St Columba’s Bay

The most southern bay on Iona famed for the arrival of St Columba bring Christianity to Scotland and finding St Columbas Tears of polished serpentine.

Found at the far South of the Island, you need to allow yourself the better part of a day to really enjoy this beach. A picnic and plenty of water are a must. As you view the beach on your approach you will see two bays divided by a large rock. This is a great spot to climb onto and look out onto The Black Island (Eilean Dubh) and beyond that to Islay and Jura on a clear day. Watch out for seals as this Island is the breeding site for Atlantic seals and you may be lucky enough to see a pup on St Columba’s beach. The left hand side is called the Port of the Coracle (Port a Churaich) where in 563AD St Columba is reported to have landed from Ireland to establish Christianity in Scotland.

On the right hand beach there are conical cairns of piled stones, and many theories as to who and why they were built. Both beaches are made up of large rounded pebbles, evidence of the strong power of the waves and tides. Listening to the sounds of waves breaking on the stones can pass a relaxing afternoon. As the grassland meets the edge of the beach the multi-coloured stones are the size of small footballs but the stones reduce in size as you approach the tide line until they become jewel-like gravel. This is the most likely beach to find ‘St Columbas’ Tears’, the famous green serpentine pebbles which are rare and highly prized by artists and jewellers. More likely you will find small pieces of polished white marble with streaks of bright green which end up in pockets to take home. A wonderful beach that is hard to leave.