Sailing holidays to the Orkney and Shetland islands | Offshore Yacht Charter
Sailing holidays around the Shetland and Orkney islands, means a world of peaceful nature, abundant wildlife and friendly locals. The stunning coast line is varying and rugged. The Orkney Islands and the Shetland Islands are absolute highlights during our sailing voyages around Scotland, with Fair Isle in particular. There is a lot of wild life to be seen, such as Puffins, but with a bit of luck, also Orcas, otters, seals and sometimes also whales. A sailing voyage to the Shetland or Orkney Islands brings you to the most special places and a sailing holiday is the ideal way to explore these special group of Islands.
Sail along to the Shetland & Orkney Islands
These two archipelagos consist of about 170 islands and rocky skerries. Summer days are long due to the northern location and it doesn’t get really dark. The Vikings used to call this “SimmerDim”. Trees are rare and therefore the landscape looks even more rugged and desolate. The Orkney Islands are inhabited for over more than five thousand years, this can be seen from the ruins of Broch‘s and the famous excavation of Skara Brea. There are also several ‘Standing Stones’ to be found on the islands. From Stromness or Kirkwall it is possible to make a nice bus tour as an extra option to admire all this yourself.
Another attraction is “the Old Man of Hoy” a giant stack which rises perpendicularly up from the sea. In between the southern islands lies Scapa Flow. This naturally protected bay (later closed by Churchill for protection against submarines) is famous for its shipwrecks from World War II, and has become a popular diving spot. Kirkwall is the capital and a charming and cozy harbor. Between the Orkney Islands and the mainland of Scotland lies the notorious Pentland Firth, a spectacular passage where tidal streams extremes of 16 knots have been measured at spring tides.
Sailing holidays with skipper to the Orkney & Shetland Islands
The Shetland and Orkney islands are a very special group of islands, also known as Northern isles, and ideal to discover by a sailing voyage. This because there are relatively few roads and there are many islands and Voe’s (fjords). Only a sailing yacht will bring you to the most special places. Sailing and island hopping is a nice balance between traveling, relaxing, enjoying culture and plenty of time to unwind and contemplate.
During our sailing holidays on the Shetland and Orkney islands, we will be in a harbor or at anchor every night. On our trajectory sailing trips with category C, there will be more time to spend time ashore for a hike or an excursion. Such as for, example, a beautiful walk on Fair Isle, a bus tour to Skara Brea, or a walk to the ‘Old man of Hoy’ with spectacular views over the Atlantic ocean.
The Orkney and Shetland islands are located exactly in between the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, thus making sailing a bit more challenging. But the ‘Sounds’ between the islands, provide shelter against the swell. Our sailing holidays around the Shetland Islands are also a bit longer than our usual sailing voyages, which gives us time to anticipate for bad weather forecasts. But no worries, the weather reports on VHF radio are very good and there are many alternative options for us to go to.
We will regularly have to execute a sailing maneuver or change course. The sail-enthusiast can help us, but nothing is mandatory, after all it is your sailing holiday, you can also simply enjoy and relax.
Sailing holidays to Fair Isle, for the active rest seeker
Between the Shetland and Orkney Islands lies Fair Isle, a beautiful and unforgettable stopover. The Northern Orkney Islands are quite low, Fair Isle on the other hand, rises majestically from the sea and a narrow entrance protects a small harbor with a lot of seals. There’s nothing here except tranquility and beautiful nature. A path leads up to the bird observatory that also serves as a shower and bar, with a beautiful view over the harbor. Bird enthusiasts can use the library and the rangers explain more when asked.
In the evening a short walk from the harbor up the cliff, leads to hundreds of Puffins flying ashore and heading to their nests. By the absence of tourists it is possible to approach them within two meters, an unforgettable experience. The weather can change quickly and it can be cold sometimes. But this is also one of the charms of these islands and it provides extra satisfaction when we arrive at the place of destination.
Tip: book your flight as early as possible; tickets wil become expensive because of the limited offer.
Sailing holidays around the Shetland Isles
Lerwick is the charming main town on the Shetland Islands and has a cozy harbour. The city flourished by fishing and whaling in the past. The Shetland Museum has a fine collection of historic boats, archaeological finds and the beautiful Shetland textiles. Just outside Lerwick are several Brochs, such as Clickimin Broch, a fort from 700 BC.
The west coast of the main Island has a beautiful rocky coastline with red granite cliffs and deep fjords (called Voes). Life on the Shetland Islands is laid back and the people are very friendly. The Shetland population largely descends from the Vikings and the relationship with Norway is still bigger than with the UK. The Norwegian city of Bergen also lies closer than London. Due to the many islands, fjords and the beautiful coastline, this is a beautiful sailing area where it is possible to find shelter between the islands. The ‘larger’ ports such as Kirkwall, Lerwick and Scalloway are also charming and active working harbors.
Please see our sailing schedule to find sailing holidays to the Shetland and Orkney islands: