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. 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.

  2. Gradings

    • 5 Tour
    5 Tour

    Inverness

    Out on the dark waters of Loch Ness, everything seems to take on a new perspective. Surrounded by hills and with deep waters below, it's easy to relax and enjoy the breathtaking views as you cruise the loch in one of our vessels.

  3. Diver's Eye Boat Trips

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    Skye & Lochalsh

    Let us welcome you aboard for a 'Seaskye Adventure' in the captivating North West coast of Skye.

  4. Misty Isle Boat Trips

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    Elgol

    Visit Loch Coruisk in the heart of the Cuillin Mountains with Misty Isle Boat Trips. New for 2013. Trips to Canna to see the puffins and to the Isle of Rum. Also whale/wildlife spotting cruises on board the MV Heather Grace.

  5. 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.

  6. Gradings

    • 5 Wildlife Experience
    5 Wildlife Experience

    Aviemore

    Guided wildlife excursions, in small, friendly groups with an experienced local nature watcher, in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

  7. Bella Jane Boat Trips

    Type

    Boat Tour

    Gradings

    • 4 Tour
    4 Tour

    Elgol

    Experience the Unforgettable on the Isle of Skye - Spectacular Wildlife and Sightseeing tours to stunning Loch Coruisk and the seal colony in the heart of the dramatic Cuillin Mountains.

  8. 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.

  9. Kintail Ranger Service

    Type

    Walking Tour

    Gradings

    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.

  10. 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.

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