Lewis and Harris named best island in Europe

Bosta Beach , Uig. SGD. 12857
Bosta Beach , Uig. SGD. 12857

Lewis and Harris island was today named among the world winners of the Travellers’ Choice Islands awards, announced by TripAdvisor(R), the world’s largest travel site*.

Lewis and Harris beat tropical rivals in Thailand, Chile and Madagascar to be included in the top five islands in the world, also making it the number one island in Europe, based on the reviews and opinions of millions of travellers on TripAdvisor.

Fancy a trip to Thailand? Not now, ‘Isle’ be heading to Scotland Scottish Isles were among the best performing in the world, with the Orkney Islands mainland and the Isle of Mull also named among Europe’s top ten.

In fact, six of the UK’s top ten islands can be found north of the border. The Isle of Skye, Isle of Arran and Islay took fifth, sixth and eighth places respectively in the UK list of winners.

In its second year, the Travellers’ Choice Island awards winners are determined based on the quality and quantity of the most highly-rated hotels, restaurants, and attractions listed for each island on TripAdvisor gathered during a 12-month period.

“An island holiday usually conjures images of faraway palm-lined beaches, white sand and crystal clear water but the results of this year’s awards reveal that the ideal island getaway might be closer to home than you think,” commented James Kay, TripAdvisor spokesperson.

Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland said: “With hundreds of islands, each with their own unique character, diverse landscape and rich wildlife, it’s no surprise that these islands have been recognised in the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Islands awards. It’s always great to get this kind of recognition and I’m sure it will help encourage even more people to visit these incredible islands in 2014,

the year Scotland Welcomes the World”.

World number one clings on to its crown for second year

Ambergris Caye in Belize has been crowned the number one island in the world for the second year running. The largest island in Belize, Ambergris Caye boasts spectacular caves, winding waterfalls, tropical rainforest and hundreds of limestone caves. The island also claims the second largest coral reef system in the world.

Western Isles SNP MP, Angus MacNeil commented: “This is yet another fantastic accolade for Lewis and Harris who had its first documented visitor in 325BC, a Greek named Pytheas, who doubtless saw a better island than he was used to in the Mediterranean .

“Lewis and Harris has remained a well kept secret ever since, with the impressive stones at Callanish, which are older than Stonehenge, the magnificent scenery of the Uig/Bernera area, where the Lewis Chessmen were found - the oldest chess set in the world - or the Castle at Amhuinnsuidhe at Harris or indeed the beaches and the Fjords of the East Coast from Harris to Lochs, TripAdvisor has to be congratulated for spotting Europe’s top island.”

He continued: “Lewis and Harris is a good place socially, Stornoway and Tarbert could almost be twinned with Galway in the West of Ireland for atmosphere.

“The most important thing to make a place are its people, who are both friendly and humorous in equal measure. This is a good recognition of the skills and welcome by those who work in the hospitality industry to those visiting the islands and I congratulate them for that. This is a real boost for everyone involved in the tourism industry, who continue to do a fantastic job in promoting our islands.

“It is good that visitor numbers have increased by 27% over the past six years and I would like to think that there is a direct link, between the benefits of RET for cars and passengers and this discovery and accolade by TripAdvisor. In this important year for Scotland 2014, people could find no better place to go for a “Staycation” than Lewis and Harris and the wider Outer Hebrides.”

Mr MacNeil added: “Finally, for those wanting to visit Europe’s No 1 island, there are flights daily to Stornoway from Scotland’s four main cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness, (who are main cities probably because they are connected to Lewis and Harris by air) and of course ferries to Stornoway and Tarbert, from Ullapool and Uig in Skye respectively.”

Top 10 Islands in the World:

1. Ambergris Caye, Belize

2. Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

4. Marco Island, Florida

5. Lewis and Harris, Scotland, United Kingdom

6. Naxos, Greece

7. Aitutaki, Cook Islands

8. Nosy Be, Madagascar

9. Easter Island, Chile

10. Ko Tao, Thailand

Top 10 Islands in Europe:

1. Lewis and Harris, Scotland, United Kingdom

2. Naxos, Greece

3. Island of Gozo, Malta

4. Mainland, Orkney Islands, Scotland, United Kingdom

5. Milos, Greece

6 Cephalonia, Greece

7. Santorini, Greece

8. Island of Capri, Italy

9. Isle of Mull, Scotland, United Kingdom

10. Paros, Greece

Top 10 Islands in the UK:

1. Lewis and Harris, Scotland, United Kingdom

2. Mainland, Orkney Islands, Scotland, United Kingdom

3. Isle of Mull, Scotland, United Kingdom

4. Jersey, Great Britain

5. Isle of Skye, Scotland, United Kingdom

6. Isle of Arran, Scotland, United Kingdom

7. Isle of Man, Great Britain

8. Islay, Scotland, United Kingdom

9. St Mary’s, Isle of Scilly, United Kingdom

10. Island of Anglesey, Wales, United Kingdom