Staffa Islands Fingals Cave entrance, Scotlands Hebrides Staffa Islands Fingals Cave entrance, Scotlands Hebrides

The Fingal’s Cave in Scotland: Exhilarating Adventures Await in Deep Darkness!

You are in Scotland and you miss the Fingal’s Cave on Staffa Island. No! that’s just not possible. I mean how can anyone afford to miss such an ethereal sight? From the robust scenery to the variety of sea birds, you can treat your eyeballs. You will also be taken on a boat trip to the Cave, which means you can spot whales, dolphins, and porpoises on your way!

So, get ready to cave into an adventure through this article as we step into it, experiencing the unknown to fuel your curiosity to visit the place in reality…!!

“ of the most extraordinary places I ever beheld.

It exceeded, in my mind, every description I had heard of it …composed entirely of basaltic pillars as high as the roof of a cathedral, and running deep into the rock, eternally swept by a deep and swelling sea, and paved, as it were, with ruddy marble, baffles all description.”– Sir Walter Scott 

Witness the beauty of our Earth’s hidden treasures when you visit Staffa. I bet you will be awestruck viewing the spectacular sea caves with its tall hexagonal basalt columns. This particular cave has a unique history and geology you cannot find anywhere else. It contains fractured columns outside the cave above the water level with crude walkways for visitors to get inside and explore the cavern.

The cave has been a renowned wonder since the ancient Irish and Scottish Celts, which eventually made this site gain prominence in the legends. It was also called the Uamh-Binn or “The Cave of Melody” for the Celtic people. 

The cave’s landmark is also astounding as it is staggeringly deep, up to 230 feet, and the entrance is approximately 60 feet tall and 50 feet wide. Sounds interesting, right? Interestingly, the cave is inaccessible throughout the year except from April to September. It is a natural nature reserve owned by the Natural Trust of Scotland

You won’t believe that its unusual formations have inspired artists and poets throughout history. Felix Mendelssohn, who composed the Hebrides overture and some of the early songs of Pink Floyd, gained inspiration from the cave’s acoustics. 

To the locals, it is called the Melodic Cave, as the sound of the crashing waves echoes in a musical tone from the walls within the cave. The only commute mode for visitors is by taking a boat from the Isle of Mull and then walking through the cave and listening to the tunes of the waves echoing off the cave walls!

I would say going to Fingal’s Cave from Oban is the quickest way to get to the cave. Also, if you are driving from there, it’s just two and a half hours drive. You can even opt for tours from Oban that include other places to explore, including the boat ride to the cave! Otherwise, take a journey by train or bus from Glasgow to Oban. However, cruises will be canceled if it’s too difficult to travel!

Want to try swimming in the cave? Then check here!

I Can Give You Several Reasons for Its Popularity

Located just off Staffa’s southwest coast in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland lies the world’s most popular acoustic sea cave. It is known as a breathtaking natural wonder for its gorgeous hexagonal columns resulting from massive lave flows millions of years ago. 

1. It has Impressive Geometric Hexagonal Columns

Visiting the cave gives you a feel of something from a science fiction movie. The symmetrical columns are garnished by perfect hexagons that appear surreal, giving you a sense of uneasiness or amazement. It all depends on each person. 

According to scientific explanations, the formation of hexagons is quite simple without the interference of aliens. It all began millions of years ago when molten lava flowed in and around the cave’s locale. Upon cooling, there were perpendicular fractures on the cooled surface. 

Finally, the waves handcrafted the striking geometric designs of the cave through erosion over the millennia.

2. Fingal’s Cave Mendelssohn

Mendelssohn: Overture 'The Hebrides' | Sir John Eliot Gardiner

Above I already told you that Felix Mendelssohn was inspired by the cave. Here’s what exactly happened…

The cave came into modern reputation since the 1929 visit of the composer Felix Mendelssohn. He was inspired by the cave’s amazing acoustics from the sound of the lapping waves on the arched roof of the cave walls. After exiting the trip to the cave, he penned the opening piano melody and sent it to his sister on a postcard.

This is an excerpt from his concert overture, The Hebrides. 

“In order to make you understand how extraordinarily the Hebrides affected me, I send you the following, which came into my head there


Over the upcoming years, he began orchestrating the piece that became one of Mendelssohn’s widely celebrated works.

3. Artists than Mendelssohn were Inspired Over Centuries

Apart from being a popular tourist attraction, it has been a consistent source of inspiration for Europe’s renowned artists. Poets like Wordsworth and John Keats and authors like Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson have been blown away by the comforting tunes of the echoing walls. 

