Basking Shark Map

St Kilda and Outer Hebrides Expedition

Barra head lit up during sunset.
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See the best of the islands on the edge of the Atlantic, the remote and wild Outer Hebrides. Explore from our comfortable & fast boat, designed for an epic adventure in the Atlantic. Whether you would like to stay dry, snorkel or wild swim we know you will love this trip -it’s the firm favourite of our staff! All tours are different as we navigate the sea conditions, but this is what we hope you will experience:

  • 6 activity days – 5 days on the boat & 1 land based day (7 nights)
  • Land on uninhabited islands to explore incredible views, historic sites and spectacular beaches.
  • Chance to visit the UK’s only Dual UNESCO World Heritage Site – St Kilda
  • Meet charismatic puffins, seabirds and eagles on the cliffs of Mingulay
  • Snorkel in temperate kelp forests, reefs and historic shipwrecks*
  • Daily wild swimming opportunity
  • Visit the resident seal colonies and snorkel with the seals
  • 5 days looking for basking sharks, whale and dolphins watching
  • Read our Captains log from our epic 2023 tour.

2025 dates now online for May / June 2025

* Snorkelling participation requires a minimum experience level, see more information here.




This 6 day 7 night itinerary is based from the Isle of Barra, situated in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, a stunning but remote part of the UK. Access to the island is by Calmac ferry  from the beautiful coastal town of Oban where your adventure starts.

We advise you to arrive in Oban the day before your tour due to the ferry times, for more information on travel please see our FAQs.

An alternative and unique way to travel to Barra is by plane from Glasgow; this is the world’s only scheduled beach landing. This lands at the north of the island, so you should consider getting bus or taxi from there to Castlebay/accommodation in the south.

boat moored up at Castlebay, Barra

On the Tour

Once you arrive on the island you’ll make your way to your accommodation, where your guide will meet you and help you to settle in. Each day will be exploring a different island, wild swimming and snorkeling along with searching for wildlife. The deep waters around the island create excellent feeding opportunities for millions of seabirds, basking sharks, whales and dolphins.

Photographers and naturalists will be amazed by the plentiful bird life and stunning scenery. We aim to land and explore on different islands daily to give you a unique and unforgettable experience. Our fantastic itinerary includes many other highlights of the Outer Hebrides, it’s flexible in nature to allow for the wild Atlantic conditions. Start and end times will vary as we take advantage of weather windows to visit different locations. We visit at our favourite time of year with the longest day length, sunrise around 5am and sunset around 10pm, this allows lots of flexibility along with the options for you pack in more activities before and after the trip.

Whilst none of the locations are guaranteed, here’s what we’re aiming for on the trip.

Boat at the Mingulay arch, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

St Kilda

Visit the UK’s only dual UNESCO World Heritage site, one of only 39 locations in the world awarded this title. Home to almost 1 million sea birds, including the UK’s largest colony of Atlantic puffins. We have 6 chances for the weather to allow us to reach the archipelago of St Kilda. The journey is almost three hours each way, and a notoriously extremely difficult place to reach due to its exposed position. We plan to explore the historic abandoned settlements, search for wildlife, enjoy panoramic views and see the dramatic sea stacks which are an iconic image of the islands. There will be a chance to tick the bucket list of a St Kilda swim if we make it out there too. If calm, the sandy bay is perfect for a wild swim and there is also lots of options for group snorkeling around the cliffs and caves too.

Climbing Conachair, past the cleits on Hirta, St Kilda, Outer Hebrides, Scotland


The lesser-known island of Mingulay is an equally exciting prospect, closer than St Kilda, but just as rich in wildlife, scenery and history. The contrasting coasts make this a spectacular place to visit, with turquoise waters and sandy beaches on one side and a towering rugged cliff face on the other. There are thousands of birds to be seen here, along with a large colony of grey seals. There is much to explore on this island so we will aim to spend a couple of days around here. The west side holds the amazing King Kong rock, 250m cliffs, the arch and chasm. If it’s calm seas we hope to have to opportunity to swim here and/or take the boat around. The bay is fantastic for a wild swim and again endless snorkeling opportunities. If it all comes together – one of the most amazing experiences of your life. Our favourite place to visit on the trip.

Exploring Mingulay near Barra in the Outer Hebrides with Basking Shark Scotland

Barra Head (Berneray)

South of Mingulay is one of the best viewpoints in the Outer Hebrides and sits completely off the beaten path. The lighthouse at the western side of the island sits 693 feet above sea level! With views over the edge of the world, this was certainly a firm favourite for our previous guests. Circumnavigating the island, surrounded by thousands of seabirds and big seas makes this feel like a truly wild and powerful place. The west side has amazing caves and cliffs to explore from the boat.

Cliffs and Lighthouseof Barra Head, Berneray, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Pabbay & Sandray

The other main islands of the Barra isles is Pabbay & Sandray, both different but with fabulous snorkelling, swimming, white sand beaches & turquoise water.

Both have fantastic sand dunes with lots of rugged coastline to explore, orchids and wild flowers bloom in the machair. The ruined settlements and archaeological significant features are another great feature to find.

We’ll plan to land on both of these islands over the trip, usually a half day for each depending on the weather.

