The Hebridean Whale Trail

Wildlife lovers flock to the Inner Hebrides where the coastlines are a haven of natural wilderness, and there are many places where whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks and many wondrous creatures can be spotted. Each site on The Hebridean Whale Trail is special and will offer a tantalising opportunity to spot some sea creatures.

The trail will take you to dramatic headlands and sea lochs, to white sandy beaches and bustling harbours. You might not make it to every site on the trail, but whether you spend some time exploring many of the areas or just dipping your toe in by visiting one site, this trail will take you to some truly incredible places and open your eyes to the mysterious world beneath the waves. 

Oban

From here there are endless possibilities for adventure, as many a journey along the Hebridean Whale Trail will start here. Very much a seaside town, a wander along the seafront is a feast for the senses; sea food, sea air and a chorus of seabirds. It’s rare to see whales or dolphins right in the bay but look out for seals, jellyfish and otters. A sight that never fails to delight are the many black guillemots that call the bay their home. These charismatic birds have striking black and white bodies and bright red legs making them easily recognisable.

Tobermory

Tobermory is also home to the Hebridean Whale Trail centre, a celebration of whales, dolphins and porpoises at the heart of the Hebrides. The colourful seafront of Tobermory is an iconic picture, bright buildings cluster around a beautiful bay, bobbing with boats. Occasionally bottlenose dolphins are seen playing amongst the boats, and you might spot a harbour porpoise or seal further out, away from the bustle of the bay.

Glengorm

Located on the north coast of Mull, and has spectacular views where many wondrous creatures are found. The photogenic castle has a commanding vantage that looks out towards the Isles of Coll and Tiree, and the wider Hebrides beyond. Bottlenose dolphins hug the coast here, sometimes swimming very close by. Further out in the deeper water, look for the long dark backs of minke whales as they surface. With wildlife, nature and heritage galore, Glengorm is not to be missed! 

Duart Castle

The iconic Duart Castle has a truly majestic viewpoint overlooking waters teeming with sealife. This is the ancient home of the Clan Maclean, the castle is open for visitors and even from the car park you have spectacular views for dolphin-spotting! Have a close look in the rough water towards the lighthouse on the Isle of Lismore - harbour porpoises are often spotted here. If you really want to whale-watch in style then head up to the battlements or from the beautiful Sea Room inside the castle where even on damp days you can spot sea life from shelter.

Isle of Iona

Iona is well known as a place for spiritual pilgrimage. Others are drawn to Iona for the peaceful atmosphere, strong sense of community and magical landscapes. Your journey to Iona takes you across the Sound, where turquoise waters sparkle and bottlenose dolphins frequently visit. You might also spot seals along the shore, or bobbing in the sea. Take a wander around the majestic abbey, through the picturesque streets, along the pristine shores, and breathe in this magical place.

Hynish, Isle of Tiree

The water around Tiree is famous for water sports as impressive waves crash along these golden shores. Hynish lies at the southern tip of the island, a wonderful spot that brings together local history and natural heritage. Hynish looks out across fertile waters, rich with wondrous creatures, so look out for basking sharks in the summer months, harbour porpoises and bottlenose dolphins all year round.

Arinagour, Isle of Coll

Coll clocks up some of the highest sunshine hours in the UK and the starry sky is second to none as the milky way can be viewed from doorsteps in the heart of the village. Coll is a nature lover’s paradise throughout the year with rare and elusive creatures to be found here, like basking sharks and corncrakes. Look out for harbour porpoises and bottlenose dolphins from the shore, and keep an eye out on the ferry too - in the summer it passes through waters rich with minke whales and common dolphins.

Colonsay

Colonsay is absolutely bursting with beauty. Scalasaig is the main village and where you arrive on the ferry. Spend some time here taking in the view; it has a lovely outlook and even from the shelter of the ferry waiting room you can gaze out across the sea. Bottlenose dolphins are occasional visitors, and harbour porpoises can be spotted fleeting through the waves. A short walk round the bay will give you different view points, and more chances to spot something wondrous.

Port Askaig, Islay

At Port Askaig you look out towards the looming Paps of Jura, and the Sound of Islay is a narrow stretch of water, hemmed in by the beautiful islands of Islay and Jura. This is a great place to spot a swift and sleek porpoise, or slow and gliding basking shark, as the tide washes by.

The Oa, Islay

The Oa stands at the very edge of the Hebrides, looking out towards Northern Ireland and the vast expanse of the Atlantic. It’s a natural wilderness of untamed beauty, a nature reserve brimming with birdlife. Looking down from atop these cliffs look out for seals and bottlenose dolphins that might be travelling close along the shore. Casting your eye further out to sea might catch you a glimpse of bigger species of whale, like the magnificent humpback.

Gigha

Gigha is a fertile island on land as well as the surrounding seas, so enjoys a plentiful variety of wildlife. On the ferry crossing you may be lucky enough to spot the playful bottlenose dolphins that sometimes come to swim with the boat. Keep an eye out for porpoises as these speedy creatures hunt off Gigha’s coast.

 

A bit more about each site

Click below for the full information for each of the sites on the Hebridean Whale Trail website.