Coastal & Water Adventures in Scotland

Let Wild Scotland's members show you the best Scotland has to offer.

Sea

From multi-day cruising to standup paddleboarding, 6 fun ways to enjoy Scotland's coasts and waters.

Whether it’s the satisfaction of cooling off on a hot summer’s day, the thrill of battling the elements or the peace that comes from immersing yourself in nature. From life aboard a multi-day cruise to navigating rapids on a standup paddleboard, there are many ways to experience Scotland's coasts and waters.

6 Fun Ways to Enjoy Scotland's Water

Does a day spent on or in the water make you feel especially happy? Do you love gazing out over crashing waves or skipping stones across calm lakes? Are you happiest wriggling into a wetsuit and pulling a buoyancy aid over your head, thrumming in anticipation of some water-based fun? Then Scotland is the perfect destination for you.

Scotland is defined by water! It's not just the rain that Scotland has become so notorious for. It's our vast coastline, the glistening lochs, the impressive waterfalls, the fish-filled rivers and 'uisge beathe', the water of life, or in other words whisky! Scotland wouldn't be Scotland without its relationship with water. The rain, never as bad or as long-lasting as people claim, is what makes our countryside so green. Photographers flock to capture our thundering cascades and impossibly turquoise coasts fringed with white sand beaches. Watersports such as standup paddleboarding, river tubing and sea kayaking have become increasingly popular and are widely available across the country.

People are invariably attracted to water for countless reasons and below are some of our favourites.

All of these activities are provided by Wild Scotland members, all of which stand for sustainable & responsible wildlife, adventure and activity tourism.

RIBs

Imagine cresting the waves in a RIB (a rigid inflatable powerboat), weaving in between the rocky islands on Scotland’s coast or speeding your way across a vast loch, with the wind whipping your hair and the spray of water on your face.

The beauty of powerboats is their ability to be both completely still and unobtrusive, or fantastically fun and fast. Their small size gives them access to places larger vessels just can't go like sea caves, narrow lagoons and small island piers, and so making RIBs perfect for sightseeing and wildlife watching.

A Wild Scotland top tip! An experience you shouldn't miss whilst on Scotland's west coast is visiting the Corryvreckan whirlpool. Approaching in an open-top RIB gets you as close and personal as you'd perhaps want to get to the world's third-largest natural whirlpool. Depending on the time of year and sea conditions, you might get to witness this natural phenomenon at its most impressive and even feel the pull of the current on your boat. No need to worry though, you’re in the safe hands of an experienced operator at all times and RIBs are widely considered to be very safe modes of transport on the water, especially in challenging conditions. On a calmer day, the whirlpool may appear smaller and less powerful but it’s a prime spot for seeing the fascinating wildlife attracted to these waters such as porpoises, whales and various seabirds.

Experience a RIB Boat Trip with one of our members

Wreckspeditions
Seafari Adventures Oban
Tiree Sea Tours
Blue Wild Tours
Sea Skye Tours

SUPS

A different way to explore Scotland's scenery is via standup paddleboard (SUP). For a tranquil day, circumnavigate your way around a calm loch, slowly paddling and taking in your surroundings in a relaxed manner. If it gets too windy to stand up or you're not feeling that confident, you can always go on your knees to secure your balance on the board.

Looking for more action? Try out river standup paddleboarding! It takes regular loch paddleboarding and kicks it up a notch. Navigate your way down gentle sections of river, the soft current adding enough of an extra challenge to entertain even the wildest of adrenaline junkies. Although a very accessible sport and fun for the whole family, paddleboarding is not to be underestimated! It can be quite the core workout maintaining your balance and manoeuvring your way around.

A Wild Scotland top tip! Looking for a new way to experience Yoga? Why not try SUP Yoga? Doing yoga on top of a paddleboard elevates the normal yoga experience to something quite phenomenal. Balancing on the water gives you a heightened sense of awareness of your breathing and your core muscles, whilst falling in the water is a fun and refreshing way to release all of your physical and mental tension, often leaving those who took a tumble feeling giddy and elated. More often than not SUP Yoga takes place outdoors, so being out in nature whilst doing yoga is an extra effective way to clear the head and refuel your mental energy.

Experience Standup Paddleboarding With one of our members - offering Loch and River SUPing as well as SUP yoga.

Stonehaven Sea Seafari
Basking Shark Scotland
Unique Adventure Tours Scotland
Ocean Vertical
Beyond Adventure
In Your Element
Puffin Dive Centre

Visit St Kilda

Wanting to push the boat out? A trip to the mysterious and awe-inspiring St Kilda, a far-flung archipelago sitting around 70km out into the Atlantic from the Outer Hebrides, would be just that.

