Scottish Island Hopping Holidays

Where to Camp

Why not try island hopping in one of our campers?

Here’s where to park up for the night

Scottish island hopping holidays – the perfect adventure for those who want to see more of Scotland and get off the beaten track. With the freedom that a campervan gives you, you can explore the beautiful landscapes of the Scottish Islands at your own pace. There are four main groups of Scottish Islands – Shetland, Orkney and the Inner and Outer Hebrides. However when most people think of island hopping holidays they usually focus on the Hebrides as they are not as remote as Orkney and Shetland and its much easier to hop from island to island.

Scottish island hopping slow travel scotland

Big Sky Campers Guide to Scottish Island Hopping Holidays

The Hebrides are subdivided into two groups. The Inner Hebrides include Skye, Islay, Jura, Mull and Iona. And the Outer Hebrides which include Harris, Lewis, Barra and Uist. Not all the islands have many camping facilities, a campervan is a great way to have a Scottish island hopping holiday. You won’t have to depend on finding a campsite or a shop open when you arrive. However, always check the regulations about campervans for each individual island you intend to visit as they all differ.  For instance, Colonsay is actively against campervans and motorhomes camping on the island whereas Harris has a permit application to allow you to camp in designated areas.

Please Camp Considerately

Island communities have been overwhelmed by visitors in recent years and because the islands are beautiful this seems set to last.  We ask that customers of Big Sky Campers respect these communities and are considerate when they park up for the night.  Please make sure you are not in a car park designated for local access (eg to a church or graveyard, site of historical or geological interest etc).  If you aren’t sure where to stop then the best thing to do is to ask at a local pub or shop and hope to be guided to an area where you can relax and enjoy the island.

Plan ahead when visiting the Scottish Islands

Everyone loves the idea of the freedom of hopping from island to island but these are increasingly popular holiday destinations so if you are intending to travel to the islands then make sure you are not disappointed – you will need to book a ferry through Calmac. It’s also a good idea to book yourself a space at a campsite before turning up. Many of the campsites are quite small and the islands seem to get busier each year. Also check the facilities that campsites offer before you turn up. Some of these campsites are quite simple and won’t have shops or many other facilities available. You may need to bring supplies with you, at least for the first night.

Campervan trip to Skye

Island time is different from mainland time so it is a good idea to arrive on any given island prepared with some food and fuel.  There is likely to be a shop and some islands have really well stocked community shops which are great to support but they will have limited opening hours.  Don’t worry too much as there is bound to be a local pub with good food too.

The less populated the island is the less facilities there are likely to be.  You may decide to visit Islay which has two small towns with shops, hotels and a local swimming pool but if you decide to pop across to Jura you will find a community shop and a great pub/hotel and a cafe.  You can buy fuel but you need to pick up a key for the pump from the hotel!

Skye

There are two ways to get to Skye. You can either take the ferry from Mallaig or drive across the Skye Bridge. If you want to take the ferry it is best to book ahead as Skye is enormously popular. If you want to take the ferry to Skye in the summer months and bring a campervan, book several months ahead. Skye has become enormously popular in recent years and now attracts over 600,000 visitors a year. Not bad for an island with around 13,000 permanent residents.

It’s not hard to see why, Skye is absolutely stunning. However, if you are dreaming of a Scottish island hopping holiday where you arrive to a deserted shoreline, visit Skye in the Spring. These are the driest months, it is opening up after the winter break and there won’t be so many tourists. There are around 10 campsites on Skye and the best ones get booked up early. Take a look at our guide to camping on Skye to find the best ones.

Isle of Skye viewpoints Storr

Jura

There is no official campsite on Jura however the Jura Hotel field fills up with tents over the summer months. There are also a number of coves and bays you could spend the night at, one being Corran Sands. Keep to the edges of the grassy plain as it doubles as an airfield. If you sleep here you will wake up to views of the Paps of Jura. Stunning. Please camp responsibly and make sure you leave no trace of your camp behind you. The Jura car ferry runs from Kennacraig on the Scottish mainland or Port Askaig on Jura. You can find links to ferry details here.

Remote Jura Scottish Islands

Mull

Salen Bay Campsite

Totally off the beaten track and with easy access to the sea and hills around it, this beautiful and new campsite is a perfect place to stop for a few nights. They also offer rental of paddle boards and kayaks and are very close to local amenities.

Scottish island hopping holidays tobermory

Lewis

There are a couple of stunning grazing spots that double as campsites.  No facilities (public loos) and no hook-ups.  Who cares when the scenery is as good as this?

Scottish island hopping holidays beach Lewis

Uist

Balranald Campsite

This is a small family run campsite in the heart of a crofting community on North Uist.  The site is situated in the RSPB’s Balranald Nature Reserve so you will be able to enjoy an abundance of bird life.  You will also be able to see the Monarch Isles and St Kilda.

Scottish island hopping holidays Uist

Harris

There are some wonderful independent campsites – here are a couple of our favourites.

Lickisto Blackhouse Camping

Set in picturesque scenery and from where you can see an abundance of wildlife such as seals, otters and eagles, this campsite has washing, cooking and laundry facilities available in a historic Blackhouse.

Horgabost Campsite

This site doesn’t take bookings but has lots of pitches, including 50 for motorhomes, so there is usually space. It is set right by the beach and surrounded by beautiful views and has good facilities. There is a beach shop open in the evenings and a mobile shop twice weekly. Campfires are allowed.

A full list of all the places and the facilities available for camping on Harris can be found here. According to their website, they are accepting bookings for 2021. As with all the island communities, they are worried about the impact of Covid so are encouraging people to take a Covid test before travelling to the islands.

Scottish island hopping holidays lakes

Getting to the Scottish Islands

Ferry timetables are seasonal as you would expect. You can check all the details of ferry services on the Caledonian McBrayne website. You can also book tickets or an island hopping ticket on this website. It is possible to visit the islands out of season but there will be fewer crossings. Some ferries offer a turn up and sail service but it is always possible to book ahead. Campsites are also seasonal. Most will be closed by the end of October and some may close a little earlier. They tend to open up again from March, but do check with the individual campsites.

Big Sky Campers Campervans for Hire

Scotland

All our campervans for hire come fully equipped with everything you will need for your Scottish island hopping holiday. They are fully insulated and heated and have fully equipped kitchens. Big Sky Campers campervan rental prices are fullly inclusive of everything you will need for a campervanning holiday in Scotland. This includes unlimited mileage, gas for the cooker, kitchen equipment, cutlery, crockery, bedding, towels, outdoor furniture, and solar showers and bike racks (if requested at the time of booking). The only additional charge is for the hire of a portaloo. Everything is included in the price, including extra sets of bedding if requested. 

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