Visiting Staffa is “Oh So” Epic
Confession: I’m a bit of a princess. Sure, I slept in a tent for two weeks in Canada and lived without running water on Utklippan, but I’m still a sucker for fancy steak dinners and Jimmy Choo sunglasses. And let’s face it. I don’t like feeling sweaty, sleeping late is an ideal situation for me, random gifts make me smile til my dimples hurt, and the thought of not dyeing my hair terrifies me. I guess it’s not surprising that travel pushes my boundaries in more ways than one. Visiting Staffa definitely pushed my boundaries. A loooooooot.
So what’s the deal with Staffa? Why did a 3 hour round trip to this tiny Scottish island test me and my push limitations to their core? To put it bluntly: lots of rain, lots of relentless waves, and lots of mud. I don’t remember the last time my boots were so slick.
Let’s take a step back for a second. How did I get so muddy and wet? Well I knew I wanted to visit Staffa on my trip to Scotland. I mean, Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland blew my mind. So I expected the towering hexagonal rocks on Staffa to inspire same reaction.
Plus puffins lived on Staffa. I wanted to see puffins. I couldn’t visit Scotland and not see puffins. Yes, I’m obsessed with these adorable little birds.
Disclaimer time. Reaching Staffa isn’t super easy. If you’re staying on the mainland, Oban is probably the best place to base yourself for a simpler voyage. Ferries run regularly between Oban and Mull, the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides. The crossing takes roughly an hour. As for me, I rolled out of bed (cough way too early in the morning cough), and boarded a large ferry for Mull. I was too tired to even eat on the ferry. Yup, that’s bad.
Luckily I was part of a tour (Iona, Mull, and Isle of Skye with Rabbie’s), which made my journey to Staffa a million a fifty time easier than if I had done an independent trip. Islands, like Mull, have very limited public transportation options other than ferries, and I don’t think my anxiety could handle driving on the tiny roads. If you want to rent a car, best of luck to you. I’m not sure about directions or anything, haha.
Once on Mull, I took a quicker (10 minute) ferry ride to the smaller island, Iona. Cool raindrops hit my cheeks, but I wasn’t miffed. It’s Scotland. It’s green and gorgeous, so rain isn’t a surprise.
If only I knew.
After venturing through Iona’s iconic abbey, my brother and I rushed to the docks to board our boat for our Staffa adventure. As you can see, the boat isn’t … very big. Normally I wouldn’t care, but the guide alluded to some rough seas once we were out of port.
“It might be a little rocky,” he said. Then he offered seasickness bands – which I accepted – because knowing my luck, I’d puke allllllllll over the deck and make a fool out of myself. Soon we departed and then the fun really began.
“Oh my god, are you kidding me?” I thought as I felt the boat rock back and forth, making hard to stand for even a moment. Yeah, my “salmon and eggs” breakfast would totally end up on deck for everyone to smell if I wasn’t careful.
If you get seasickness, then seriously bring your bands with you. Please. I don’t normally fall ill but I had to stay on deck and watch the horizon, or else it would have turned out bad.
Staffa loomed on the sea after what felt like an eternity.
The picture doesn’t do the waves a justice at all. To dock, the captains have no room for error, and I honestly wasn’t sure if we’d even walk on the island or not. I don’t remember how the captains successfully docked us, but I couldn’t scrabble off the boat fast enough. Land! At last!
Okay, back to visiting Staff and why it’s awesome and worth every ounce of garbage weather if you have a bad day. Staffa has two main “attractions” so to speak. The cave and puffins. We started with the cave. So. Cool. Guys.
The foam rushing through the cave was oddly soothing. I always loved the sound of the sea. Additionally, it’s easy to walk down to furtherest edge of the cave, even if you’re a super klutz like me. Let’s not forget the geological wonders either. This place is breathtaking. In particular, the hexagons were so, so, so cool! Nature is an artist.
And the second attraction? The puffins? Be still my beating heart. There were SO. MANY. puffins on the day of my visit. At least they’re not scared of a little rain. The climb to the top of Staffa was a little trying, but trust me, if I can do the hike, anyone can do the hike. Anyone.
My shoes sank into the mud (didn’t care) as I made my way toward the puffins. Guys, puffins are adorable. So adorable. So stinkin’ adorable. They’re also much tinier than I had envisioned in my head. I didn’t want to move for at least fifteen minutes. My boat would have left me behind if I wasn’t careful.
You’re probably wondering if the journey back was smoother. Ha. No. Not even a little bit, sorry.
It took me awhile to feel normal again after stepping off the boat. Not only did my legs wobble, but my stomach wasn’t sure if it wanted to devour fish and chips or vomit its contents all over Mull’s green mountains. I think I was finally 100% again around dinner time.
What did I learn visiting Staffa in crazy messy weather?
1. My mind is stronger than I give it credit for. I try not to belittle myself, but sometimes it’s challenge not to. And having hypochondria when you travel isn’t cool at all. Yet, somehow, I managed not to give in and throw up. I win.
2. Some struggles are worth the pay off. Staffa was beautiful. It was actually one of the highlights on my trip to Scotland. I’ll never forget looking at puffins and the wild sea, feeling as if I were a million miles away from all the tension in my personal life. Okay that sounds dramatic, but still.
3. Rain won’t kill you. Come on, Rachel. You won’t die if you get wet. It’s gonna be okay. Don’t let weather stop your activities unless it is glaringly unsafe. Scotland has high standards. I doubt the boat would have gone if it was truly dangerous.
4. Uninhabited places can be the most beautiful of all. I adore cities, but quiet rugged untouched locations allure me, too. No doubt. Again, I felt a deep sense of peace visiting Staffa. Peace knowing I had no service on my cellphone, meaning no one had the ability to nag me. Perhaps I should venture to rural and remote destinations more often in the future. what do you guys think? Hmmm.
Is Staffa on your travel bucket list? Have you ever felt seasick but powered through it?