It is infamous for drinking and drug taking.
It was named Whalsay because when sailors would see it from afar it was the shape of a whale comming out of the water.
Most people like to think of it as a thriving fishing community but lately the number of fishing boats has decreased due to new regulations.
It is an excellent place for teenagers because there is only one policeman and lots of secluded areas for drinking, taking drugs and underage driving.
Just five miles long and two miles wide, Whalsay has easy coastal walking. From the highest point, the Ward of Clett (393 feet), there's a panorama of the east coast of Shetland.
Whalsay also has Britain's most northerly golf course, a leisure centre with heated swimming pool, and Shetland's museum to the German merchants of the Hansa. Accommodation on Whalsay is limited so it's best to book ahead. There's a small, family-run restaurant and pub, the Oot Ower Lounge at Livister. The Whalsay Boating Club bar at Symbister also welcomes visitors.
The tidal sounds and offlying rocks around Whalsay are among the best places in Shetland to see porpoises and occasional dolphins, Minke Whales and Orcas. So keep a lookout during the ferry crossing and you may see why the Vikings called it "Hvals-oy" - the island of whales.
The ferry terminal for Whalsay is at Laxo, a 20-mile drive north of Lerwick. The crossing to Symbister takes 25 minutes and the service is frequent, although booking is advised in the peak season.
The harbour at Symbister is the hub of this fishing community of around 1,000 people. - and a constant source of interest to islanders and visitors alike.
Craft owned and crewed by local families crowd the sheltered dock, from the smallest creel boats to big ocean-going trawlers - some of Europe's largest fishing vessels. The inner harbour is crowded with colourful dinghies and the distinctive "Shetland Model" boats which compete in local sailing and rowing races.
The beach below the road around the head of the bay is partly man-made and was formerly used to dry salted cod and ling during the heyday of the line fishery from sixerns - open, six-oared boats - in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The German Merchants
For hundreds of years the salt fish trade was in the hands of German merchants of the Hanseatic League. The museum in the Symbister Pier House tells how ships from Hamburg, Bremen and Lubeck sailed to Shetland every summer, bringing seeds, cloth, iron tools, salt, spirits, luxury goods and hard currency. Generations of the same families made the voyage and some merchants are buried in the islands.
The restored Hanseatic booth in Symbister. This picturesque old building, restored with its dock and cargo hoist, was one of two Hansiatic booths, or warehouses, in Whalsay until the Germans were forced out by import duties after the 1707 Treaty of Union between England and Scotland.
The Auld Haa
Not all trade was legal. Tradition says a smugglers' tunnel ran under "Bremen Strasse", the road outside the booth, to the cellars of the Auld Haa, the former home of the Bruce lairds. According to legend, soil in the garden was shipped from Spain as ballast after the laird's ships had discharged fish cargoes there.
The Bruce family acquired most of Whalsay and oppressed the islanders for over 300 years. But they virtually bankrupted themselves building Symbister House, or the New Haa.
Now part of Whalsay Junior High School, this is the finest Georgian mansion in Shetland, built of granite blocks, rafted from a quarry in North Nesting, three miles away across a tide race. Despite the use of forced labour, the building cost over