Even Queen Victoria, for that matter, was inspired at the cave…!! Ultimately, Pink Floyd, the rock legend, composed a song from the cave.

In an interview with the Icy Whiz team, Pierce Hogan, Owner of Varied Lands, shared the most compelling aspect of Fingal’s Cave. Here is what he said:

Pierce Hogan - Featured
Pierce Hogan

“The striking geometrical structure of Fingal’s Cave is what captivates me the most. The hexagonal columns formed by the slow cooling of lava are a breathtaking sight and a perfect example of nature’s precision.

Learning about the cave’s formation through volcanic activity and the subsequent cooling process expanded my understanding of geological time scales and the dynamic processes shaping our planet.

This knowledge has profoundly impacted my perspective on both nature and art, reinforcing the idea that both are enduring yet ever-evolving.

It’s fascinating to see how this natural structure has influenced various cultural artifacts and legends, linking the scientific with the mythical in a seamless narrative.”

4. You can Take a Tour by Foot in Fair Weather from the Cave’s Entrance

Staffa Island - Fingal's cave

I recommend you keep in mind the time you pay a visit to the cave. The weather has to be fairly perfect to avoid being trapped inside the sea cave during a storm…!! On clear days, you can enjoy the cave’s acoustics in all its glory. You can take the short path that takes you to the cave’s endurance.

Unfortunately, they have been damaged recently, and this is not a possible option for visitors to get into the cave. 

5. Puffins Burrow Nearby During Summer

There are over 600 confirmed puffin burrows housed on Staffa. So, if you wish to treat your eyes to see them in their natural habitat, schedule your trip for the summer. These colorful birds begin breeding in April and stay beside the burrows till August.

If you’re lucky, you can find them soaring over the ocean for food or just strolling on the island shore. But these birds are usually found on the opposite side of the island, a bit further away from Fingals Cave. 

You can obtain better views of them by touring the Treshnish Isles, an archipelago of small islands close to the cave with a very high puffin population. However, the birds are typically on the opposite side of the island from Fingal’s Cave. You’ll stand a better chance of capturing them by visiting the nearby Treshnish Isles, an archipelago of tiny islands with higher puffin populations.

Ultimately, whether you are on a cruise or a quick trip to Staffa, you are sure to fall in love with the Fingal Cave. So, keep your cameras turned ON to click as many as you can once you find it on the horizon. Trust me, the cave is sheer magical and can give you an unforgettable experience for a lifetime…!!

We interviewed Amy Tribe, Director of OGLF (Our Good Living Formula), on the acoustic properties of Fingal’s Cave. Here is what she said:

Amy Tribe - Featured
Amy Tribe

“Fingal’s Cave is an awe-inspiring sea cave. When you visit, be ready to be captivated by its stunning natural beauty, remarkable acoustics, and the myths that envelop it.

From my visits, the extraordinary acoustic properties of Fingal’s Cave stand out as one of its most impressive aspects. The cave’s structure naturally amplifies sounds, turning them into a chorus of echoes that are truly mesmerizing.

The architecture of the cave is unlike any other. It’s the only sea cave fully formed from hexagonally-jointed basalt. It’s one of the most incredible sights I’ve ever seen. It surpasses every description I had ever read or heard of it. 

Entirely made up of basalt columns that reach as high as a cathedral’s ceiling, extending deep into the rock, perpetually washed by a deep, resonant sea, and floored with what looks like ruddy marble, it defies simple description.

The interplay of light and shadow, the rhythmic reverberations, and the ancient rock formations merge to create an overwhelming experience for the senses.”

Let Me Tell You the Story Behind Fingal’s Cave Formation

With such a plethora of interesting information, it’s time to cave deep into time to the long, long ago story of the cave. 

The cave was formed around 60 million years ago through volcanic activity during the Paleogene period. The cave’s basalt formation and geology look somewhat similar to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Scientists have found that the formation of the basalt columns results from the columnar jointing process. This occurred with the cooling and contraction of the molten lava that flowed over the area years ago.

As a result of this process, the rocks have cracked into natural hexagonal or polygonal shapes.

This process is quite similar to how fractures appear on drying mud in a river bed. These columns are rich in iron and magnesium and are called tholeiitic basalt, a type of basalt. They are arranged tightly in a vertical pattern that appears like a honeycomb and appears otherworldly to the beholder. 

Overall, the cave is a testament to incredible geological history that has constantly inspired scientists and visitors alike with its distinct charm and geological significance. 

