Scotland's largest ferry operator, Caledonian MacBrayne, or CalMac Ferries as they are known locally, operate an extensive service from Oban. During the summer months the company offer a range of Day Trips from Oban including whale watching and a wildlife adventure tour.
Up to the minute information on sailing times, ticket prices and special deals can be obtained from the CalMac website or from their telephone enquiry line on +44 (0) 1475 650100.
Oban's closest island neighbour is Kerrera. The six and a half mile long island can be seen from most parts of the town. Because the island is home to only some 30 to 40 people the roads tend to be quiet, making it an ideal place for a walk or cycle. There are no shops on the island, but there is a tearoom.
The independently run Kerrera ferry is located about a mile south of Oban. The crossing takes only a few minutes and the ferry runs regularly on request throughout the summer, and 6 times a day during the winter. Alternatively there is a ferry from the North Pier in Oban to the Marina on Kerrera.
The Isle of Lismore lies in Loch Linnhe, at the southern end of the Great Glen. Its English name is taken from the Gaelic "Lios Mor", literally translated as Great Garden. And this gives a clue to why the Island is worth a visit. Throughout the year there is an ever-changing display of wild flowers crowding the roadsides and verges. And as if that wasn't enough, the island is also rich in historical sites, wildlife and magnificent views.
With a proper choice of ferries, you can have up to 6 hours ashore, which is an ideal introduction to the island. The ferry from Oban to Achnacroish on the island's south west takes about an hour, and carries a limited number of cars so booking in advance is advisable. Alternatively, leave the car in Oban and take a bike. The island is only about ten miles long and one mile wide so you will still be able to see a great deal. There is a cafe and historical centre which is well worth a visit.
For many visitors to Oban, the day trip to Iona is a high point of their holiday. The island from which Columba spread Christianity to Britain and Europe, is best visited by taking an inclusive excursion with a coach operator. (There are many to choose from, and the Oban Tourist Information Centre can provide names, prices, schedules etc.) Most tours include the ferry crossing to Craignure on Mull, a coach journey across the Ross of Mull and then another ferry to Iona where you can visit the Abbey and the burial place of many Scottish Kings. Sea and weather permitting, it is also possible to visit the Island of Staffa with its famous Fingal's Cave, and, in the early summer months, the island of Lunga to see the puffins.
For further information on Mull, Iona and Staffa, visit the Holiday Mull website.
The Isle of Coll is a real hidden gem amongst Scotland’s Hebridean islands. Situated around 40 miles West of Oban, and accessed via a 3 hour ferry journey, the island is off the beaten track and offers a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle on the mainland. With numerous sandy beaches and an abundance of wildlife, Coll rewards the intrepid explorer looking for an island adventure.
At around 13 miles long and 3 miles wide the Isle of Coll is a great size for getting out and about – big enough to find your own peace and quiet but small enough so that you won’t get lost! With a local population of just over 200 people, don’t be surprised if you choose a beach for the day and find that you have it all to yourself.
And not far from Coll is the windy island of Tiree.
Well known among windsurfers this flat island (almost a raised beach) hosts the Tiree Wave Classic each October and is world famous for its superb surf. Despite the wind (which is at its strongest in the winter) Tiree is blessed with the most hours of sunshine in the UK. Another festival success is the home grown Tiree Music Festival which has won 'Best Small Festival' and 'Best Cultural Event' - proof if needed that small can indeed be beautiful!
Another rewarding journey takes you south of Oban over the famous "Bridge over the Atlantic" to the Island of Seil, and by boat to Easdale Island with its fascinating history of the Scottish Slate industry.
Following the defeat of the Jacobite Army at Culloden and Bonnie Prince Charlie's subsequent flight from Scotland, the Government banned the use of the Gaelic language and the wearing of tartan and the kilt. The Islanders from Easdale and Seil would change from their traditional garb at the Inn beside the bridge before crossing to the mainland. The inn to this day is still known as 'Tigh an Truish' - "the house of the trousers".