When to go: Sailings operate from April until September. Whale and dolphin sightings tend to be best from May until the end of July.
Why we love them: Arisaig Marine manages to turn a popular ferry service taking visitors to the Small Isles into an expedition in itself, with the opportunity to see some of the abundant wildlife that's likely to pop up along the way. This is a great day out, where in many ways the journey is the destination. You'll get to set foot on some beautiful, remote and less-visited Scottish islands, and your guide and captain will make sure you get a great view of interesting wildlife on your way.
Departs from: Arisaig.
Duration: Up to 2.5 hours on the boat each way, depending on which island you are visiting. See our separate post about island day trips for more information about visiting the Small Isles with Arisaig Marine.
The MV Sheerwater sails daily from Easter until September, connecting Arisaig with the Small Isles of Muck, Eigg and Rum. Its role as a ferry service makes it possible to visit these unique islands as a day trip, but to hop on and off without paying much attention to your surroundings would be to miss out on the fact that this stretch of sea offers some of the best opportunities to spot rare birds, whales and dolphins in the whole of Scotland!
The sightings often start as soon as the vessel departs, courtesy of the huge seal colony that makes the skerries outside Arisaig its home. From here, you can expect approximately an hour's journey time to reach the Isle of Eigg, where you'll get around 30 minutes to stretch your legs before departing on a further 30-minute journey to Muck, or a further hour to Rum (timetables vary between the Eigg-Muck and Eigg-Rum routes depending on the day).
With regular dolphin and whale sightings possible in this stretch of water in the summer and an abundance of seabirds at every turn, you can expect to have plenty to look at as you travel. The timetable is approximate because if something interesting appears, Arisaig Marine's team tend to try and make sure their guests get an excellent view before it heads off!