Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

Island facilities

Shop and Post Office

Stackhoull Stores is the only shop on Fair Isle, but it is well-stocked and you can buy food, drinks, batteries and stationary etc. The Post Office can also be found there. Its opening hours in summer are:

MONDAY 09:30 12:30 14:00 16:30
TUESDAY 09:30 12:30 CLOSED
WEDNESDAY 09:30 12:30 14:00 16:30
FRIDAY 09:30 12:30 14:00 16:30

Note that in winter, from around early October to late April, the shop is also closed on Tuesday morning (i.e. all day) and Friday afternoon, and the post office is only open on Monday and Friday.


The George Waterston Memorial Centre and Museum is located in the old school building between the Chapel and Taft croft. It contains a selection of knitwear, artefacts, photographs and other historical memorabilia from Fair Isle's history. The islanders running the museum are full of old tales!

Opening times (end of April to October):

MONDAY 14:00 16:00
WEDNESDAY 10:30 12:00
FRIDAY 14:00 15:30

For anyone wishing to visit at other times, please contact the Ranger at the Observatory.


Local knitwear can be purchased from the Observatory gift shop, in the Community Centre on cruise-ship days or by arrangement with the local knitters themselves. More ...

South Lighthouse

By arrangement with the Northern Lighthouse Board and the Fair Isle Lighthouse Society, visitors are offered an official guided tour of the lighthouse. Link to the Fair Isle Lighthouse Society

Places of worship

The Methodist Chapel holds services on Sundays at 11 a.m. Staff will organise transport to the services from the Observatory (see whiteboard for details) The Church of Scotland Kirk is now closed.

Medical matters

Fair Isle is a non-doctor island, but we do have a resident nurse. The surgery is situated at Chalet. The surgery has a limited stock of medication such as antibiotics and painkillers. However, if you are on regular medication, or have medicines that you take occasionally it is essential that you bring adequate quantities with you to cover the duration of your stay and extra in case of any delays. There is a 'walk in' surgery from 9.30 to 11 a.m. Monday to Friday and the nurse can be contacted by telephone 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday (telephone 01595 760 242). Outside these times and at weekends the nurse is off duty and any emergency should be directed through NHS 24: telephone 111. In the event of any emergency or if you feel you need help with contacting the nurse, please ask Observatory staff for assistance. Link to NHS Shetland


The telephone kiosk at Shirva is a Category B listed structure and dates from c.1935.


From October 2018, electricity is now provided by a new renewable electricity system which combines three wind turbine generators, a ground-mounted solar photovoltaic system and battery storage. In 1982, Fair Isle ran the first commercially operated wind energy scheme in Europe.


Mains water is provided by Scottish Water from a 73 m deep well near the airstrip. In the past, there were a number of wells scattered around the island. Water is also pumped to the small Vaadal reservoir which provides storage for some three days' supply of water.

Public toilets

There are public toilets at the Observatory, in the waiting room at the airstrip, at the Hall and via an outside door at Stackhoull Stores.

Taxi and car hire

Fair Isle is ideal for walking, but if you need transport, taxis and hire cars can be arranged with one of the islanders (tel Florrie on 01595 760 222 for details), whilst bicycles can be hired from Lerwick prior to your visit e.g. Grantfield Garage (tel 01595 692709).


There is no bank on Fair Isle, but cash withdrawals can be made from the shop/post office.