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. Isle of Skye Yachts

    Type

    Sailing Charter Companies

    Gradings

    Ardvasar

    Isle of Skye Yachts offer a varied selection of boats for your holiday so you are sure to find something to your taste.

  2. 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.

  3. Brocholme Croft

    Type

    Wildlife Tour

    Gradings

    Fort William & Lochaber

  4. Skye Island Tours

    Type

    Tour Guides

    Gradings

    Kyleakin

    SKYE ISLAND TOURS – Small-group tours to the Isle of Skye from Scottish cities and Day tours starting from South Skye.

  5. Sporting Scotland Ltd

    Type

    Tour Operators

    Gradings

    Ballindalloch

    Welcome to Sporting Scotland Ltd

  6. Wild Highland Tours

    Type

    Wildlife Tour

    Gradings

    Acharacle

    Welcome to Wild Highland Tours

  7. Gradings

    • 4 Wildlife Experience
    4 Wildlife Experience

    Gairloch

    Unique to Gairloch 'Sealife' Glass Bottom Boat, the only cruise to combine looking below the waves while enjoying the magnificent wildlife and birdlife of Gairloch Bay.

  8. 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).

  9. Cruise Loch Ness

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    Fort Augustus

    Cruise Loch Ness aboard the Royal Scot from Fort Augustus.

  10. Western Isles Cruises

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    Mallaig

    Welcome to Western Isles Cruises

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