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

    Fort William

    Sail through the Great Glen along the world famous Caledonian Canal for an unforgettable experience of Scotland's mountains, lochs and glens. All cruises depart from Banavie, just 5 minutes from Fort William.

  2. Scot Mountain Holidays


    Hiking Tour


    Boat of Garten

    Departure guarantee on all our guided tours, plus single occupancy for solo travelers at no additional cost (for Cairngorms National Park holidays). Guided hiking vacations in the Cairngorms National Park and across the Highlands - our speciality.

  3. Glenlivet Wildlife


    Wildlife Tour


    • 4 Wildlife Experience
    4 Wildlife Experience


    Off road Land Rover safaris in the Cairngorms National Park all year round. Discover iconic wildlife, stunning landscapes and fascinating heritage on a tour of Glenlivet Crown Estate with an expert local guide.

  4. Gradings


    Welcome to Castle Cruises Loch Ness. IV63 6TX Join us to enjoy Fresh Clean Loch Ness air, Magnificent Views of the Loch, Great Glen & Castle Urquhart, Facts, Legends & local History. We take pride in providing a more personal experience.

  5. Kintail Ranger Service


    Walking Tour


    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.

  6. Eda Frandsen Sailing


    Sailing Charter Companies



    Eda Frandsen offers the finest traditional sailing in the Western Isles of Scotland.

  7. Ness and Moray Yacht Charters


    Sailing Charter Companies



    Ness and Moray Yacht Charters offer bareboat sailing charters, skippered if required, from their readily accessible Inverness base at Seaport Marina, IV35LS [see googleMaps]

  8. 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.

  9. SeaXplorer


    Boat Tour


    • 5 Tour
    5 Tour


    SeaXplorer Fast Boat Wildlife Adventures. Go Faster, Go Further, See More!

  10. European Waterways Ltd


    Sailing Charter Companies


    The Highlands

    This is an eight passenger luxury hotel and sightseeing barge which sails along the Caledonian Canal.


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