If you are looking for a winning way to spend a morning or afternoon, hop aboard our list of the best boat trips in Cornwall. Leaving from picturesque harbours and creeks all around the county, they beckon for good times galore - especially when combined with the lure of a Cornish pasty or suntrap beer garden afterwards.
Padstow Sealife Safaris, Padstow
Best for: Wildlife spotting
Padstow Sealife Safaris is one of the most famous boat operators in Cornwall. Experienced ocean-goers with years of experience under their life jackets, Sealife Safari’s skipper and crew share their expertise to provide a top-notch introduction to the north Cornish coast. Departing from Padstow’s bustling harbour, they are especially well-known for their safe, non-invasive wildlife watching opportunities, with 2-hour dolphin watching and 1-hour seal spotting outings. Jump aboard and keep your eyes peeled for the majestic sea life of the coast and look forward to the excitement of your first magical wildlife encounter, rounded off with one of the tastiest eats Padstow has to offer.
Coast Boat Trips in Cornwall, St Ives
Best for: St Ives Bay vistas
The scenery of St Ives Bay is simply incredible. But how often do you get to see it in all its glory? Giving you the chance to take to the sea and gaze at the beautiful St Ives Bay from the blue side of the horizon are Coast Boat Trips. Showing off the jaw-dropping scenery, landmarks and wildlife of West Cornwall, these sen-sea-tional boat trips leave from St Ives and provide an insight into the history and heritage of the county. Of course, wildlife sightings are never guaranteed, but boaters here are often graced with the presence of seals, dolphins and even, on lucky days, whales, including minke and humpback.
Helford River Cruises, Helford
Best for: Storybook creeks
The Helford is a magical place with winding creeks overhung with moss-draped branches and picnic-worthy beaches tucked around hidden corners. To see this incredible place for yourself, join up with Helford River Cruises. Launching from Budock Vean near Mawnan Smith, these 90-minute cruises provide space for up to ten people to see Helford’s highlights. Settle into your waterside pew and gaze at the scenery as you gently pootle past Trebah Gardens, the hamlet of Durgan, Frenchman's Creek and more. Dog-friendly champagne charters are also available for an extra special touch.
AK Wildlife Cruises, Falmouth
Best for: Snorkelling adventures
AK Wildlife Cruises run three, four and seven-hour wildlife cruises from Falmouth. For a really immersive experience, they also offer three-hour snorkel safari cruises. Setting the scene for incredible underwater discovery, this wonderful family-friendly activity in Falmouth safely guides you through all the best snorkelling spots on the south coast and shows you a whole new side to the county’s natural spaces. Bring along your wetsuit, fins and mask and get ready to make a splash, snorkelling through crystal-clear water to see some of Cornwall’s aquatic residents - from adorably goofy blennies to pink-hued spider crabs to incredible shoals of whitebait.
Jubilee Queen, Padstow
Best for: North coast views
Promising one of the best boat trips in Cornwall, the 25-metre-long Jubilee Queen departs from Padstow’s harbour throughout the summer months. Operating for more than 40 years, this family-friendly queen of the sea is well-seasoned in the art of cruising and welcomes aboard young sailors and salty sea dogs too. Take a seat (there’s room for up to 200 people) and enjoy the incredible views of North Cornwall’s coast. Comfort facilities are available on board, and drinks and refreshments are available to buy from the boat’s well-stocked bar, including soft drinks, spirits, wines and ciders.
Cornwall Waverunner Safaris, Newquay
Best for: Adrenaline adventures
Promising a novel twist on boat trips in Cornwall is Cornwall Waverunner Safaris in Newquay. Operating from Lusty Glaze beach and Newquay harbour, this action-packed outfit offers fast-paced adventures for all generations. Dial up the speed of your coastal discovery and book yourself in for an exhilarating jet ski safari or heart-racing banana boat ride. The perfect playground for water-based fun, each excursion is supported by fully qualified instructors and takes place on the beautiful blue waters of Newquay’s coast. So that you can waste no time in getting started and having fun, all safety gear is provided.
Marine Discovery ‘Shearwater II’, Penzance
Best for: Wildlife facts
For wildlife lovers, there’s no better boat trip in Cornwall than a tour of the coast with Marine Discovery. Based in Penzance’s harbour, Marine Discovery’s ‘Shearwater II’ sailing catamaran offers a variety of voyages, catering for boaties aged 4 and over and 12 and over. Heading out into the mind-bogglingly beautiful Mount’s Bay, what makes these trips unique is that they also double as research opportunities and are used to collect scientific data to support and protect local marine ecosystems. The only tour company in the country to do so, Marine Discovery provides an unparalleled opportunity to learn about Cornwall’s coastal environments and marine species.
Nemo Glass Bottom Boat Trips, St Ives
Best for: Underwater photos
Well-known in Cornwall, Nemo is a purpose-built motorboat with eight glass viewing panels overlooking the seafloor. The largest glass-bottom vessel in the UK, it provides an incredible chance to see below the waves and the magical coastal habitats of St Ives Bay - all without getting wet. Perfect for landlubbers who’d like to glimpse life underneath the water’s surface without the snorkel, Nemo delivers hour-and-a-quarter-long outings from St Ives’ harbour all the way to Godrevy Lighthouse or Seal Island. If you’d like to go even further, you can also join in for longer two-and-a-half-hour and four-hour trips too.
Fowey River Trips, Fowey
Best for: River cruising
For smooth sailing along the prettiest waterways imaginable, book onto a river and harbour cruise with Fowey River Trips. With a variety of different trips to choose from, including passages to Lostwithiel, Lerryn, and even Polperro and Mevagissey, you can enjoy soothing river jaunts and invigorating sea voyages with the best. Depending on what you fancy, you can pick from journeys lasting from just 45 minutes to several hours, all the while enjoying the sights, sounds and scents of Cornwall’s southern coastline. Leaving from Fowey town quay, the 45-minute river cruise includes favourite south coast highlights such as Daphne DuMaurier's former home, Fowey docks, and Readymoney Cove.
Black Pearl Boat Trips, St Ives
Best for: Seal sightings
Setting off from Smeaton’s Pier, Black Pearl Boat Trips offers unmissable opportunities for salt-kissed excursions along the Cornish coast. Headed by Skipper Jago, who took the Aspects team out for a brilliant seal spotting boat trip, the Black Pearl is available for both private charter and group outings. A particularly popular option is the seal tours which take you on a breathtaking adventure out of St Ives’ harbour and towards the bay’s famous Seal Island. Gently navigating the waters around the island without disturbing its resident wildlife, these tours afford a unique chance to see adorable seals basking atop sun-warmed rocks and cruising through the sea.
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