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Isle of May Boat Trip, Scotland

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

After visiting over twenty years ago, it was time for a re-visit to the beautiful Isle of May. The bird sanctuary is located on the east coast of Scotland. One of the best places to see Puffins and a great day out for the family. Here's what you need to know about taking a boat trip to the Isle of May.

A single puffin standing on a wall looking out to sea.
Puffin On Wall, Isle of May ©MDHarding

Isle of May Boat Trip, Scotland

This year Scotland is celebrating the themed year of coast and waters, what better time to visit the Isle of May.

About The Isle of May

The history of the island dates back to the 9th century when it was first inhabited by St Adrian and fellow monks. Today you can see the ruins of a 13th-century chapel, one of Scotland's oldest lighthouses (1636) designed by the Stevenson family, a loch and its abundance of wildlife. Look out for the strangely coloured wild rabbits, puffins, gannets, razorbill's, oystercatchers, Arctic tern's, cormorants, shags, seals and more.

Close up of Eider Duck looking straight at the camera.
Eider Duck, Isle of May ©MDHarding

How to Reach The Isle of May

The easiest way to reach the Isle of May is by first driving to the coastal town of Anstruther. Located only an hour and 30 minutes drive from Edinburgh, it is an ideal day trip. Please pre-book the boat trip to the Isle of May well in advance. We travelled on board the May Princess with Anstruther Pleasure Cruises. It was very well organised, felt very safe with all seating outdoors. There is a toilet on board, as well as a small snack/gift shop.

The May Princess Boat docked at the Isle of May, Scotland.
May Princess, Isle of May ©MDHarding


You might like to extend your stay and visit other coastal villages nearby. There are a number of Airbnb's closeby as well as, self-catering accommodation and small hotels.

Traditional historic white painted houses in coastal Fife.
Historic Self-Catering Accommodation, Fife ©MDHarding

When To Visit

If like me, you love to watch the puffins the best time to visit is between June and July before they go back to sea. Though there is always something to see and explore. You can visit the Island between April - September.

Puffin With Fish, Isle of May ©MDHarding


You can reach Anstruther by bus via Stagecoach but the best mode of transport is by car. For all-day free parking, there is a car park opposite the Co-op or for less than three hours, there is a paid car park in the old harbour.

Coming into the harbour by boat, with many docked smaller sailing boats and the quaint coastal houses in the background.
Old Harbour, Anstruther ©MDHarding

What To Wear

Dress for the weather with comfortable clothes and walking shoes/trainers. Scotland's weather can change quickly. I can highly recommend Craghoppers comfortable waterproof trousers with zip pockets and warm jackets. You might also like to take a hat not only to protect you from the sun but also the nesting Arctic Terns!

Protective Nesting Arctic Terns, Isle of May ©MDHarding

What You Need to take on A Day Trip

Depending on the time of your day trip, you might also like to take a packed lunch, a bottle of water, a snack, suncream, sunglasses and hand sanitiser. The Co-op at the top of the hill in Anstruther has a wide range of takeaway sandwiches, pasta, wraps etc.

Top Tips

On returning to Anstruther you might also like to visit the Scottish Fisheries Museum. It's a really informative little museum with interesting displays about both local and international connections.

Don't miss the award-winning fish and chips from Anstruther Fish Bar, as well as the delicious ice cream.

There are also lovely coastal walks between Anstruther ad Crail.

You can read more about all those top tips and more in The Coastal Fishing Village Of Anstruther.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the Isle of May and are inspired to visit. It's a great day out!

Till next time, take care, Michelle

P.s For more family days out in Fife check out the Scottish Deer Centre and Cairnie Fruit Farm. You might have heard about the Pirates of the Caribbean but have you heard about the Pirates arr in Fife?

You can now buy a wide range of products with a selection of photographs, taken in Scotland and around the world. Including items with puffins - Visit the MDHarding RedBubble shop.

I'm also excited to share, I have published a book! It's a children's colouring book - Birds Around The World. It not only has pictures to colour in but includes information about each bird, from the giant of the sky to the world's smallest bird.


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