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12 scenic boat trips in Scotland

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From thrilling, high-speed RIB trips and serene canal boat journeys that are perfect for a family day out, to epic excursions out to some of the remotest islands in the country, there are a wide variety of boat experiences that are ideal for an unforgettable day trip in Scotland.

Take a look at our pick of 12 amazingly scenic boat tours in Scotland, from short wildlife-spotting excursions to longer Scottish island cruises.

Bass Rock

The Bass Rock seen from the Seafari Explorer

The Bass Rock seen from the Seafari Explorer

  • Depart: Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick
  • Cost per adult: £24 – £135
  • Length of trip: 1 hour – half day

Located in the middle of the Firth of Forth, the Bass Rock is the remains of an ancient volcano and is now home to a huge population of gannets – over 150,000 in peak season. Book your boat trip with the Scottish Seabird Centre to see the rock and its resident bird populations up close.

Isle of May

Puffins, Isle of May

Puffins, Isle of May

Located at the eastern edge of the Firth of Forth, the beautiful Isle of May is home to a huge variety of seabirds who visit the island over the summer months to breed, including puffins, guillemots and razorbills.

Forth Bridges and Inchcolm Island

  • Depart: Hawes Pier, South Queensferry
  • Cost per adult:
  • Length of trip: 3 hours (includes 1.5 hours on the island)

See the stunning Forth Bridges from a new angle on a boat tour from South Queensferry out to Inchcolm Island. On your 1.5 hour visit to the island you can see the well-preserved architecture of Inchcolm Abbey, which dates from 1235, and the lovely views around the island.

Eyemouth RIB Trips

  • Depart: Eyemouth
  • Cost per adult: £20

Explore the rugged coastline around Eyemouth and St Abbs on a high-speed RIB boat with Eyemouth RIB Trips – guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping! See the picturesque coves and caves and keep your eyes peeled for seals and seabirds.

Canal boating on the Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel

  • Depart: Falkirk Wheel
  • Cost per adult: £13.50
  • Length of trip: 50 minutes

Take in the views as you’re swept high into the air aboard your canal boat on The Falkirk Wheel. This magnificent engineering marvel is the world’s only rotating boat lift and was ingeniously designed to connect the Forth & Clyde Canal with the Union Canal.

Steamship Sir Walter Scott on Loch Katrine

Steamship Sir Walter Scott on Loch Katrine seen from Ben A'an

Steamship Sir Walter Scott on Loch Katrine seen from Ben A’an

  • Depart: Trossachs Pier, Loch Katrine
  • Cost per adult: £15 (sightseeing cruise) or £18 (return journey to Stronachlachar Pier)
  • Length of trip: 1 hour sightseeing cruise or 2 hour return journey to Stronachlachar Pier

Hop aboard Steamship Sir Walter Scott to soak up the stunning views around Loch Katrine, located in the magnificent Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. The steamship has been operating on the loch since 1900 – giving you the chance to travel as the Victorians and Edwardians once did on a stylish cruise around the loch.

Three Isles Tour from Isle of Skye

  • Depart: Elgol, Isle of Skye
  • Cost per adult: £60
  • Length of trip: 3.5 – 4 hours

Search for wildlife, such as dolphins, whales, eagles and puffins, as you tour three unique Inner Hebridean islands with AquaXplore. The Puffin Run/Three Isles Tour visits the enchanting islands of Soay, Canna and Rum. You can choose between a high-speed AquaXplore RIB or the more traditional island cruiser.

Staffa

Made up of hexagonal basalt columns which were formed millions of years ago by lava, the enchanting island of Staffa has an other-worldly appearance that has to be seen to be really appreciated. Visit the island to see the puffins and spectacular Fingal’s Cave.

Corryvreckan whirlpool

  • Companies:
    • Seafari Adventures:
      • Depart: Easdale, near Oban
      • Cost per adult: £45 – £55
      • Length of trip: 2 – 3 hours
    • Sealife Adventures:
      • Depart: Isle of Seil
      • Cost per adult: £52 – £80 (during July and August prices increase by £4)
      • Length of trip: 3 – 5 hours
    • Craignish Cruises:
      • Depart: Ardfern
      • Cost per adult: £34 – £98
      • Length of trip: 2 – 5 hours
    • Jura Boat Tours:
      • Depart: Isle of Jura
      • Cost per adult: £40
      • Length of trip: 3 hours

Book a trip to see the world’s third largest whirlpool, located to the northern tip of the Isle of Jura, off Scotland’s west coast. The Corryvreckan whirlpool is particularly dramatic during new and full moons and many of the tour operators combine trips to the whirlpool with wildlife searches, where you might see dolphins, whales, seals and more.

St Kilda

  • Companies:
    • Kilda Cruises:
      • Depart: Leverburgh, Isle of Harris
      • Cost per adult: £225
      • Length of trip: 11.5 hours
    • Sea Harris:
      • Depart: Leverburgh, Isle of Harris
      • Cost per adult: £205
      • Length of trip: 11 hours
    • Uist Sea Tours:
      • Depart: Isle of Berneray
      • Cost per adult: £175
      • Length of trip: 10 hours
    • Hebridean Sea Tours:
      • Depart: Isle of Barra/Isle of Eriskay
      • Cost per adult: £200
      • Length of trip: 12 hours
    • Go To St Kilda:
      • Depart: Stein Jetty, Isle of Skye
      • Cost per adult: £260
      • Length of trip: 13.5 hours

The dramatic archipelago of St Kilda lies 41 miles west of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides and is the UK’s only dual UNESCO World Heritage Site. This boat trip is an epic one – with crossings taking between 2.5 and 4 hours one way – but it’s a trip that you’ll never forget. Land on the island of Hirta to see the abandoned houses (the last remaining islanders were evacuated in 1930) and seabirds – almost 1 million!

Sea stacks in the Outer Hebrides

  • Depart: Miavaig, Isle of Lewis
  • Cost per adult: £42
  • Length of trip: 2 hours

Head out on a fast RIB with Seatrek to see the impressive sea stacks, islands and towering cliffs on Lewis’ west coast. As well as admiring the towering cliffs (90 metres high in places!) look out for seals sunning themselves on the rocks and kittiwakes sheltering in sea caves.

See more boat trips in the Outer Hebrides.

Seabirds at Noss National Nature Reserve in Shetland

Departing from Shetland’s main town of Lerwick, head east to the beautiful nature reserve of Noss island, one of Europe’s finest wildlife sites. Over 25,000 gannets make their homes here, along with numerous other seabirds. See them plunging into the water to catch fish before using their impressive 1.8 metre wingspan to power back into the air.

Search for more boat tours in Scotland, plan an island hopping adventure or read our ideas for calming escapes by the water.

 

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