Puffin Paddle Special Shiant Islands Cruise
An exciting 2-night ‘puffin cruise’ to the beautiful Shiant Isles, where you will see thousands upon thousands of puffins at the height of their breeding season. We hope to anchor overnight at the islands - a truly memorable experience not to be missed! You also have the chance of seeing whales, dolphins, eagles and seals.
- Visit one of the UK’s most important seabird colonies.
- High chance of seeing both golden and white-tailed sea eagles.
- Spot whales, dolphins and seals.
- Anchor amidst dramatic Outer Hebridean island scenery.
- Shore excursions to explore the islands.
Puffins are unmistakable birds with a black back and white underbelly, black head and large pale cheeks, but most of all their distinctive flattened brightly coloured rainbow bills. They can be a very comical looking bird, heightened by their red and black eye-markings and orange legs. These amazing birds return to the Shiants to breed and nest from the end of April through to the end of July where they can be seen in their thousands, easily spotted floating in large groups on the water or flying overhead to their nesting burrows on the islands.
Other colonies of breeding seabirds at the Shiants include fulmar, kittiwake, guillemots, razorbills and shags. Also, there are white-tailed (sea) eagles and peregrines hunting over the islands and along the cliffs, not to mention the predatory great skua also.
The waters we will sail in to reach the Shiants are also rich feeding grounds for whales, dolphins, porpoise and seals as well as all the seabirds. We will have great chances to see some of these too!
All our whale and dolphin sightings are collected and submitted digitally via the Whale Track app to the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT).
We will depart on board MV Monadhliath from Stornoway early afternoon and sail down towards the Shiant Isles, looking out for cetaceans such as minke whales, Risso’s and common dolphins, porpoise and many seabird species along our journey, including the magnificent gannets. Our first night will be spent at the enchanting Shiant Isles if weather condition allow, or in a sheltered sea loch along the east coast of Lewis if not.
We will explore the Shiants and enjoy the magnificent scenery and will also have the opportunity to go ashore using our small dinghy which will act as a tender/safety boat to get you to shore and back.
Roughly 10% of the UK’s puffins and 8% of razorbills breed here each year, making this one of the country’s most important sites for breeding seabirds. Thanks to a new rat eradication programme, storm petrels are now also returning to breed on the islands.
There are a few different walks that we might take, each spectacular in its own way, and, on a clear day, we will enjoy great views across the surrounding islands and across the sea to as far away as the Isle of Skye.
We will attempt to have another overnight at the Shiants or head back to a sheltered sea loch on Lewis.
After breakfast we will soak in a last look at our surroundings before we depart and take in the mountain and seascapes of the Western isles. There will be more opportunities to maybe spot new species of cetaceans (with white-beaked dolphins being the most likely) while we continue our way back to Stornoway, arriving around midday and onward transfers.
Mon 22nd June - Wed 24th June
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**Please note that whilst we try to make these trips accessible to everyone, the boat is not suitable for anyone with mobility issues due to the compact spaces and steep stairs descending to the cabins.
**Under 14s must be accompanied by a responsible adult on our overnight expeditions.