At one time all that existed here were a series of tiny settlements either on the shore or just above and behind it. Their names still exist and help explain why what is by no means a large village seems to be divided into a considerable number of separate "districts". From north to south these include: Kingscross, Auchencairn, Knockenkelly, North Kiscadale, South Kiscadale, and Largymore.
The origins of some of these settlements are very ancient. On the hillside behind Largymore at the southern end of Whiting Bay are the Giants Graves, a prehistoric burial site. Meanwhile, at the village's northern end, Kingscross Point, a dun or fortified farmstead has been found dating back the better part of two thousand years. Rather more recently, Kingscross was used by Vikings as a settlement and burial site, and it has been suggested that the bay to the south was named after them, with "Viking Bay" later becoming corrupted to Whiting Bay. Kingscross also achieved a footnote in history when it became the place from which Robert the Bruce sailed for Ayrshire in February 1307, en route to regaining control of his kingdom from the English.
The transformation of a group of tiny settlements into the Whiting Bay we see today began with the establishment of a ferry to Saltcoats in 1790. This was followed from the 1830s by the arrival of steamers from Glasgow and elsewhere in the Clyde Estuary. Clearance of Arran's inland crofting areas from the 1830s produced a demand for more accommodation on the coast, here and elsewhere on the island. But of all Arran's villages, Whiting Bay seems to have attracted the most upmarket clientele, and the result was a succession of fine villas being built along the landward side of the road running behind the bay. Meanwhile, a golf course was established in 1895, as were tennis courts, a bowling club and a putting green. The building of a new pier in 1901, which allowed steamers to land passengers directly rather than via flit boats, only confirmed the growth of the village. A village hall was added in 1926.
Until the late 1950s, steamer services to Arran from the mainland called at Whiting Bay as well as Brodick. The change to a Brodick-only car ferry service in 1957 led to a decline in the fortunes of Whiting Bay. The old steamer pier closed in the early 1960s. Today the village pier is a very modest affair, projecting out from the shore close to the line of tiny shops backing onto the sea in the centre of the village.
Today's Whiting Bay retains much of the quiet gentility of an earlier era. The grand villas remain, with many - especially towards the north end of the village - having been converted to hotels, guest houses and restaurants. The result is that Whiting Bay offers a significant proportion of the accommodation available on Arran. The Whiting Bay Golf Club continues to thrive, while, for those with more limited golfing aspirations, the putting green established on the seaward side of the main road near the centre of the village also remains open for business.