Port Charlotte has a hotel, restaurant, pub and cafe, all of which serve meals and snacks. The Port Mor Centre, just beyond WestEnd, has a children’s play area. There is a small shop in the village which also sells petrol, and for more extensive shopping Islay’s main supermarket is the Co-Op in Bowmore. Bowmore has bank facilities and several other shops, including a butcher and a regular fish van.
Islay is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with over 100 species recorded here regularly. The island is home to the largest breeding population of chough in Britain, and these can be seen at a number of locations. In winter, large flocks of Greenland Barnacle and White-fronted Geese arrive, with many feeding in the fields to the rear of West End. Other wildlife is abundant – red deer and roe deer can be seen easily, and fallow deer inhabit the south of the island. Otters are plentiful, although harder to spot.
For an active holiday, pony trekking, fishing trips and wind surfing can all be arranged locally. There is also an excellent links golf course at Machrie. For indoors pursuits try the Mactaggart Leisure Centre, Islay’s community-owned 25m pool with gym and sauna.
Islay’s most famous export is of course its whisky. With 8 distilleries all offering tours and tastes, you’re bound to find one you like!
There are 2 small sandy beaches within 5-10 minutes’ walk of the house – 1 in the village, 1 at Port Mor. Islay’s other beaches, including the dramatic sandy beaches of the west coast of the Rinns of Islay such as Machir Bay, and the long stretch of the Big Strand, are all within 20 – 30 minutes’ drive.