If you have a limited visiting time on Iona then these two beaches are the closest to the pier. They offer wonderful views across the Sound of Iona towards Mull and Mull’s highest peak, Ben More, can be spotted, though it may be shrouded in cloud. St Ronan’s is on your right as you get off the ferry, just in front of the village street. It is perfect for a picnic or building sandcastles and paddling. At low tide there are rocks and pools to explore. Close to the shops and conveniences, it is a great place to sit and watch the boats come and go!
Tours to Staffa run from the pier and you may see the local fisherman land his catch. The Island’s bright red coastal rowing skiff is also kept on this beach and if the weather is fair you may see the locals out for a practice row.
Families also love Martyrs’ Bay beach which is found by turning left from the pier and walking along the shore road just past the buildings. The bay takes it’s name from a Viking raid where the monks came to a sticky end. This is a gently sloping sandy bay ideal for playing rounders or flying a kite and quite sheltered for swimming. Historically this beach was used to land all the provisions needed by Islanders from the Puffer boats that used to work the Western Isles from Glasgow. Now it is a sheltered anchorage for local pleasure boats and a popular picnic site.