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. Birding Ecosse

    Type

    Tour Operators

    Gradings

    The Highlands

    Are you looking for bird watching tours in Scotland? Then welcome to Birding Ecosse the friendly, born and bred Scottish tour guide, offering fully guided birding tours tailor made for you.

  2. Go to St Kilda

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    Uig

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

  3. Sporting Scotland Ltd

    Type

    Tour Operators

    Gradings

    Ballindalloch

    Welcome to Sporting Scotland Ltd

  4. North West Cruises

    Type

    Wildlife Tour

    Gradings

    Gairloch

    North West Cruises offers boat trips around Gairloch and the beautiful Hebridean waters, with the opportunity to see whales, dolphins, basking sharks, seals and birds.

  5. Wild-Spirit

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    Kyle of Lochalsh

    Welcome onboard Wild-Spirit. Wildlife Watching at it's most exciting. 'Go further faster and See More' as we depart Kyle of Lochalsh in search of Whales, Dolphins, Orca, Porpoise, Seals, Sea Eagles, and Puffins. Fast, Safe and Fun.

  6. Summer Queen Cruises

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    Ullapool

    Summer Queen is the only boat from Ullapool that cruises through all the summer Isles and lands on the main island Tanera Mhor.

  7. Wild Highland Tours

    Type

    Wildlife Tour

    Gradings

    Acharacle

    Welcome to Wild Highland Tours

  8. 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.

  9. Isle of Skye Wildlife Tours

    Type

    Wildlife Tour

    Gradings

    Portree

    Welcome to Isle of Skye Wildlife Tours

  10. John O’Groats Ferries

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    John o' Groats

    John O' Groats Ferries offer Orkney Island Day Tours from John O' Groats and Inverness every summer morning. Wildlife Cruises daily from John O'Groats departing 2.30pm. 90 mins duration.

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