Staffa (Scottish Gaelic: Stafa, pronounced [s̪t̪afa]) from the Old Norse for stave or pillar island, is an island of the Inner Hebrides in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. The Vikings gave it this name as its columnar basalt reminded them of their houses, which were built from vertically placed tree-logs.
Staffa lies about 10 kilometres (6 mi) west of the Isle Of Mull. The area is 33 hectares (82 acres) and the highest point is 42 metres (138 ft) above sea level.
The island came to prominence in the late 18th century after a visit by Sir Joseph Banks. He and his fellow-travellers extolled the natural beauty of the basalt columns in general and of the island's main sea cavern, which Banks renamed 'Fingal's Cave'. Their visit was followed by those of many other prominent personalities throughout the next two centuries, including Queen Victoria and Felix Mendelssohn. The latter's Hebrides Overture brought further fame to the island, which was by then uninhabited. It is now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.
In 1800 there were three red deer on the island, later replaced by goats and then by a small herd of black cattle. Subsequently the summer grazing was used for sheep by crofters from Iona, but in 1997 all livestock was removed. This has led to a regeneration of the island's vegetation.
Puffins, black-legged kittiwakes common shags and gulls nest on the island, and the surrounding waters provide a livelihood for numerous seabirds, gray seals, dolphins, basking sharks, minke, and pilot whales.
Boat trips from Oban, Ulva Ferry and Fionnphort on Mull, and Iona allow visitors to view the caves and the puffins that nest on the island between May and September.
There is a landing place used by the tourist boats just north of Am Buachaille, but disembarkation is only possible in calm conditions. The island lacks a genuine anchorage.