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Exploring the Island of Staffa & Seeing the Puffins

Exploring the Island of Staffa & Seeing the Puffins

The Isle of Staffa is one of Scotland’s most unique places to explore. The island is completely uninhabited by humans, meaning the natural environment of Staffa has flourished without interruption for as long as it has existed!

Before we delve into how and when to see Staffa’s famous Puffin population, we’ll provide an overview of the island with some lesser-known pieces of information to help prepare you for your visit the best we can.

Wildlife in Staffa

Famous for its wildlife, the Isle of Staffa hosts a wealth of fascinating species, all living life in their natural habitat. You’ve likely clicked on this article to discover more about their puffin population, but did you know you can also see the following animals on your visit:

The Isle of Staffa is truly a wildlife lover’s dream destination. There aren’t many places where you can experience some of the most interesting creatures found in Scotland, up close, without restriction, and in abundance.

There are various highly rated and affordable tours of Staffa, all of which will focus heavily on the wildlife of Staffa. If you choose a tour, you’ll be guided around Staffa by highly knowledgeable experts, ensuring you get the most out of your time there.

We’ll discuss these tours more in detail later in the article.

Geological Formations & Fingal’s Cave

Although the Isle of Staffa is known for its incredible wildlife, there’s another element of the island that attracts 1000s of visitors each year – its unique geological formations and the historic Fingal’s Cave.

The Isle of Staffa is home to unique geological formations, including basalt cliffs and sea stacks. These mesmerising natural structures can be found all across the island and are the result of a volcanic eruption that formed the island an estimated 59 million years ago.

However, one of the most notable features of the Isle of Staffa is Fingal’s Cave – a natural wonder that’s acted as one of the primary reasons to visit the island.

Since its discovery in 1772 by Sir Joseph Banks, a botanist and naturalist, the cave has been draped in history. Back in the day, many believed the cave to be connected to the famous Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. The reason for its connection? So the two giants – Finn McCool and Benandonner – could battle each other.

Puffins on Staffa

If you are planning a visit to the Isle of Staffa, you’ll likely know of the unique opportunity to see the beautiful puffins in their natural habitat.

Below, we’ll provide some helpful information on Staffa and their puffins.

What are Puffins?

In case you haven’t heard of Staffa’s puffins and are unsure about what type of animal puffins are, we’re here to help!

Puffins, also known as sea parrots, are small seabirds that belong to the auk family. They’re easily recognised by their brightly coloured beaks and their well-known black and white coats.

These charming birds are excellent swimmers and divers, using their wings to “fly” underwater to catch their favourite meal of small fishes, including herring, hake, capelin, and more.

The puffin population on Staffa is part of a larger colony that breeds on the nearby Treshnish Isles. During the breeding season, which typically runs from April to late July, thousands of puffins flock to the shores to mate, lay eggs, and raise their young.

Where are Puffins Found on Staffa?

When you arrive on Staffa’s shores, you’ll be met with a set of stairs. We recommend getting to the front of the queue before going ashore, as these stairs can get very busy during the high season.

Once you’ve climbed the introductory flight of stairs, you’ll want to walk northeast to see the puffins. In case you’ve forgotten your compass, the island kindly provides a path, taking you anticlockwise around the island. Simply follow the path until you see the pink buoy which signals you’ve reached the area for the puffins.

It’s worth noting that when visiting the puffins, they might not be ashore which can be the downside to seeing them in their natural habitat.
The experts at Staffa Trips say that the best time to see the puffins is throughout the months of April, May, June, and July. They also say that they can be seen in the air on most trips, but if you wish to see them ashore, you’re best to visit the island from late April onwards; however, this does come with some patience and luck!

How to Get to Staffa

Now we have an overview of the island and a guide on how to see the famous puffins, how do you get to Staffa? To help as many people as we can, we’ll discuss the ways in which you can reach Staffa from Oban, Mull, and Iona.

Getting to Staffa From Oban

If you’re travelling to Staffa from somewhere on the Scottish mainland, such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, or Aberdeen, you’ll be departing from our beautiful coastal town, Oban.

Known as the ‘The Gateway to the Isles’, Oban is the stopping point for many visitors travelling to the islands.

If you’re travelling from Oban, our luxury, boutique hotel is the perfect place to make the most out of your time here. We’re dog-friendly, so if you’re travelling with your four-legged friend, we’re the best place to stay!

To reach Staffa from Oban, you’ll board the Calmac ferry to Mull’s port village of Craignure. From here, you can take a boat to Staffa from Fionnphort or Tobermory.

We recommend choosing Staffa Tours or Tarus Mara if you’re travelling from Oban. They’ll organise every aspect of your journey, from your ferry to Craignure, your bus to Fionnphort, and the boat to Staffa. Opting for a tour guide will also provide you with valuable knowledge and expertise offered by their team.

Getting to Staffa From Mull

If you find yourself in Mull, Staffa Tours can take you to the island from both Fionnphort and the capital of Mull, Tobermory. The burgh of Tobermory is famous for its colourful buildings, great food and drink, and for being home to the much-loved children’s TV show, Balamory.

Explore Staffa Tour’s website to find out when boats are scheduled to depart from each of these ports.

Alternatively, you can depart from the Ulva Ferry port, near Oskamull, with Tarus Mara.

Getting to Staffa From Iona

You also have the option to get a boat from Iona to Staffa. This is a fantastic route, especially if you have time to spend time on the gorgeous island of Iona (read our complete guide to Iona by clicking here).

There are two tour companies that offer boats from Iona – Staffa Tours and Staffa Trips. Schedules will often change, so we recommend visiting their website directly to help plan your trip.


We hope the above information helps you with planning your trip to Staffa. We highly recommend taking the day to visit the beautiful island and experience the natural beauty– it’ll be a truly memorable experience.

If you’re travelling from the mainland, don’t forget what our town of Oban can offer. There’s plenty to explore here, so why not make room in your itinerary and spend a few days discovering our incredible restaurants and bars, historic landmarks, and eye-opening walking trails.

While here, you can treat yourself to a luxury stay in our hotel. If you’re interested, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our team – we’ll be more than happy to answer any question you may have.