David Ciccarelli, CEO of Lake, talked to the Icy Whiz team about the mythical aura of Fingal’s Cave. Here is what he had to say:

David Ciccarelli - Featured
David Ciccarelli

“What I find most compelling about Fingal’s Cave is its mythical aura, intertwined with its natural grandeur. The legends of giants and epic battles that surround the cave’s history enrich its physical presence, making it a place where art and folklore meet geology.

During my visit, I was struck by the sheer size and rugged beauty of the cave, which felt like stepping into another world—a world where myth and nature coexist. This experience challenged me to consider the role of natural sites in storytelling and their power to inspire art and legend.

The cave not only altered my view of how deeply intertwined nature and culture can be but also underscored the importance of preserving such sites, where stories of the past continue to inspire the present.”

 The cave was a popular attraction to Romantic artists of all disciplines throughout the 19th century. However, the discovery of the cave goes to the botanist Sir Joseph Banks during his trip to the West in 1772.

He mentioned it in his 1772 Journal of Travel in the same year that gave rise to its cultural importance. Describing it as “the most magnificent …. that has ever been described by travelers” in his journal, the cave welcomed a flood of tourists throughout the ensuing 250 years. 

  • Even Queen Victoria was a famous tourist who voyaged to the cave.
  • Later, on August 13, 1772, Banks, with his crew that included artist James Miller, explored, drew, and measured Staffa.  
  • The cave’s mention also appeared in 1774 in Thomas Pennant’s A Tour of Scotland and Voyage to The Hebrides
  • As time went by, JMW Turner used the painting of the cave as a front cover for the poem by Sir Walter Scott. It pictured the Cave on the left with a tourist steamer’s smoke billowing towards it.
  • Felix Mendelssohn, the famous German composer, Pink Floyd, and Matthew Barney vaulted the cave to the world.

Actually, after the discovery of Banks, there is a whole list of artists sojourning to the cave, which you can read here!

The Icy Whiz team talked to Amanda Benson, Owner of the Dusty Trail RV, on this. Here is what she had to say:

Amanda Benson
Amanda Benson

“Fingal’s Cave, located on the uninhabited island of Staffa in Scotland, is truly a marvel of nature with its towering hexagonal basalt columns and ocean-filled depths. Here’s what makes this cave so compelling:

  • Geological Uniqueness: The cave’s structure is formed from hexagonally jointed basalt columns, similar to those at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. This rare geological formation was created by the cooling of lava flows 60 million years ago. The cave itself is approximately 72 meters long and 14 meters high, showcasing the grand scale of natural architecture.
  • Natural Acoustics: The cave is renowned for its natural acoustics, which have inspired many artists and composers. The sound of the waves echoing off the basalt columns creates a cathedral-like atmosphere, which influenced Felix Mendelssohn to compose “The Hebrides Overture” after his visit in 1829. The unique acoustics are often compared to a natural cathedral, with the sound of the ocean waves creating an unforgettable echo that enhances any musical performance inside the cave.
  • Cultural Impact: Beyond its natural beauty, Fingal’s Cave has been a source of inspiration for artists, poets, and writers. Figures like J.M.W. Turner and Jules Verne were captivated by its mystique, incorporating it into their works. It has been featured in literature and music for over 200 years, influencing countless pieces of art and storytelling.

Learning about Fingal’s Cave has deepened my appreciation for how nature and culture intertwine. It’s a reminder that our planet’s beauty is not just in its landscapes but also in the stories and art they inspire.”

Want an awe-inspiring experience? I highly recommend you book your trip to the Fingal’s Cave! From the geological history and formation to the exploration, something contributes to this astounding cave’s rich history and cultural significance. Also, it has been a significant inspiration for some great works of literature, art, and music, leaving an eternal impression on art and culture!

Depending on the weather, most tours operate between April and October when temperatures are bearable with fewer storms. However, the best time to go is in September (if you don’t want to photograph the puffins) when the weather is pleasant. And ensure you visit the cave in the morning for the best views.

Guest Author: Saket Kumar

Last Updated on May 12, 2024 by Pragya


  1. Hephzibah, your captivating guide on Fingal’s Cave in Scotland took me on a virtual adventure! The geological wonders, historical legends, and tips on visiting have me daydreaming about planning my own journey to this magical place. Thank you for bringing the unknown into the spotlight!

  2. Fingal’s Cave sounds like an absolute must-visit! The allure of its deep darkness and exhilarating adventures has me ready to book my tickets right away. Thanks for the captivating article!

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