Best Secret Islands on Earth
A 2 1/2-hour ferry ride from the west-coast whisky town of Oban takes you to this remote Hebridean island. Sheep far outnumber people, and those who have made the wildflower-carpeted island home are the sort of characters who would have inspired Robert Burns. There’s the naturalist Kevin Byrne (44-1951/200-320; colonsayguide.co.uk; walks for two from $32), who can name every buzzard flying near the mile-long sands of Kiloran Bay, or proprietor Mike McNicholl of the General Store (44-1951/200-265; colonsayshop.net), who’ll tell you about the dolphins he just saw and sell you a bottle of Laphroaig. The Howard family owns the Colonsay Hotel (44-1951/200-316; colonsayestate.co.uk; doubles from $160), a nine-room Georgian inn built in 1750, with white pebble-dashed walls, sloping slate roofs, and spare furnishings. You can meet all the locals at the village hall for Saturday’s weekly ceilidh dance, as authentic a gathering as you’ll find in the British Isles.
T+L Tip: For a customized tour of neighboring Jura’s legendary whisky distillery, contact David Tobin of Dream Escape (dreamescape.co.uk). —Heidi Mitchell