Whalsay | Yolanda Bruce

About

The Vikings knew the island of Whalsay as Hvals-øy – or 'The Island of Whales' – and it is clear to see why. The waters around the island are hot spots for viewing porpoises, minke whales and orca. The community on Whalsay remains heavily linked to the sea and is home port for some of the biggest fishing trawlers in Europe. Away from the bustle of the harbour, the island offers easy coastal walking, birds and flowers, great angling, and Britain's most northerly golf course.

Famous For

  • Symbister House (or the New Haa) is the finest Georgian mansion in Shetland. Visit the museum and heritage centre in the outbuildings to learn more about the island’s heritage.

  • The Hanseatic Bod interpretive centre on the shoreline is a picturesque old building which has been restored with its dock and cargo hoist.

  • The 18-hole golf course at Skaw, on the north-eastern tip of the island, is the most northerly course in Britain.

Ask an Islander

  • Whalsay is a popular island for anglers, with some fine trout inhabiting the lochs, the record being a 9lb 4oz brown trout from the Loch of Huxter. Permits required.

  • People have lived on Whalsay for at least 4,000 years. Traces of former settlements include hilltop burial cairns and prehistoric field boundaries as well as Neolithic houses.

  • Ducks and waders gather at the shallows behind the beach at Symbister and at the houb (lagoon) on Kirk Ness. Beachcombers will find plenty of interest too and, below the tideline, there is a profusion of sea life in the rock pools.

Accommodation

Check out the following accommodation listings to book your stay.

Visit Scotland accommodation

More Information

You can find some additional information about Whalsay at the links below

Promote Shetland

Shetland Heritage leaflet

COVID-19

Please check the latest rules on travelling to and around the Scottish islands on the Scottish Government website, including guidance on testing before you travel. Please note that advice may vary depending on the specific island you are visiting.

Getting here

Covid-19

Please check the latest rules on travelling to and around the Scottish islands on the Scottish Government website, including guidance on testing before you travel. Please note that advice may vary depending on the specific island you are visiting.


You can reach Whalsay via Mainland Shetland. Find out more about getting to Mainland Shetland.

Once you are on Mainland Shetland, take the ferry from Laxo (near Vidlin) to Symbister on Whalsay. Ferry operated by Shetland Ferries.

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.