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Oban is a small town with around 8000 people but due to its tourist industry provides a variety of facilities and services that allow students, staff, delegates and short-term visitors to enjoy an active social life. The town has a modern leisure centre, a public library, and many pubs, shops and restaurants. The Corran Halls put on a variety of shows, plays, music performances, ballet events etc, and the community has recently bought up the two-screen Phoenix Cinema. The stunning scenery offers access to nearly all outdoor pursuits and ferries can take you to many Hebridean destinations. Students usually find it relatively easy to gain temporary or permanent part-time jobs.

Look at the following websites for information about Oban as a tourist destination:

The Argyll & Bute Council website has information on services such as schools, transport and leisure.

Click here for information of how to get to SAMS from further afield.



Students and delegates are responsible to arrange their own accommodation unless explicitly stated otherwise.


SAMS offers a number of accommodation options for students and visitors

  • SAMS student hostel with 11 en-suite rooms located at the Institute

This accommodation is mostly provided to first year students and students with particular needs. To check for availability please email 

All other student accommodation is provided via a letting agent and is in Oban.


For delegates on short courses or conferences and term-time visitors

Previous visitors and course participants have stayed in the following accommodation providers in the area:


For new staff relocating to the area

Oban has a letting agency / property management firm that has been helping many of our staff and students find accommodation. For more information visit of follow them on Facebook.

These estate agents sell and rent out properties in and around Oban:

 Our local newspaper, The Oban Times, also carries regular adverts for properties available to rent.



  • Most students and many delegates for short courses or conferences stay in Oban. There is a regular bus service - operated by West Coast Motors - from Oban to Dunbeg, the village adjacent to SAMS. Just catch the 405 from Oban and it will take you to us!
  • Many students and staff choose to cycle to the institute and a new cycle track from Oban's Ganavan beach is a pleasant and safe way to make the three mile journey.
  • If you want to come by taxi: Alba Taxis (01631 566 676); Argyll Taxis (01631 565 293); Etive Taxis (01631 566 880); Lorn Taxi (01631 564 744); Tower Taxis (01631 569 999); West Coast Taxis (01631 563 777)
  • If you would like to hire a bus for transporting larger groups around the area, this can be arranged through West Coast Motors.
  • There is easy access to the islands through Oban’s Caledonian MacBrayne ferry terminal. There are also regular buses and trains running to Fort William and Glasgow, and connections from there to the rest of the country.
  • For general public transport information for Scotland visit the Traveline Scotland website.
  • There is also a small airport in North Connel, owned by Argyll and Bute Council, with scheduled flights to the the islands of Coll, Colonsay and Tiree. The nearest international airport is Glasgow International, which is two hours by car away from the institute. Both Edinburgh and Prestwick Airport are three hours car journey away from Oban.


Leisure activities


You will most likely be able to do any kind of sport in Oban you never dreamt of doing, as this is "the great outdoors". At SAMS there are pretty much daily lunchtime fitness activities and many students and staff go running, swimming or even sailing during their lunch break. Below are just a few sport clubs in the area; if you are after anything else, locate one of the more fit looking people at SAMS and ask who to get in contact with for doing your particular sport.


Other clubs


Eating and drinking out

There are a multitude of places to eat around Oban and surrounding villages, and the following selection is just to get you started in exploring the culinary opportunities of a town calling itself the 'Seafood Capital of Scotland':

  • Waterfront Fishouse Restaurant and Sloans Bar - No 1, The Pier, Oban T: 01631 563 110
  • Ee-usk (seafood restaurant), North Pier, Oban T: 01631 565666
  • Coast (contemporary restaurant), 104 George Street, Oban T: 01631 569900
  • Waypoint Bar & Grill, Oban Marina (take free ferry from N pier), Kerrera, T: 01631 565333 (1 June - 30 Sep)
  • Manor House (Hotel and Restaurant), Gallanach Road, Oban T: 01631 562087
  • Cuan Mor Restaurant, Bar & Brewery, 60 George Street, Oban T: 01631 565078
  • Piazza (Oban's Pizza and Pasta House) - North Pier, Oban T: 01631 563628
  • The Olive Garden Mediterranean Restaurant, 2 Railway Pier, Oban T: 01631 570347
  • Rowantree Hotel with Steakhouse, George Street, Oban T: 01631 562954 (next to cinema)
  • Oyster Inn Hotel, Restaurant and Pub, Connel
  • The Barn - country inn 3 miles south of Oban
  • Taj Mahal (Indian), 146 George Street, Oban T: 01631 566400 (near cinema)
  • Light of India, 43 Stevenson St , Oban T: 01631 563728
  • China Restaurant, 39 Stafford Street, Oban T: 01631 563575
  • The Lorne Bar Oban, Stevenson Street, Oban T: 01631 570020
  • Markie Dans (pub), Victoria Crescent, Corran Esplanade, Oban T: 01631 564448
  • The Gathering Restaurant (Scottish Banqueting) & O'Donnels Irish Bar, Breadalbane St , Oban T: 01631 564849
  • Paparazzi Cafe Bar and Restaurant, Breadalbane Street, Oban T: 0163 565421 - Facebook
  • Aulay's Bar (pub), 8 Airds Place, Oban T: 01631 562596
  • Oban Chocolate Company
  • The Kitchen Garden coffee shop
  • Julie's Coffee House, 33 Stafford Street, Oban T: 01631 565952
  • Poppies Garden Centre (and tea room) - on A85 between Dunbeg and Connel, near SAMS T: 01631 565718 - one of our staff's favourite luncheon venues (if you don't find them in our own Cafe Scientifique in the Ocean Explorer Centre)


