Sanday | Colin Nutt

Island intro

Known as the ‘Jewel of the Isles’ because of the richness of its archaeology, Sanday in Orkney has an abundance of wildlife, glittering seas and spectacular skies.

Ask an Islander

What makes Sanday special? We asked locals – here’s what they said:

The thriving community has its own artists’ studio trail and a 9-hole golf course. The island’s more recent history can be uncovered with a visit to the remains of the Second World War radar station at Whalehead.

Sanday is one of the most archaeologically rich islands in Orkney’s Northern Isles, with around 5,000 years of human occupation represented on the island. Quoyness chambered cairn dates from the Neolithic period, while other important sites include the Scar Viking boat burial.

The Bronze Age Meur Burnt Mound was moved from the beach at Meur in the north of the island as it was at risk from the sea. It was reconstructed in the field next to the Heritage Centre.

The distinctive Start Point Lighthouse, with its vertical black and white stripes, was the first Scottish lighthouse to have a revolving light and is very different to the usual lighthouses you see around Scotland.

The island was home to Walter Traill Dennison, the 19th-century folklorist who recorded tales in his native dialect, and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, composer and Master of the Queen’s Music.

The island’s sweeping sandy bays, with their white sands and turquoise waters, might be the reason behind the island’s name, but its coastline includes windswept dunes, secluded rockpool-filled shores, and rugged cliffs where seabirds and wildflowers abound.

One of the island’s more unusual buildings, the Hearsie Hoose, is a small stone building in the north end of the island, that houses the island’s horse-drawn hearse.

Getting Here

Orkney Ferries operates daily sailings to Sanday from Kirkwall on Mainland Orkney. Some sailings go via Eday.

Loganair operates regular flights between Sanday and Kirkwall on Mainland Orkney. Flights may go via Stronsay.

Find out more about getting to Mainland Orkney. 

Explore More

Want to find out more about Sanday and explore more of our amazing islands?

Download the free Scottish Islands Passport app to:

  • discover your perfect island match,
  • find out about the experiences each island has to offer,
  • collect passport stamps for the islands you visit,
  • find information on accommodation, travel and island amenities.

Get Your Passport

You can find lots more information about things to see and do on the island, see some amazing island photography and collect your island stamp by downloading our app.

Download the app

App in phone

Download the Scottish Island Passport app to collect your island stamps! The app also provides lots more information on each island including recommendations from locals about things to see and do, info on how to get around, more stunning photos and useful offline maps.

  • Unlock Stamps - Collect them all! Stamp your passport when you visit each island - with an individual stamp designed to represent a unique aspect of island heritage.
  • Experiences - Discover the best experiences each island has to offer – from local boat trips to exciting traditional festivals, there is something for everyone.
  • Maps - Navigate the islands with useful offline maps, handy for areas where internet connectivity is weak.
  • Travel Jounals - Create an in-location travel journal with pictures from your island adventures, to look back on your trip.
  • Favourites - keep track of your most loved islands with the favourites feature. Available to access from your account on both the app and web.