There are lots of ways to get out and enjoy this beautiful part of the world, but to our mind, one of the best is to explore it from the water. After all, that’s how people got around the West Coast for millennia, when roads were non-existent or difficult to manoeuvre. Even today, it’s often more efficient to travel by boat than by road! And there’s no better way to discover Oban’s spectacular wildlife, fantastic castles and, of course, the plethora of charming islands that surrounds it.
If you are looking to get the most out of your marine experience, we highly recommend Coastal Connection, which is run by 31-year-old twins Struan and Cameron Smith. The Smith brothers, who were born seven minutes apart, grew up here, and since they were teenagers, they have been piloting boats all over the West Coast.
“Being on the water is our favorite place, as you see so many different landscapes that are always changing with the weather,” Struan shared. “Especially some of the sunsets we get are amazing, and even watching the sun rise over Ben Cruachan from the Firth of Lorne can be pretty awesome.”
Coastal Connection runs three Redbay 11-metre cabined RIBs (rigid-hulled inflatable boats) that, no matter the weather, offer a dry, comfy and safe ride. They are named the Rannochmòr, the Power of Scotland and the Schiehallion. Each boat carries up to 12 passengers, allowing flexibility to accommodate most any size group.
“Large groups are no problem,” Struan said. “We can have all three running side by side, which also adds to the experience. On our price per person trips we try to have a minimum of six passengers just to cover fuel, etc. We also run a lot of private charters, which can be more suited to small groups, depending on where they would like to go.”
They offer regular trips to the area’s most popular sites, but also provide custom service. “We do lots of private charters and it really depends on how far they would like to go. We can do a two hour charter in the Firth of Lorne looking for eagles, or even a full day around Mull taking in Iona, Staffa, Treshnish and Tobermory. We have done weddings in the past at Castle Stalker and transferring wedding parties about for the reception. Special birthdays and wedding anniversaries also seem popular.”
One of their most popular trips is their Wildlife and Castles tour. And while you can certainly go and visit different areas on your own, there’s nothing quite like doing it all from the comfort of a boat with experts who are steeped in the local history and nature. “I think people like it, as we don't really have a script we repeat all the time. We change our information depending on what we see, or even interesting ships and boats going past. We try to share any stories that pop up over the years.”
Coastal Connection offers trips to most all the Hebridean islands, from Lismore to Skye, from Canna to Tiree, and they are always up for a challenge, so if you have somewhere a bit more far flung in mind, just ask! They provide private charters priced for two hours, half day and full day (up to 80 nautical miles for the full day set price- trips over that are charged for extra miles.)
They have several excellent recommended trips, including a shark and whale watching trip to Coll, a puffin watching trip to the famous Fingal’s Cave on Staffa, which inspired Felix Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture, a visit to the Corryvreckan, the third largest whirlpool in the world or a whisky tasting jaunt to Islay. You can take in the sights, learn about history and wildlife and enjoy a dram and lunch at the area’s most popular and award winning restaurants.
Experience the spirit of the West Coast from the water with Coastal Connection for holiday memories you will cherish for a lifetime. For more information, visit coastal-connection.co.uk, phone +44 (0)1631 565833 or email email@example.com.