There are also several great fish and chip shops in town and one at Tralee!


  • Oban's two-screen Phoenix Cinema is in community ownership and SAMS held a number of fundraising events to contribute to having this great resource in town. A mobile cinema visits more outlying areas.
  • Oban Comedy Club is hosted by Cuan Mor
  • Lively pub quiz at the Olive Garden every first Wednesday of the month, usually starting 19:45
Corran Halls (theatre, panto, music, ballet, conferences etc), Box office 01631 567333
  • Mull Theatre, Royal Buildings , Main St , Tobermory, Mull T: 01688 302828

  • Stramash provides great outdoor activities
  • Oban 
Tralee Rally Karting – 18 Keil Crofts, Benderloch T: 01631 720297
Vertical Descents (canyoning, archery, fun yakking, mountain biking, abseiling): Inchree Falls , Inchree, Onich T: 01855 821593


Medical and welfare

Provisions at SAMS

  • There are regular visits by an occupational health nurse who tends to staff and students during regular drop-in sessions
  • Two members of staff are trained as welfare officers: Dr David Hughes and Miss Nicola Longman
  • Fiona Wallace acts as our dedicated student support and disability officer
  • Several members of staff are trained in first aid and basic fire-fighting
  • A dedicated Health and Safety Officer ensures the safest possible working environment


Emergency services


General practitioners and dentists

  • Lorn Medical Centre, Soroba Road, Oban, PA34 4HE. T: 01631 563175
  • Taynuilt Medical Practice, Taynuilt, PA35 1JE T: 01866 822684 (surgeries in Taynuilt, Connel & Dalmally)
  • Shore Street Dental Surgery, Oban T: 01631 563006
  • Argyll Square Dental Practice, Oban T: 01631 562791
  • West Highland Dental Studio, Oban T: 01631 565050





  • Scottish Episcopal Church: Oban Cathedral Church of St John T: 01631 562323
  • Roman Catholic: Oban St Columba’s Cathedral T: 01631 562123
  • Church of Scotland Centre, Glencruitten Rd , Oban T: 01631 562405
  • Lorn Christian Fellowship T: 01631 710208
  • Oban Free High Church , Rockfield Rd , Oban T: 01631 562154


Other support services



Oban has a range of supermarkets including Tesco, Co-op, Farmfoods, Lidl and Aldi alongside a multitude of small independent shops.  Boots, New Look, Waterstones, Superdrug and WHSmith are all in the centre of town.
 Argos, Homebase and Pets at Home are just behind Tesco. Also an M&Co shop and various clothes and shoe shops are spread across town. There are also several garden centres in the area. Charity Shops run by Oxfam, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research and the local charity that has gone international, Mary's Meals, are there to tempt all those bargain-hunters! There are also a health food shop and a deli in town. And most importantly, there are the Oban Distillery and the Oban Chocolate Company!

Oban is proud to be a fairtrade town since 2006. And SAMS is a fairtrade organisation!

The LORN market, a community producers market, is great for shopping fresh local produce and networking. The market is on fortnightly on a Thursday 10-3 at Kintaline Farm outside the village of Benderloch.

Whisky Fix is a company specialising in Single Malt Scotch Whisky. As well as being in a beautiful part of the world, we are strategically positioned in a location where every Scottish distillery is only a short trip away! This means we have grown up in and around the Whisky industry, creating a wealth of knowledge and inspiring great passion for the products we offer.



Tours and trips around Oban

The area provides opportunities for many exciting weekends, days or half-days out. Here is a small selection of possible tours - for more visit Great Days Out:


There are a number of things to do with young children:

Contact us
Scottish Marine Institute
Oban, Argyll, PA37 1QA
T: 01631 559000
F: 01631 559001