advertisement

Biking -- Gently undulating hills, coupled with good roads and a dearth of traffic, make the Isle of Skye appealing to cyclists. The island's premier rental outfits are Island Cycles, The Green, in the coastal city of Portree (tel. 01478/613-121), and Fairwinds Bicycle Hire, Elgol Road, Broadford (tel. 01471/822-270), farther inland, near the center of the island. Both charge £10 to £18 a day. Island Cycles is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm; Fairwinds is open daily from 9am to 7pm.

Boating -- The coast of Skye is the most ruggedly beautiful this side of the Norwegian fjords, and several entrepreneurs offer boat trips letting you drink in the scenery. Foremost is Bella Jane Boat Trips, The Harbourfront, Elgol (tel. 0800/731-3089 toll-free in Britain, or 01471/866-244; www.bellajane.co.uk). From the piers in the village of Elgol, you'll board a sturdy vessel that sails daily (if there's enough business), between Easter and October, into the rock-ringed borders of Loch Coruisk, at the foot of the Cuillin Hills, which are rich in bird life. Most visitors opt for the standard return trip; you're carried to the base of the hills, deposited for 90 minutes of wandering, and then returned over water to Elgol. It lasts 3 hours and costs £20 per person, £8 for children 4 to 12. If you're hardy and really interested in hiking, you can extend this experience to a full day.

Golf -- Golfing on Skye means an almost total absence of supervision, weather that can rain out or dry out a game with almost no notice, and, often, a lack of players. Whether you find this charming depends on your expectations, but overall, the island's best course is the 9-hole Isle of Skye Golf Club (tel. 01478/650-414; www.isleofskyegolfclub.co.uk), adjacent to the hamlet of Sconser, on the southeast coast. Maintained by the local municipality, it has a simple snack bar and pub, and an on-again, off-again employee who cuts the grass whenever necessary. Less desirable, but still prized for its convenience to residents of the Skeabost House Hotel, is the 9-hole course associated with the hotel. Nonguests can play if they phone ahead. Greens fees at both courses are £30 for a full day's play.

Hiking -- Any branch of Skye's tourist office will offer advice on the many hikes available through the heather and glens of the island. If you enjoy walking, and you're stout-hearted and fit, consider extending a boat trip on the Bella Jane with an additional 23km (14-mile) overland hike from the Cuillin Hills back to more heavily populated regions of the island. To do this, take the boat trip (one-way only) from Elgol to the Cuillin Hills. From here, brown-and-white signs direct you across an undulating, rock-strewn landscape to the Sligachan Hotel , the premier hotel for trekkers. You can overnight at the hotel or take a bus or taxi the remaining 11km (6 3/4 miles) back to Portree.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.