Laggan Bay on the east shore of Loch Indaal is one of the safer beaches for swimming on Islay, with a large, curved sweep of sand 6 miles long known as the Big Strand. The strangely named Oa Peninsula to the south of the bay is the southernmost part of Islay, reaching a height of 202 metres at Beinn Mhor, and with the Mull of Oa rising to 131 metres from where, on a clear day, the coast of Ireland can be seen. The shore mostly consists of cliffs and sandy bays, and there is good birdwatching to be had here, including choughs, golden eagles and peregrines, while otters can sometimes be seen just offshore. The Mull of Oa is dominated by the American Memorial, which was erected in memory of the huge loss of life resulting from two of the island's most famous shipping disasters involving the SS Tuscania and the HMS Otranto, both of which occurred in 1918 towards the end of the First World War (see also Port Charlotte). At Cragabus there is a chambered cairn with a standing stone nearby. The only other sign of human life on the peninsula are the abandoned houses dotted around it. The peninsula once had a population of 800, but following the Highland Clearances became deserted.
Map of the area.
© 2006 Julian Dowse, via Wikimedia Commons