Being lucky enough to have water on three sides of our country, you can’t go much more than 40 miles from the sea in Scotland. With that in mind, we have rounded up some of the best boat trips that you can take across the country: both ferries and smaller charters that offer a great way to see some of the best scenery Scotland has to offer.

1. Corryvreckan Wildlife Tour, Oban

Seafari Adventures, Easdale, Oban


Adults £42 and children £32

Sailings throughout the day, March until October

Bumping across the waves in an open 10m inflatable boat (RIB) is enough of a thrill, but on this tour the adrenaline rush culminates in a visit to the Gulf of Corryvreckan, home to the third largest whirlpool in the world. The whirlpool flows four times a day with its strength dependent on the tide, but don’t worry – lifejackets and waterproofs are provided. You can also see dolphins, seals, otters and sea eagles while onboard.

2. Sundowner Cruise, Loch Tay

Loch Tay Safaris, Pier Road, Kenmore, Perthshire

01887 820071

Adults £25, Children £15

Daily until November at 6pm

If you are looking for tranquillity, then look no further. This evening cruise captures Loch Tay in a still, almost mystical setting, with a cloudless night providing spectacular views of the sun setting behind Ben Lawers. To make the trip feel even more special, a glass of Prosecco or Elder Flower Pressé is included in the price. The crew will give information on the local area and are particularly good with children – although you might prefer to leave them at home in order to make the most of the peaceful atmosphere.

3. Rebellion Tour by Jacobite, Loch Ness

Dochgarroch Loch, Inverness


Prices vary, but usually £34 for adults and £27 for children

Departures throughout the day

This four-hour tour takes you along Thomas Telford’s famous Caledonian Canal and onto Loch Ness, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding hills and Bona Lighthouse. Passengers then disembark at the iconic Urquhart Castle – entry fee included – and have two hours to explore its grounds. And when you return to the boat, you might even be lucky enough to spot Nessie…

4. Dolphin Trips Avoch

Harbour Office Pierhead, Avoch, Black Isle

01381 622383

Adults £18, children aged 3- 12 £12

Departures every hour, on the hour (as demand requires)

This fast, somewhat splashy boat will take you out to the area where dolphins are likely to be feeding, to give you the best chance of seeing them – with the animals frequently known to swim underneath the boat while passengers are onboard. But this doesn’t mean disturbing the dolphins, as the crew will do their upmost to respect the majestic creatures and ensure they aren’t disturbed. The skipper is funny, friendly and very knowledgeable, and will make your trip extra special with his stories of the local area.

5. Shellfish Safaris, Gairloch

Dry Island, Badachro, Gairloch, Ross-shire

01445 741263

Adults £17.50 Children £12.50 (free if no shellfish seen)

Departures start at 9am and then every 2 hours after that (prebooking required)

If you are looking for an authentic trip then you can’t get much better than this: fisherman Ian McWhinney takes up to 10 passengers out on his working fishing boat to join in as he pulls in his creels from the sea. As well as explaining the history of the area and the landscape, Ian will give you a chance to handle some of the catch – with the large starfish particularly impressive if he manages to find them. He will throw back any creatures that are undersized or not suitable to be caught, but among the shellfish that is acceptable you can take some home if you remember to bring a bucket. Ian also sometimes offers passengers the chance to cast off a line and try and catch some mackerel on their own.

6. Loch Lomond Speedboat Pub Tour

Loch Lomond Leisure, Luss Pier, Luss,

0333 577 0715

Prices and times vary depending on package

Pub crawls by foot are old news; pub crawls by boat are the future. This trip is great fun to do in a group of friends, as you are sped across the waters of Loch Lomond from one pub to another. There are different options depending on how many pubs you want to see and whether or not you have a meal at one of them, but the knowledgeable and chatty crew are happy to accommodate whatever you would prefer. If the Scottish weather doesn’t provide tropical temperatures they provide passengers with waterproof, fleece-lined ponchos to keep out the chill. The speedboats are immaculately clean and almost new.

7. Aberdeen Harbour Tours

Clyde Cruises Office, Commercial Quay West, Aberdeen Harbour, Aberdeen


Adults £20, under 16s £10

Departures daily during school holidays, varies thereafter – booking in advance is necessary

You might not expect Aberdeen Harbour to be a haven for dolphins and seals but the harbour’s entrance is a popular spot for dolphins and a great place to look back towards the city as the skipper talks you through the history of the area. And as a treat, he will let children ‘drive’ the boat, to give them something to talk about for weeks to come. The vessel itself is in a great condition and is stable while on the water, which will help those who may be nervous or suffer from seasickness.

8. Wemyss Bay to Rothesay Ferry

Shore Road, Wemyss Bay, Inverclyde

0800 066 5000

Foot passenger £3.05, Car £10.95

Departures frequent in summer

It might only be 35 minutes long, but this short trip packs in plenty of great views across the Firth of Clyde and beyond. The sailing was popular in times gone by with Glaswegians heading ‘doon the water’, and although package holidays have since soared in popularity the ferry trip still has the same charm. When you arrive on Bute there is plenty to see – including the Mount Stuart gothic mansion.

9. Wildlife Cruise, John O’Groats

John O'Groats Ferries, John O'Groats Pier, Caithness

01955 611353

Adults £18, children under 16 half price, under 5s free

Every day at 2.30pm

Cruising for 90 minutes from John O’Groats out into the rugged Pentland Firth, this trip offers the chance to see stunning scenery. Puffins and grey seals have been spotted, but perhaps most exciting of all are the groups of killer whales that have been regularly spotted from the cruise. The company has been named as a ‘recommended boat operator’ by the Sea Watch Foundation for helping conserve whales and dolphins, so you can enjoy the views of the sea life with peace of mind. Just be aware that the ferry is quite small, so if you suffer from seasickness it may be worthwhile taking something for it in advance.

10. Anstruther Pleasure Cruises

Middle Pier, Anstruther, Fife

07957 585200

Adults £26, Concession £23, child (3 - 15) £13, children under 3 free

One departure per day, times vary

The Isle of May is renowned for its extensive seabird population, with guillemots, razorbills and up to 120,000 puffins nesting on the island. This five-hour cruise gives you a few hours to explore the island with the help of rangers, as well as a trip round its circumference to enjoy the scenery. The boat is reasonably large and can take up to 100 passengers, so it is a bit less bouncy for those who aren’t a great fan of the water. It has on-board drinks and snacks service.