What says ‘summer’ better than cruising along the water in the sunshine? And while sunbathing on a boat in the Mediterranean isn’t quite within our grasps just yet, there are plenty of boat trips you can take right here in Scotland, enjoying the great wildlife and scenery our country has to offer. We just need to cross our fingers for some Mediterranean weather…

Shellfish Safaris from Dry Island, Gairloch

HeraldScotland:

Ian McWhinney has become a bit of a local celebrity in recent years. Ian, his wife Jess and their three children are the sole permanent inhabitants of Dry Island, near Gairloch, which they refer to as the microstate of ‘Islonia’. Their uniquely isolated existence has seen them subject to several TV documentaries, but the McWhinney family are happy to open up the island to visitors from far and wide through their self-catering cottages. Ian also runs his very own ‘Shellfish Safari’ boat tours, bringing up to eight passengers out on his working fishing boat to join in as he pulls his creels from the sea. It is incredibly interactive, and Ian will give you a chance to handle some of the catch as well as explaining the history of the area and the landscape. He will throw back any creatures that are unsuitable to be caught, but the shellfish that is acceptable will be offered out among the passengers to bring home and enjoy. And as an added bonus, every participant on the Shellfish Safari will be offered a free Islonia passport– with the island now boasting more than 14,000 honorary residents.

Dry Island, Badachro, Gairloch, Ross-shire

Adults £25, Children £20

Departures run every weekday, starting at 11am, with three trips running per day and then every 2 prebooking required), every day, Monday-Friday

Prebook by phoning 01445 741263, or by visiting shellfishsafaris.co.uk

 

Isle of May Landing Trip from the Scottish Seabird Centre

HeraldScotland:

The Isle of May National Nature Reserve -known as the ‘Jewel of the Forth’- is home to the largest puffin colony on the east coast of Scotland. In summer the island’s birds are busy with their young, with more than a quarter of a million seabirds calling the island home at the peak of the breeding season. You can experience it up close via an Isle of May tour from the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick. After zipping across the Forth in a high-speed RIB, you will be taken ashore on the island and welcomed by a NatureScot warden, who will explain how to avoid disturbing the nests and what birds to look out for. You can then either take a tour with the guide or simply wander round the island on your own: marvelling at the puffins, guillemots, razorbills, fulmars, kittiwakes and shags. If the weather is favourable then the return trip also includes a circumference of Bass Rock and its colony of gannets.

Scottish Seabird Centre, The Harbour, North Berwick

Departures every day through July and August (less frequently thereafter)

Duration 4 hours, with at least 2.5 hours on the island

Adult £50, children (aged 7 and over) £42

Check availability and book online at seabird-centre.seafari-edinburgh.co.uk

 

Loch Tay Safari, Perthshire

HeraldScotland:

Loch Tay Safaris boast that their ‘Iolaire’ boat is the biggest and fastest on Loch Tay, with twin 300HP engines capable of speeds of more than 40 knots (45 mph). Yet although you will feel very much at one with nature, the boat also has comfortable seats and a heated cabin to protect you from the worst of the Scottish weather. The enthusiastic on-board team will give you plenty of information about the scenery, geology of the loch and local history, with limited passenger numbers (due to Covid) giving you the chance to ask plenty of questions and interact with the guides. Magnificent ospreys have been known to be spotted circling overhead or resting on the water so make sure to keep your eyes peeled while onboard.

Kenmore, Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Adults £35, children £20

Duration 90 minutes

Tours depart every day at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm

Book online at highlandsafaris.net/lochtaysafaris

Corryvreckan Wildlife Tour, Oban

HeraldScotland:

Thrill seekers: this one’s for you. Departing from Easdale, the Seafari Adventures team will take you on an open Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) to the Gulf of Corryvreckan, home to the third largest whirlpool in the world. The whirlpool has been subject to a huge amount of folklore and fear over the years but its unpredictability -suddenly appearing and then disappearing depending on the tide- makes it a very dangerous stretch of water. Fear not though: the experienced Seafari skipper will keep you at a safe distance to observe the whirlpool, and its wildlife, while fully kitted out with lifejackets and waterproofs. You can try to spot dolphins, seals, otters, whales, porpoises, and sea eagles while onboard, with seals and porpoises most commonly seen.

Seafari Adventures, Easdale, Oban

Adults £45, children £35

Duration 2 hours

Tours depart every day throughout the day, weather permitting

Book online at seafari.co.uk/oban