Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

This Remote Scottish Island Hopes You’ll Visit … and Maybe Never Leave

Vacation — even better, a proper digital detox — is good for the soul. But what if a temporary escape isn’t enough? The scrappy, remote Scottish island of Stronsay may be just what you’re looking for. Its residents are making a strong case for you to visit … and perhaps stay forever.

Situated in the extreme northern United Kingdom, Stronsay is as far as one can drop off the grid and still feel part of a community. The island is home to less than 350 full-time residents and the pace of life is, in a word, slow. Folks here eschew the trappings of a consumerist lifestyle — 24-hour Walmarts, late-night drive-thrus, and movie theaters — in favor of the simpler things.

The landscape is flat, 13 square miles of lush green farmland that stretches from coast to coast, and ideal for exploring on foot or by bike. Known as the “Island of Bays,” it features some of the most dramatic coastline and beautiful white sand beaches in the Orkney archipelago. The island’s modest Instagram account depicts a place to come and just be.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Stronsay (@visitstronsay) on Feb 24, 2019 at 5:42am PST

Its residents launched a proper website to attract tourists to their quaint corner of the world. They’re curating stories from foreigners who’ve come to the island and never left. The Whiteman family, for example, tossed their work-a-day lives to the wind to move to Stronsay and raise their two boys. In this inspiring blog post, Shirley Whiteman looks back on her decision:

“During the five years that we have lived here, our boys have grown and developed into confident and secure little people … we have no regrets at making this beautiful island paradise our new and forever home.”

Life on the island is simple, but not necessarily easy. Out of the necessity that comes with living in a tiny community, most residents have multiple jobs. Teachers moonlight as lifeguards, and farmers drive taxis to keep the economy humming. The majority of jobs are in the agricultural sector. It’s a place to learn new skills and a little something about yourself. It’s a place where you get out of it as much as you’re willing to put in.

Stronsay-Island-scotland
Visit Stronsay

Tourism to Scotland has exploded in recent years. It’s not surprising given the country’s stunning natural beauty, fascinating history, and hearty, gracious, and friendly people. The islands of the Orkney archipelago offer a welcome respite from the tourist hot spots of Edinburgh and Glasgow. Even relatively “remote” destinations like the Isle of Skye are struggling to keep up with the tidal wave of tourists visiting each year.

If you’re ready to escape the grind of daily life — temporarily or for good — check out Stronsay’s tourism website. They’re waiting for you.

Article originally published January 22, 2018.

Editors' Recommendations

Mike Richard
Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South…
Where to rent an RV: The best RV rental services in the US
outdoorsy camper van

There was never a need to use an RV rental service when I was a child, the family always owned a motorhome. That meant an annual cleanup, load up, and go. This sort of travel is highly appealing to the person not overly involved in the details. As, when your car is like a small living room, there's nothing too bad about being stuck in it when you're camping or driving. Bringing back these memories as an adult, however, brings to mind all of the work that went along with upkeeping the motorhome, the impossibility of keeping it parked in a city, and all other sorts of logistical nightmares that come along with the RV using process. Now, using one of the best RV rental services makes more sense.
The best RV rental services at a glance
To get you started on your path, here is a quick overview of the best RV rental sites in the US, sorted by your most common needs:

Overall best: Rent from

Read more
How to find the best street food (and other travel tips), according to YouTube megastar, The Food Ranger
The dos and don'ts of everything from street food to digital safety when traveling.
Food ranger eating noodles

Trevor James, The Food Ranger, eating a bowl of noodles in Chongqing, China. thefoodranger / Instagram

With over one million followers on Instagram and almost six million subscribers on YouTube, Trevor James (better known by his social media handle, The Food Ranger) has made a career of traveling for food. Over the years, James has traveled to over 40 countries, creating food and travel content on countries ranging from luxurious omakase sushi in Tokyo to drinking camel milk straight from the udder in Pakistan.

Read more
Go ultralight on your next flight with the best carry-on luggage
Traveling lighter is traveling better with these carry-ons
A person pulling a carry-on suitcase through the airport

Taking precautions while traveling is as essential as investing in reliable carry-on luggage. It’s not cool when you shove your clothes in a backpack or duffel bag, only to have the straps get torn before your plane takes off. Or you realize that your bag does not offer much protection against thieves. No traveler wants either to happen.

With hundreds of options from the best luggage brands, hunting for the “perfect” luggage for all your travel needs can be an arduous task — especially if you’re a newbie. To aid in your search, we gathered the best carry-on luggage for your cross-country journey or future overseas travel, including some tips about choosing the best luggage to replace your tired rollaboard or travel backpack.

Read more