Boat charters and wildlife cruises in the Highlands

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  • Dolphins on the Moray Firth
    Dolphins on the Moray Firth

The wild and unpolluted waters surrounding the dramatic Highland coastline are more than just a blue fringe to fine scenery. They are well worth exploring in their own right so take a wildlife cruise around the inner Moray Firth or from the western seaboard and experience the resident aquatic wildlife such as whales, dolphins and seals.

East coast

The bottlenose dolphins of the Moray Firth are perhaps the most famous cetacean species in the northern waters. Here, the cool rich feeding grounds allow them to grow bigger than bottlenose dolphins anywhere else in the world.

Around the inner Moray Firth, many different operators offer wildlife-watching cruises and most operate between March and October.

To ensure maximum enjoyment, and the welfare of the dolphins, choose a member of the Dolphin Space Programme (DSP) for your excursion. DSP accredited operators are committed to providing high quality wildlife watching trips which do not cause disturbance to marine wildlife and are trained on how to approach a wide range of marine life including seals, seabirds and basking sharks, as well as cetaceans such as the minke and killer whales which can also sometimes be seen here.

Alternatively, if you'd rather stick to dry land, the mouth of Cromarty Firth, Chanonry Point near Fortrose, North or South Kessock beside Inverness and Fort George are all good shore watching places.

West coast

The western seaboard also offers excellent cetacean watching. Boat companies cover large stetches of the Highland west such as Lochaber, Ardnamurchan and Wester Ross sailing out of Mallaig, Armadale, Kyle of Lochalsh and Gairloch.

Various dolphin species can be seen of the west coast, as well as minke and killer whales. Harbour porpoises,the smallest of the species, are also spotted regularly.

If you stop off at Handa, near Tarbet, north of Scourie, you'll also see one of Britain's largest guillemot colony, plus puffins, razorbills, great and Arctic skuas.

The experienced and knowledgeable skippers leading these cruises give you your best chance of seeing these amazing creatures in their natural element. And while sightings can't be absolutely guaranteed, there's also the thrill of encountering something really special such as Atlantic white-sided dolphins, pilot whales or even sperm whales which have all been see in Highland waters.

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  1. Gradings

    Spean Bridge

    Join Wild West to look for Scotland's "Big Five" of red deer, golden eagle, otter, harbour seal and red squirrel. These can be found on a single day trip. Red deer safaris, searchlight safaris and tailor made private safaris also available.

  2. Go to St Kilda

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    Uig

    Welcome to Go to St Kilda - Day trips to St Kilda from Skye.

  3. Hebridean Whale Cruises

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    Gairloch

    Welcome to Hebridean Whale Cruises. Operating whale watching and wildlife cruises from Gairloch, on Scotland's spectacular north west coast. We also offer Chandlery goods, fishing tackle and permits to fish in local rivers and lochs.

  4. Gradings

    • 5 Tour
    5 Tour

    Inverness

    Out on the dark waters of Loch Ness, everything seems to take on a new perspective. Surrounded by hills and with deep waters below, it's easy to relax and enjoy the breathtaking views as you cruise the loch in one of our vessels.

  5. Gradings

    • 5 Wildlife Experience
    5 Wildlife Experience

    Aviemore

    Guided wildlife excursions, in small, friendly groups with an experienced local nature watcher, in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

  6. Spirit of Adventure

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    Kyle of Lochalsh

    Join us on a fully guided wildlife adventure , set amongst the most spectacular scenery in Britain. Binoculars provided. Toilets and refreshments available. Sea Eagles, Puffins, Whales, Dolphin and Seals all live and visit our local area.

  7. Glenloy Wildlife

    Type

    Wildlife Tour

    Gradings

    Fort William

    Glenloy Wildlife offers all inclusive wildlife holidays based in the Scottish Highlands. Based in Glenloy Lodge with comfortable accommodation, good food and visiting pine martens.

  8. Kintail Ranger Service

    Type

    Walking Tour

    Gradings

    Lochalsh area

    The National Trust for Scotland rangers based at Kintail offer guided mountain walks and sea kayaking from their beautiful west coast location in the Highlands.

  9. Dolphin Space Programme

    Type

    Coach Tour

    Gradings

    Moray Firth

    Hoping to see the famous Moray Firth dolphins or other marine wildlife like seals, porpoises, whales and seabirds? Look no further.

  10. Spindrift Boat Trips

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    Skye & Lochalsh

    Come aboard Spindrift for a wildlife watching and island visit. Visit the beautiful Isle of Rona or the Isle of Raasay from Portree pier.

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