lorn were marine motorways transporting people and animals from islands to mainland. Now these same seas are a mecca for water sports enthusiasts with unrivalled sailing, sub-aqua diving, seakayaking and sea angling.

The beach at Ganavan, just a couple of miles from Oban town centre, is popular with locals and visitors alike. Once the home of World War II sea planes, Ganavan Bay now offers safe bathing for all the family and a separate launch slip for boats.

Oban pontoons. Image courtesy of Imagine Alba


Oban has several world renowned marinas with outstanding charter facilities for those who wish to explore Europe's finest unspoilt cruising grounds - including new pontoons off North Pier, where visiting yachts can tie up for a crew change and provisions or stay to enjoy everything Oban has to offer for up to three nights.

For longer stays, Oban Marina across the bay on scenic Kerrera offers a full array of yacht services and seasonal dining., complete with stunning views of Oban, the Firth and the mountains of Mull.

Oban Marina on the isle of Kerrera. Image courtesy of Imagine Alba

Oban celebrates all things sailing with a busy season of events. At the end of April, Easdale island hosts its annual RIB Rendezvous. This event is open to locals and visitors and is a RIB cruise in company. 

Then in May, the town is the starting point for the famous Scottish Islands Peaks Race which is a gruelling test of sailing skills and fell running stamina.

In early August the harbour is crowded with yachts taking part in the renowned Tunnocks West Highland Yachting Week.

For those interested in leisure sailing the Sail Scotland web site gives details of sailing holidays off the coast of Oban. There are several small charter companies listed in our Activities pages.

More information on sailing in the local waters can be had from Oban Sailing Club.

Occasionally you may see a cruise liner in the bay or, more spectacularly, anchored out in the Firth of Lorne, against the backdrop of the hills of Mull and Morvern. Visit our Cruise Ships page for details of which ships are visiting and when.

As the area is famous for its clear waters and a number of interesting wrecks, both ancient and modern, sub-aqua divers make it a starting point for their expeditions. See our diving pages for more information.

Some of the loveliest scenery is only accessible by boat. The cruise from the pier at Taynuilt to the head of Loch Etive is quite breath-taking, not only for the scenery but also for the wildlife which can be seen, in the water, on the shore and soaring in the skies.

Loch Etive is one of Scotland's most beautiful lochs. At its mouth stands the thirteenth century Dunstaffnage Castle on what is said to be the site of the capital of Dalriada - the original Kingdom of the Scots. It was here that the Stone of Destiny was kept until it was taken east by Kenneth MacAlpine, the first King of the united Picts and Scots. The Stone has recently been returned to Scotland after 700 years in Westminster Abbey, and can now been seen in Edinburgh Castle.

Oban is rightly proud of its reputation for superb sailing and with its new walk ashore pontoon facilities for small boat users and kayakers in the bay it is a natural marine tourism hub.