Isle of May National Nature Reserve

NatureScot's Isle of May National Nature Reserve (NNR) will be reopening for public landings on Monday 1st April 2024 until Monday 30 September 2024.

Avian influenza – latest news

Seabird populations including those on the Isle of May were hit hard by Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in summer 2022. This had devastating consequences and resulted in the death of many seabirds across the British Isles. The virus is still circulating widely in wild bird populations across the UK and beyond. This year to prevent the transmission of the virus by visitors’ biosecurity measures will be in place for all visitors to the island. All footwear must be free from mud, and disinfectant footbaths will be provided to disinfect footwear on arrival and departure. We thank our visitors and all the boat operators for supporting this action and helping protect our precious seabird populations. 

For further information regarding boat sailing availability, please check the websites of the boat companies below. They should start taking bookings in the new year 2024.

Licenced Boat Operators 2023

May Princess (depart from Anstruther)

Osprey rib (depart from Anstruther)

Seabird Centre rib (departs from North Berwick)

Bluewild rib (departs from Dunbar)

Seals and seabirds

Anchored on the Firth of Forth, the Isle of May is a magical mix of seabirds, seals and smuggling.

In early summer the cliffs heave with nesting seabirds – a noisy spectacle you can witness from the cliff-top path. The island is also home to the unmistakeable puffin – a comical bird that dazzles visitors with its brightly coloured bill. In the autumn the largest Atlantic grey seal colony in eastern Britain breeds on ‘the May’, as it’s known locally.

There’s a dark past here, though, with Vikings and smugglers on the list of previous visitors.

A visit to the Isle of May is an amazing experience. Take a ferry from Anstruther or North Berwick. Explore an island blessed with natural wonders and a rich history.

Find out more about visiting the Isle of May NNR...

Top attractions

  • See puffin – one of Scotland’s best-loved birds.
  • Follow our cliff-top paths to see nesting seabirds.
  • Watch for seals on the rocks as your boat nears the island.
  • Learn about the colourful history of this remarkable island.

Find out more about the reserve and its natural history.

What’s on?

Visit our Events page to see what upcoming events you can get involved in at this reserve.


Reserve manager: David Steel
Elmwood Campus
Carslogie Road
KY15 4JB

Telephone: 01738 458800
Email: [email protected]

Find out more

Discover more about why Scotland’s National Nature Reserves were created and the partners who manage them.

Related Links

Follow the Isle of May blog to keep up to date with news from the island or find us on Facebook.

Follow our NNR Facebook page for up-to-date information on reserves across Scotland.

Isle of May NNR is a member of VisitScotland and the GTBS (Green Tourism Business Scheme).

Enjoyed your visit?

  • Make a donation to support nature and visitor facilities on our NNRs.
  • Let us know what you thought on TripAdvisor.            

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