Swim with Basking Sharks
Inner Hebrides Islands, Scotland
Join underwater photographers on this unique opportunity to swim with giant sharks in ruggedly beautiful Inner Hebrides islands of Scotland. Basking sharks are harmless filter feeders who work the nutrient rich waters during the summer months. Their shallow swim allows us to have in water encounters at close range. While seeking basking sharks we are likely to find other marine residents such as harbour and grey seals, dolphins, and whales. While cruising the coasts of many of the Hebrides Islands, we will make landings on beaches and in coves. We visit a puffin-nesting colony. We stay on the Island of Coll; right in the heart of basking shark habitat and enjoy its charm and culture.
|Where:||Inner Hebrides Islands, Based on Coll|
|Participants:||Limited to 4|
|Dates||July 24 - 30th 2016|
|Land based: 5 Days on the water to find basking sharks, seals, and other marine wildlife|
|The water temperature in July ranges from 10 - 16 'C|
|Basking shark peak season in this area is mid June - August and a wildlife hotspot all year round.|
Trip Fee Includes:
- 5 Full days on the water in our chartered boat
- 4 nights accommodation on Isle of Coll in shared accommodation (bunkhouse w self catering)
- Transfer from Oban to Coll and return
- 2 nights accommodation in Oban (first and last night) at a modest B&B
- Drinks and snacks on the boat
Does not Include
- Airfare to Glasgow, Scotland (GLA)
- Transfer to Oban and back
- Dinner, drinks, and other food
- Tip for the boat crew
- Accommodation upgrades
- Scuba and scuba gear
The closest major airport to Oban is Glasgow. From Glasgow it is possible to drive or take a train to Oban - trains run several times each day from the Queen Street Station.
We will arrive back in Oban in the late afternoon or evening of July 28th and stay overnight in Oban. Guests can depart late on the 28th or on the 29th or stay in Oban to enjoy the distillary and other sites.
Oban has a distillary, walking tours, scenic coastline, and some castle ruins to see so guests may wish to extend their stay before or after our basking shark days on Coll in order to explore this area and the other islands of the Hebrides.
Some local diving is also a reason to extend your stay - several operators, including those that chater our basking shark days, conduct dives in the area.
Coll has Dark Skies status meaning that there is very little light pollution so dramatic night photography is possible.
It is possible to shorten this trip to 3 boat days. There are many things to do and explore in this area - think about doing a dry land extension to see more of Scotland.
Notes & Itinerary
Wildlife of the Inner Hebrides
Since we are dealing with wildlife, basking shark sightings and in water encounters are not guaranteed by us or our boat operators. Sighting rates for 2013 was 75% between June and Aug
The islands of Coll and Tiree have the most regular basking shark appearances in Scotland.
In addition to the sharks we can enjoy landings on pristine white sandy beaches, island landings and exploring rugged landscapes, Fingel's Cave, Corrywreckan whirlpools, and shallow cold water reefs.
Marine life is abundant and we are likely to see:
- Comon and Bottlenose Dolphins
- Minke Whales and occasionally Orca
- Common and Grey Seals and Otters
- Golden and White Tailed Sea Eagles
- Puffins, Gannets, Skua's and many more sea birds
- More rare finds are Turtles and Sunfish
Accommodation on Isle of Coll is in a bunkhouse with kitchen and lounge area. The bunkhouse is only 3 years old and great for groups. It has 2 rooms which sleep 6 each, large lounge/kitchen, 5 separate toilets and 4 separated showers. There is a drying facility and storage for gear. Upgrades to mid-range B&B or hotel is possible (at your won expense) all are within walking of the dock.
While in Oban we stay at a modest B&B but guests can upgrade to other nearby accommodations
Guests should bring a 7mm wetsuit with hood or a drysuit and some warm layers for use on the boat and at night.
Fins and boots, mask and hood
Camera and dry bags for extra clothing and personal items for on the boat
Binoculars (suggested) for wildlife viewing and spotting
Our Boat Operators
Our tour operator is a member of Wild Scotland and they have adopted their standardsfor their operations. They use a fast and comfortable 11m cabin RIB vessel which is highly seaworthy. Their crew higly trained and experienced. They have been dedicated to the marine wildlife of this area and sharing it with guests for many years.
|Day 1||Meet in Oban and stay at a local B&B|
|Day 2|| (1st Boat Day) Early morning transfer to Isle of Coll. Once on Coll we quickly offload luggage at our accommodations. The first day we usually head to the crystal clear waters of the islands where there is a grey seal colony. The waters are only a few meters deep with white sand and healthy reefs it is a stunning introduction to the area a chance to get our first photos. The rest of the day is spent looking for the basking sharks.
Anytime we are searching for basking sharks there is a chance of encountering Minke Whales, Common and bottlenose dolphins and porpoises. The day ends with a meal on the island. The evening is also a time to look for otters near the pier, a bike ride, or a stroll along the coast and beaches. The island is home to several restaurants and pubs. Day 3 (2nd boat day) This day is full day looking basking sharks. Being based on Coll we are right in the area and do not have to spend time getting to their feeding grounds. In the later afternoon we have an opportunity to do a shore dive (extra cost) /snorkel at the pier.
|Day 3||(2nd boat day) This day is full day looking basking sharks. Being based on Coll we are right in the area and do not have to spend time getting to their feeding grounds. In the later afternoon we have an opportunity to do a shore dive (extra cost) /snorkel at the pier.|
|Day 4||(3rd Boat Day) Our plan for the 3rd day depends on our success on the first two days. We can continue our search for basking sharks or visit Lunga to see the puffins and perhaps Fingal’s Cave at Staffa. Both are good snorkel locations and excellent for landscape and wildlife photography. If we go to Tobermory there is a nice restaurant and distillery for a tour.|
|Day 5||5 (4th Boat day) This day we will do any of the things mentioned above that we have not already seen and some more time for the basking sharks. Return to Oban. Stay in Oban at B&B or hotel|
|Day 6||Depart Oban or opt to stay extra days to explore|