This experience may come at a heftier price tag than that of other boat trips in Scotland, but it's well worth it. Not many will venture that far out, as the islands are not easily accessible, the crossing being long relies on having the right sea conditions. Depending on where you set sail from, it can take between 2 1/2 to 4 hours to make the journey each way. You won't regret any of it though when you spot the cliffs appearing on the horizon. St Kilda was awarded dual UNESCO world heritage status for its fascinating history and heritage and its current natural value, being home to one of the largest colonies of seabirds in the world with thousands upon thousands of gannets, fulmars and puffins nesting on the cliffs. The island was sparsely inhabited for around 4,000 years as the islanders were forced to abandon their remote lifestyle in the 1930s. Today you can explore the ruins of the abandoned village on Hirta, the main island of St Kilda, which is both fascinating and haunting.

A Wild Scotland top tip! Some Wild Scotland boat operators offer multi-day cruises to St Kilda, giving you more time to experience this wild and beautiful area.

Travel to St Kilda with one of our members;

St Hilda Sea Adventures
Sea Harris
Hebridean Adventures
Go to St Kilda
Stravaigin Sailing

Wildlife Watching Boat Tours

With Scotland having such an abundance of water in the form of coastline, rivers and lochs, unsurprisingly, it's a haven to an array of interesting wildlife that lives in or near the water. 

Out at sea and along the coast you stand the chance to see porpoises, dolphins, whales like minke whales and orcas, as well as basking sharks and seals. Near inland lochs, you can spot wildlife like otters, osprey and eagles. Scotland is also home to various significant seabird colonies nesting on cliffs across the country. Most notably the populations at Borerary and Dun in St Kilda, the gannet colony at Bass Rock, the Shiant Isles, Fair Isle in Shetland and the Manx Shearwater colony on the Isle of Rum.

One of the best ways to observe all of this life is on a boat trip. Tour waters that are known to be favoured by whales, look out for seals sunbathing on rocks and admire bird colonies from below, gazing up at the cliffs where countless seabirds soar above and make their nests.

A Wild Scotland Top Tip! Take joy in all the wildlife that you see on these trips. Wildlife sightings are never guaranteed, and those of the more ‘interesting’ variety like whales and eagles even less so. A harbour seal is just as mesmerising to watch as a basking shark, trust us. Getting up close and personal to wildlife is a privilege so be sure to respect the comfort and safety of the animals that you’re observing. Keep a safe distance, avoid disturbance and don’t get between a mother and its young.

Embark on a Wildlife Watching Boat Tour with one of our members

Seafari Adventures Oban
Dolphin Spirit
Tiree Sea Tours
Basking Shark Scotland
Bella Jane Boat Trips
Calum’s Seal Trips
Hebridean Adventures
Sea Skye Tours
Stonehaven Sea Seafari

Canyoning & Gorge Walking

You may have to swallow some nerves the first time you slide down a waterfall on your back, arms crossed, head back, breath held, but after that, you're hooked. Enjoy the rush of adrenaline as you careen down a drop, the brief feeling of weightlessness before a refreshing plunge deep into the water. Then emerge laughing, ready for the next adventure.

Canyoning and gorge walking are amazing riverside activities, both are varied, challenging and above all good fun. Test a range of your skills and exercise all of your muscles as you slip and scramble your way over rocks, leap into pools and if trying out canyoning, abseil into gorges and down waterfalls.

A Wild Scotland Top Tip! Although it can be quite intimidating committing yourself to travel down rivers and gorges, we’ve rarely seen sad faces emerge at the end. Trust your guide, safety equipment and if you’re ever uncomfortable don’t hesitate to take a step back and let your guide know, they’re always happy to help out. Whether that’s assisting you out and away or coaching you into overcoming your fear of jumping off a waterfall or roping down a rock.

 

Try Gorge Walking & Canyoning with one of our members

Ace Adventures
Beyond Adventure
Craggan Outdoors
In Your Element
The Canyoning Company
Unique Adventure Tours Scotland

 

Sailing the Inner Hebrides

Always wondered what life at sea is like? Imagining the sea air blowing through your hair as you look out over the water? Dreaming about dining on freshly caught seafood, lovingly prepared in a traditional ship's galley and fantasising about sleeping in a cabin, the constant gentle rocking motion of the ocean lulling you to sleep?

You could experience it all for real and join a multi-day cruise around Scotland's beautiful Inner Hebrides. The Inner Hebrides make up most of the islands on Scotland's west coast, they are the ones nearer to the mainland, and include the Isle of Skye, Mull, Islay, Tiree and many more. The coastal scenery is gorgeous here, known for the contrasting scenery of rugged mountains and dreamy beaches. A multi-day trip offers the opportunity to explore a range of island destinations like puffin spotting on Lunga, hill walking on the Isle of Rum and whisky tasting on Jura.

A Wild Scotland Top Tip! The nature of sailing holidays is that no two trips are the same. The weather will often decide your route or sometimes your skipper may have heard of some especially interesting wildlife being spotted in a certain area and you'll have the flexibility to give chase in a responsible way. Hop aboard and let go of your expectations of a fixed schedule and set plans. Enjoy the journey and everything that you may encounter.

Sail the Inner Hebrides with one of our members;

Stravaigin Sailing
Hebridean Adventures
Red Moon Cruises