Pabbay Bay, Outer Hebrides, ScotlandExploring the Isle of Sandray on a Basking Shark Scotland expedition




The Isle of Eriskay is famous for two things – the Eriskay pony and ‘Whisky Galore’. The latter is known to many from the book and film portrayal of this fascinating part of island history. We can still see the remnants of the S.S Politician, the shipwreck which was documented in the movie. Snorkelling here is a unique experience, keep your eyes out for any remaining hidden bottles of whisky! After our swim we will head ashore to the AM Politician pub, where you can see some artefacts retrieved from the wreck, there will be time for a pub lunch or dinner too.

The shipwreck of the SS Politician, Eriskay, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Swimming with Sharks

This tour times in with the arrival of the sharks in the Outer islands, we are very interested in learning more about this shark population and obtaining genetic samples. We don’t yet know if these sharks are the same as we see in the Inner Hebrides during the later months. Swimming alongside these gentle giants is a moment you will never forget. It is a more variable time than our dedicated peak season tours, so the sharks will be a bonus if we encounter them.

Over the past decade, we have developed our Code of Conduct for encountering sharks to ensure their welfare & protection. This practice ensures both shark and customer safety which is our highest priority and allows you to get the best chance of a memorable experience.

Basking Shark at the Isle of Coll

Swimming with Seals

Scotland boasts one-third of the world’s grey seal population and swimming with these curious animals is a moment you will remember. We have multiple options around the islands where we have resident seal colonies to visit. Mingulay especially holds a large colony, during westerly winds they congregate in large numbers near the bay.

As per our shark protocols we’ll also interact with the seals in a low impact way, hopefully allowing a fun encounter.

swimming with seals

Who is the tour for?

For the ocean-loving explorer who wants to see hard-to-reach locations and truly wild islands. This tour is about the wildlife and spectacular scenery, however you would like to enjoy it – be it in the water or on board the boat. To join our in-water activities you must be comfortably able to swim a minimum of 100m unaided in open water. With the remote location we operate in there are some physical challenges such as boarding the boat by ladder and landing on the islands without facilities, please see here for more information.

Exploring Barra

Being in the Hebrides we can often experience very strong winds. It’s almost a guarantee we’ll be forced to have one day ashore on the trip, so we just make one in the itinerary. Having said that all our other trips have been lucky that we could be at sea all the time.

You’ll have the chance to explore the island’s local wildlife, landscapes and history. Barra and the adjoining Isle of Vatersay are stunning destinations in their own right, there are some incredible beaches and walks here to enjoy. Usually we have a stop for coffee & cake then a chilled day around there. With the rest of the trip so hectic then it’s usually a welcome break!

Exploring the Machair, Dunes & Machair on Vatersay

Life on the Island

In the evenings enjoy the quiet life Barra has to offer, with remote beaches, otter spotting and stunning sunsets. This idyllic island is home to some amazing eateries and accommodation providers, but if camping /campervan is more your style you won’t be short of peaceful spots to enjoy. If you are self-catering you will be able to buy supplies from the local Co-Op. There is an excellent local pizza maker where we had a group pizza night last time, along with the excellent curry house.

Machair & wild flowers on Barra

Tour expectations

The natural world is very unpredictable, not a zoo or an aquarium, therefore sightings are never guaranteed. We can however promise that you are visiting a wildlife hotspot with a highly experienced and passionate team. Our boats are comfortable cabin RIBs built for the wild Atlantic conditions which are closely monitored by our experienced skippers. We will do our very best to give you a great experience!

Ready to join us on an adventure?


Tour prices

Per person


Private Charter rates

from £14,500 (Up to 10 guests)

Important Info Icon

A 50% deposit is required at the time of booking, with the final balance due 12 weeks before tour departure.

Group tours have specific payment terms & conditions. Please email for more information.

What’s Included?

  • 6 day wildlife tour (5 boat days, 1 land day)
  • Knowledgeable and experienced guides
  • In water guide for snorkelling and swimming
  • Guided island landings
  • Transfers from the ferry terminal in Barra
  • Hot drinks
  • Use of binoculars, books and information guides.

Additional Considerations

  • Accommodation on the Isle of Barra
  • Equipment Hire
  • Ferry & travel to meeting point
  • Food and Drink


Please see our cancellation policy and terms and conditions here.


Our 6 day Outer Hebrides expedition runs only once a year with a limited number of 8 spaces.

Tour dates

Week 1

Sunday 2nd June- Travel out from Oban by ferry (13:30 – 1815) / night 1.

Beach landing flight from Glasgow also an option but timing/taxi needs consideration.

Mon 3rd June- Sat 8th June- Activity days 1-6 (nights 2-7)

Sun 9th June- Ferry travel back to Oban (0755-1240)

Week 2 (dates pending – same itinerary)

Sunday 9th June – Sunday 16th June


If you are participating in our in water activities please check our hire equipment information. You will need to input your requirements and sizes at the time of booking – find our wetsuit size charts here.

If you intend to bring your own gear make sure you’ve read the minimum standard of kit needed. Here’s an advice document on what is best.


After booking you will receive a confirmation email with a linked information document. You will also be contacted by our team to help you book accommodation in Barra.

We have two self catering houses booked for week 1 located in Borve around 5min drive from the marina.  Each room costs £350 per week and we have the ability to have 3 sharing rooms. This includes linen, towels, electricity & wifi provided by the houses. Rooms will be allocated on first come first served basis but feel free to request anything specific and we’ll try to accommodate that.

There are hotels, B&B and hostel in Castlebay where you can walk to the boat each day. Along with a number of campsites over the island.

Click here to check out a bit more information here. Barra 2024 accom