This Off-The-Grid Escape Is Scotland's Most Eco-Friendly Island Full Of Stunning Scenery

Travelers looking for an off-the-beaten path destination where they can immerse themselves in rugged natural beauty, enjoy farm-to-table dining, and support sustainability should head to the remote Isle of Eigg, located off of mainland Scotland's western coast. It was the first community in the world to be completely self-powered with renewable energy from sunshine, water, and wind. It is not connected to the mainland power grid and instead relies on a combination of solar power, hydroelectric generators, and wind turbines.

It's hard to believe a place like the Isle of Eigg exists in a world that sometimes feels like a giant mindless machine designed to extract resources and maximize profits without any concern for environmental and social welfare. For many residents and visitors, Eigg represents an alternative way of life — one that relies on community, connection, and harmony with the natural world. The Utopian-like island only exists due to the locals' hard-fought battle to gain ownership over their land. The Isle of Eigg is more than just a beautiful sustainable tourism destination — it's a revolutionary example of how community, direct democracy, and determination can change the world for the better.

About 100 people live on the island and thousands of tourists visit each year. You can sleep in accommodations like glamping pods and cottages, go hiking, bike around the island, kayak, and wander deserted beaches. It's an ideal destination for eco-conscious adventurers. A visit to the Isle of Eigg directly supports a community dedicated to living harmoniously with nature.

The history of Scotland's resident-owned island

The Isle of Eigg is located in a group of islands called the Inner Hebrides. The islands have been inhabited for thousands of years, being settled by Vikings, Picts, and early Christians. Legends tell of a group of fierce Pictish warrior women who once resided on An Sgùrr, the island's highest peak. In the late 1500s, the island was inhabited by members of the MacDonald clan, all of whom were brutally killed while hiding in a cave from a rival clan.

In more recent history, the island was owned by a wealthy landlord. Locals claimed the owner of the island was neglectful and that there was no security on the island. There was no electricity, no running water, and residents weren't permitted to perform necessary renovations on their homes — and the population was dwindling. When the island came up for sale in 1996, residents began fundraising in order to purchase the island. Thanks to their efforts, and the generous donation of a mystery woman whose identity remains a secret, they were able to buy the island in 1997.

In 2008, the renewable energy electricity plan went into effect. The locals prioritized maintaining micro-farming industry on the island with the goal of eventually achieving full food self-sufficiency. Vegetables are grown in fields and greenhouses, and farmers raise livestock like chickens and sheep.

Planning your trip to Isle of Eigg

Reaching the island requires a little planning. First, you'll have to journey into the Scottish Highlands to the port cities of either Mallaig or Arisaig, and take a ferry boat for about an hour. No outside vehicles are allowed on the island, and there is only one taxi driver. Most visitors choose to walk or bike.

There are a variety of guesthouses available for rent on the island, but the islanders are committed to avoiding over-tourism, so you'll want to make reservations well in advance if you plan to stay for a few days. Airbnb is the best place to look for places to stay, and you can find options for around $100 per night.

There are a few local businesses on the island. You can buy groceries to cook your own meals at the Isle of Eigg Shop. Grab a casual bite at Galmisdale Bay Cafe & Bar, or sit down for a nice multi-course meal with gorgeous views at Lageorna. The Isle of Eigg Brewery creates delicious craft beers. All restaurants prioritize using local ingredients whenever possible. You can purchase soaps and other locally crafted goods at the Lichen honesty shop. Throughout the summer months, you may be able to catch local musicians playing traditional Scottish tunes around town, but other than that, life is pretty quiet on the Isle of Eigg. It's the perfect place to relax and unplug in the beautiful country of Scotland.