The Isle of Tiree off the west coast of Scotland is one of the most un-spoilt, fun kitesurfing destinations in the world which has been popular with the world windsurfing circuit since the 1980s. Famous for its beautiful clear turquoise waters and uninterrupted sands. it is the perfect destination for kitesurfing, from beginner level to thrill seeking wave addicts and has the highest sunshine rates and most consistent winds in the UK.
This island has so much potential, with 11 kiteable beaches and a couple of reef breaks that work in bigger swell. Gott Bay is a 3.5 mile beach where The Tiree Kitesurf Academy HQ is based, featuring lovely flat, open water and the ability to handle most directions of wind. Plus there's a pub right next door to the shop! Crossapol is famous for its starboard tack conditions, great for the intermediate to advanced rider. Conditions vary though, working in most wind directions, from cross to cross-off. Balinoe is a smaller, less well-known spot but can be a great place to start or end a downwinder to Crossapol. Beware of gusty southwesterlies. Balaphuil is a fantastic wave spot in cross-off conditions where, if you're lucky, you can kite amongst basking sharks. The Maze is home of the Tiree Wave Classic events and the most popular comp spot. Hough Bay is fantastic for flat water addicts at high-tide. These are just a handful of spots. Find more waves at The Green and Ballivuillin (surf school here) and freeride or incredible flat waters at the lagoon upwind at Salum at high-tide in northerly winds. Balephetrish is also a great spot for beginners and TKA teach here when winds aren't suitable at Gott. Great reefs off to the left and right, but be careful as there are no rescue boats. In general be very careful when you are kitesurfing on Tiree. There is a coast guard service but it is completely volunteer run and you are two hours from the nearest rescue by boat. There is a local access officer that can inform you of any parts of the island that are out of bounds for vehicle access. You can drive right up to the beach pretty much everywhere on the island, though.
WIND, WEATHER AND WATER
This is statistically the windiest and sunniest place in the UK, averaging 20 knots most sessions. Generally there is always a swell due to the island's position in the Atlantic but the bigger, more persistent waves come from the end of August through the winter until around May. Only ten miles long and five wide, it's a small island, so you can always find a spot in any direction. The temperature varies a lot, so bring everything from a pair of shorts to a southwester storm coat, although Tiree's position in the Gulf stream generally provides fairly balmy, pleasant weather, probably averaging 11°C average throughout the year.
Everything in Scarinish is in walking distance and is where all the amenities you will need are situated, such as the bank, supermarket and, most importantly, the pub! It's recommend you hire a car or bring your own on the ferry, though. The only hire car company on the island is Maclennan Motors and there is no public transport.
Currency: British Pounds (£): €1 = £0.8 / $1 = £0.6
FOOD AND DRINK
The Tiree Scarinish Hotel has a great selection of fresh seafood and local meat, The Ceahbar restraunt in Sandaig is also very popular with kitesurfers, playing kitesurf movies on a wide screen and with some great ales. The
FarmHouse café in Balamartine is a great spot for lunch or a coffee and The Cobbled Cow in Crossapol serves good fish and chips. The Tiree Lodge Hotel on Gott Bay is a great spot for a pint. There isn't a huge amount of nightlife and you'll probably sample all the island's food and booze options in a week. Great spot for families or singles looking to meet like-minded people.
Tiree Kitesurf Academy have a fleet of new Naish SUPs, there is a pottery and a gallery to visit and sand yachting is available at Gott Bay by arrangement with Wild Diamond. As usual, SUP is a good thing to do on non-windy days. Due to Tiree’s waves, surfing is also on the cards. Cycling is relatively easy as the island is pretty flat and there’s also whale watching opportunities and basking sharks can be spotted from May to the beginning of August.
HOW TO GET THERE
There is one airport on the island, situated at Crossapol. There is one daily flight a day in the summer from Glasgow operated by Flybe, and in the winter every day except Sunday. FlyBe includes a 20kg luggage allowance, but check which plane is in service because smaller aircraft don’t have as much space. There is also a flight from Oban twice a day, three days a week operated by Hebridean Airways.
In summer Caledonian MacBrayne runs a daily ferry from Oban. In winter the service operates three times a week. The direct ferry takes three-and-a-half hours; the indirect ferry takes four-and-a-half hours. Book ferries through Caledonian MacBraye at: www.calmac.co.uk