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. 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.

  2. Gradings

    • 3 Wildlife Experience
    3 Wildlife Experience

    Findhorn

    Wild and scenic tours of the Moray Firth coastline and it's abundant wildlife- just bring your sense of adventure!

  3. Visual Nature - Wild Skye

    Type

    Wildlife Tour

    Gradings

    Skye

    Welcome to Visual Nature - Wild Skye. Fantastic boat trip to see stunning wildlife and scenery. Fishing trips available as well.

  4. Gradings

    Aviemore and the Cairngorms

    Wilderness Scotland is an award-winning adventure travel and ecotourism company specialising in wilderness holidays in the Highlands and Islands.

  5. Seascape Expeditions

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    Ullapool

    Seascape offers an exciting experience with trips out of Ullapool to the Summer Isles and surrounding area, aboard a RIB (rigid hull inflatable boat).

  6. Calum's Plockton Seal Trips

    Type

    Wildlife Tour

    Gradings

    • 4 Visitor Attraction
    4 Visitor Attraction

    Plockton

    Calum Mackenzie and the crew of the 'Sula Mhor' welcome you to Plockton, 'jewel of the Highlands', and home of Scotland's finest seal trips.

  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. Gradings

    Portree

    Welcome aboard the MV Stardust for an unforgettable experience with our 1-2 hour trips. See Skye from the sea, fabulous views and unbelievable wildlife.

  9. Northshots

    Type

    Photography Tour

    Gradings

    Kingussie

    Northshots Photo Tours and Hides

  10. Ecoventures

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    • 4 Wildlife Experience
    4 Wildlife Experience

    Cromarty

    Experience the thrill aboard high speed, offshore RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boats) and share firsthand the unique scenery, wildlife and history of the Moray Firth.

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