8 Best Dolphin Watching Boat Trips In Cornwall

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Seeing dolphins in their natural environment is, in our experience, one of the best ways to truly appreciate the beauty of wildlife and the importance of conserving marine ecosystems.

Thankfully, there are several boat trips available that take you out into the Cornish waters in an effort to see these incredible wild animals.

No company is able to guarantee that you will be able to see dolphins during your boat trip and while dolphins can be found in Cornwall’s coastal waters year-round. However, for the best chance of seeing dolphins, we recommend going out on the waters during the summer months, from June to September since the water is the calmest at this time of year.

1. Coast Boat Trips Cornwall

Duration: 1 hour, 2 hours, and 2.5 hours
Departure Location: Penzance and Hayle
Contact: 0752 260 7126 | coastboattrips.com

As one of the most popular boat trip companies in Cornwall, Coast Boat Trips offers a variety of award-winning packages for all kinds of fun activities to do in the region, including dolphins and whale watching!

One of the best packages to enjoy Cornwall’s marine wildlife is the longer 2.5-hour trip. This one takes you around the Cornish Coast where you can go wildlife watching and hopefully see Bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic white-sided dolphins, and the adorable Risso’s dolphin!

2. Atlantic Adventures

Duration: Approximately 2 hours
Departure Location: Penzance Harbour
Contact: 075 2274 1399 | atlanticadventures.co.uk 

Starting off with one of the best boat marine wildlife boat trips in Cornwall. Atlantic Adventures features a 7-meter rib boat that is able to take up to 7 passengers at a time.

Besides common dolphins, the trips allow you to enjoy some of the most beautiful marine creatures in their natural habitat, including humpback whales, sunfish, grey seals, puffins, storm petrels, and even massive sharks!

The trip lasts a couple of hours and is the perfect way to see some of Cornwall’s wildlife.

3. St Ives Boats

Duration: 1 hour
Departure Location: St Ives harbour
Contact: 0777 300 8000 | stivesboats.co.uk

St Ives Boats is one of the most affordable boat tour companies in the St. Ives region. It’s also a great choice for anyone who wants to enjoy the landmarks in the area while gazing at the rich variety of marine creatures in the area.

On the trip, you’ll encounter both common and bottlenose dolphins passing through the bay area. Additionally, on a sunny day, you can watch sharks and whales as they swim to the surface to bask in the sun!

4. Looe Sea Safari

Duration: 1.5 and 2 hours
Departure Location: Looe harbour
Contact: 0741 532 1072 | looeseasafari.co.uk

Next up, we have one of the best sea safari providers around Looe Harbour. This one offers a variety of boat tours. However, depending on the time of the year, the best trips to watch dolphins and see other local wildlife are “The Coastal Safari” and “The Eddystone Lighthouse Safari”.

In the case of low tide, the trips are transferred to a rib boat, which offers a more stable ride through the waves. The trip also takes around some of the most iconic landmarks in the area, such as Eddystone Lighthouse, Whitsand Bay, and more!

5. Mermaid Pleasure

Duration: 2 and 3 hours (up to a full day for fishing trips)
Departure Location: Penzance harbour
Contact: 0790 173 1201 | cornwallboattrips.co.uk 

If you’re looking for a boat trip where you can enjoy mackerel fishing all the while getting up close with dolphins, you should consider Mermaid Pleasure Trips. 

This lovely boat trip also departs from West Cornwall and passes through the historical St. Michael Mount while listening to some of the most interesting tales about the region.

Mermaid Pleasure offers a variety of boat trip packages, ranging from 2 hours (enough to watch a variety of dolphins and other marine species) all the way up to a full-day trip for fishing. However, you should keep in mind that babies under 2 years old aren’t allowed on that tour.

6. Marine Discovery

Duration: 2, 3, and 4 hours
Departure Location: Penzance harbour
Contact: 0774 927 7110 | marinediscovery.co.uk

Marine Discovery offers a variety of excellent tours on its iconic Shearwater II boat. This one fits up to 12 passengers, making it an excellent choice for large families and groups. The boat tour offers a variety of trips that vary in duration and landmarks visited. 

However, all of them cruise around areas where dolphins and whales pass every day, allowing you to enjoy a variety of species of dolphins, including Risso’s dolphin, basking sharks, minke whales, harbour porpoises, killer whales, and much more!

7. Nemo St Ives Glass Bottom Boat Trips

Duration: 2.5 hours 
Departure Location: St Ives Harbour
Contact: 0737 575 8123 | nemostives.co.uk

Nemo Glass Bottom boats offer a one-of-a-kind trip where you get to enjoy the vibrant underwater of St Ives without having to leave the boat!

In our experience, this is the best way to see marine life up-close-and-personal if you’re travelling with young kids as the boat features 8 clear panels that allow you to view all the beautiful creatures that swim underneath.

The 75-minute trip is ideal for watching seals and smaller creatures near the shore. However, if you want to watch marine mammals like whales and dolphins, you’ll find the most luck with the Extended Sea Safari trip that lasts longer and goes deeper into the ocean!

8. Tiger Lilly

Duration: around 2 hours
Departure Location: St Ives Harbour
Contact: 0788 821 3131 | stivesboatcruises.co.uk

Last but not least, if you’re looking for a relatively long trip that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg, you might want to consider this boat trip!

The Tiger Lilly boat trip offers the Twilight Adventure package, which allows you to observe a remarkable variety of marine animals, including Common dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, Minke whales, grey Atlantic seals, Porpoise, and even Bluefin tuna!

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