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. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Wild-Spirit

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    • 4 Wildlife Experience
    4 Wildlife Experience

    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. 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.

  7. Free Spirit Boat Hire

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    Fort William

    Spend a spectacular day out with the Scottish Canals Neptune Staircase Activities and Free Spirit Boat Hire. We offer attractions for all the family in the Fort William area. Come and experience these Eco-friendly, silent, electric boats.

  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. Classic Tours Highlands

    Type

    Chauffeur Tour

    Gradings

    Grantown on Spey

    Classic Tours Highlands presents to you some of the most desirable British Iconic Cars from the 1950’s and 60’s.

  10. Speyside Tours

    Type

    Whisky Tour

    Gradings

    Dufftown

    Welcome to Speyside Tours

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