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Highland Boat Trips

The Scottish Highlands and water are almost synonymous.  With over 30,000 lochs and lochans and miles of coastline, the Highlands of Scotland offer spectacular opportunities for the water lover to get out on a boat.  Boat trips are one of the most popular ways to view the stunning and diverse scenery as well as take in the wildlife of the Scottish Highlands.  You don’t have to pilot your own boat to see Scotland from this special perspective.  Just book a tour on one of the many commercial and charter boats available.  Whether you wish to cruise down the Caledonian Canal, meander amongst the Summer Isles, or go whale watching off the Highland coast, there are any number of wonderful boat trips to choose from, from the most leisurely to wildly adventurous.

Off the west coast of the Scottish Highlands you will find the Inner Hebrides and the Outer Hebrides or Western Isles.  The Inner Hebrides include the islands of Arran (known as Scotland in miniature), Bute, Iona and Mull, Islay and Jura, Staffa and Tiree, and the small isles (Eigg, Rumm, Canna, and Muck).  These are all only accessible by boat, ferry, or small plane.  Of course, there is also the Isle of Skye, the largest and most popular and full of castles and waterfalls.  It is now accessible by car over the bridge from Lochalsh.  The Outer Hebrides include Harris and Lewis, the Uists, Barra, and St Kilda, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  With rugged and varied coastlines, sea stacks and caves, marine life and birds, these islands offer fantastic sightseeing by boat and ferry.

From Gairloch on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands you can take marine wildlife cruises, Hebridean whale watching cruises, and glass-bottomed boats.  Gairloch also offers sea angling trips.  Boating amongst the beautiful Western and Hebridean Isles is not to be missed.  From Ullapool, also on the west coast, you can take boat trips out to the Summer Isles, in summer only, of course.  You will see abundant wildlife including seals and dolphins and a wide variety of seabirds.  Seascape Expeditions, out of Ullapool, organizes adventure boat trips to the Summer Isles.  These two-hour trips take place on an 8.5 metre RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) and are an exhilarating way to see these rugged and beautiful islands.  Misty Isle boat trips run from Elgol on Skye into Loch Coruisk in the heart of the Cuillen Hills.  The Road to the Isles Boat Trip runs from Mallaig to Knoydart and to Skye.  As you would imagine, the scenery is spectacular.  The west coast of Scotland offers myriad ways to enjoy the coastline and island scenery from the boat trip of your choice.  For a couple of hours, a half- or full-day, or a several day cruise; from sightseeing and whale watching to scuba diving and spelunking;  boat trips around the Hebrides and Western Isles will not disappoint.

If luxury cruising is more your style, be sure to check out the Hebridean Princess.  This 5-star luxury cruise liner takes you around the Hebrides in style.  Cruises are all-inclusive, and are reminiscent of the Golden Age of cruising.  Cabins are spacious, dining is gourmet, and public spaces are elegant.  The Hebridean Princess sails from March to November out of Oban, and cruises include castles and gardens of the north, Hebridean taster, Hebridean outposts, and Gaelic trilogy to name a few.  Create a memory of a lifetime and book a cruise on the Hebridean Princess today.

Along the coast of Lochaber, Sea Explorer runs fast boat wildlife watching trips.  If you are in Fort William, you can book your adventure there, or connect with them at Ballachulish.  Their trips operate around Loch Leven and the Sound of Linnhe.  You will have the majestic peaks of Glencoe as your backdrop for this fast-paced, exciting boat trip adventure. 

The Caledonian Canal is another spectacular option for sightseeing by boat.  Cruises of all durations and types are offered on this world-famous waterway.  West Highland Sailing and Cruises offers boating holidays through the Canal, both via sailing yachts and luxury motor cruisers.  You can sail from Laggan Lochs all the way to Loch Ness.  Itineraries are suggested and charts provided.  Fingal Cruising offers holiday barge cruises on the Caledonian Canal, and will provide all kinds of optional activities for your holiday as well.  The “classic cruise” is a seven-day cruise covering the entire length of the Canal from Banavie to Inverness.  There is also a four-day mini cruise if you are looking for something shorter in duration.  For just a portion of the canal, sail up Loch Ness from Fort Augustus on Augusta Boat Services and Cruise Loch Ness.  Loch Ness Express runs daily trips up the loch with hop-on-hop-off options at Foyers, Inverfarigaig, and Urquhart Castle.  Jacobite Cruises offer short trips on the northern portion of Loch Ness and run combined tours of Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, and Culloden Battlefield.  The Loch Ness and Great Glen Cruise Company sail the Spirit of Loch Ness which runs three- and six-day trips between Inverness and Fort William. 

See the eastern coastline of the Scottish Highlands by taking a boat tour from Inverness or the Black Isle.  Inverness Dolphin Cruises run out of Inverness Harbour and will give you a whole other viewpoint of this region and its coastline as well as take you out to see dolphins, seals, and seabirds.  EcoVentures run another RIB trip in the Cromarty Firth, where you will go looking for porpoises, dolphins, seals, and whales.  The tiny village Avoch provides daily boat trips in the summer to look for dolphins.  Phoenix Boat Trips leaves out of Nairn and takes you past Fort George, as you head on your way to search for whales and dolphins.  This two-hour cruise operates from March to October. 

Don’t forget the Northern Highlands when you are taking boat trips on your next holiday.  Caithness Seacoast Ltd operates out of Wick Harbour and takes you out on a geo explorer boat.  You will sea castles, sea caves and stacks, wildlife, lighthouses, and fishing harbours on this super trip.  You may even see puffins while you’re out exploring.  The MV Stormdrift II runs out of Scrabster Harbour, Britain’s most northerly mainland port.  While they primarily operate fishing cruises, with gear and tackle provided, you can also arrange for incredible sight-seeing and wildlife cruises along the Caithness coastline.  Trips are run as full day, half day, and evening outings. 

These are only a few suggestions for boat trips and cruising around the Scottish Highlands.  Whatever your pleasure, a boat trip can be found that suits your needs to a tee.  Sightseeing by boat is highly popular up here in the Scottish Highlands, and you will be amazed at the incredible, breathtaking scenery, the diverse wildlife, and the impressive and dramatic castles and historic sites dotting the coastlines, whether along the sea or the many lochs.  Get out on a boat and view the Highlands of Scotland in a whole new way.  Wherever you are staying for your Highland holiday, an exciting boat trip is sure to be within a day’s reach.  Book yours today!