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Why you #MustSeaScotland in 2021

Date published: 08 April 2021

Whether you’re sampling some of the best and freshest seafood on the planet, watching the sunset dip and dance over ancient standing stones, or monster hunting on the world’s most famous body of water, you simply #MustSeaScotland during the Year of Coasts and Waters!

Looking for some inspiration? We’ve picked out a few of the incredible experiences that can only be found on Scotland’s spectacular waters and stunning shores. When the current restrictions lift, what will you explore first?

Create your own unforgettable moments as you sail Scotland this year and make sure you share them with us on social media by tagging them with #MustSeaScotland or uploading them to our gallery!

COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS

Check the current Covid-19 restrictions in Scotland and continue to plan and book ahead when considering your trip. You can search VisitScotland's website for businesses that are open and Good to Go, where they have a Covid-19 risk assessment.

Step inside Smoo Cave

Durness

Its name might be taken from the Old Norse for ‘hiding place,’ but the only this dramatic, spectacular sea cave in Sutherland is concealing is an experience unlike any other - epic in every sense of the word.

Catch a sunset at the Callanais Standing Stones

Isle of Lewis

5,000-years-old and more than a little magical, the Calanais Standing Stones predate Stonehenge and have entranced visitors and baffled archaeologists for centuries. One thing’s for sure – you’ll never forget seeing the stones silhouetted against a burning Scottish sunset.

Go monster hunting on Loch Ness

Caledonian Canal

Legendary Loch Ness – home of myths, monsters, and majesty. Take to its iconic waters to explore breathtaking scenery and the on-going mystery of its hide and seek grand champion. After all, everyone needs that one tale of what they think they saw in its inky blue waters…

Go dolphin spotting on the Moray Firth

Highlands

One of the best places in Europe to see dolphins in the wild, the marvellous Moray Firth is estimated to be home to more than 130 of the playful creatures. Set sail for a magical experience as you watch them frolic in this stunning ocean inlet.

Looking to go wild this year? Grab our guide to spotting Scotland’s wildlife!

Drain a dram at Jura Distillery

Isle of Jura

A land of soaring mountains and rugged coasts, Jura is wild, untamed and utterly unforgettable. Sampling a dram of whisky in the island’s titular distillery is the perfect way to mark the epic experience of sailing around the iconic island.

Find out the secrets of Fingal’s Cave

Isle of Staffa

Unique, haunting, and utterly unforgettable – setting foot in Fingal’s Cave, a 227-foot cavern comprised entirely of hexagonal stone, is unlike any other experience on the planet. Sir Walter Scott called the cave “one of the most extraordinary places I ever beheld” but this is one wonder you need to see for yourself.

Dive the depths of Scapa Flow

Orkney

#MustSeaScotland experiences aren’t just confined to the surface – there’s magic beneath the waves, too. Explore the depths of Orkney’s Scapa Flow to discover the treasure trove of shipwrecks, wildlife and more that make this beautiful anchorage one of the world’s top diving destinations.

(c) Orkney Marinas LTD

Catch lunch at Café Canna

Inner Hebrides

The only café on the beautiful Hebridean island of Canna, this charming wee eatery dishes up some fantastic produce from the local area, from rabbit and haddock to fresh, Canna-landed lobster. Cafe Canna's the perfect (and only!) place to refuel after a day exploring Canna’s coasts and cliffs – and an ideal spot to watch the island’s 20,000 breeding seabirds!

Have we whetted your appetite? Check out our guide to sailing Scotland’s best food!

(c) Cafe Canna

Go puffin spotting on St Kilda

Outer Hebrides

Getting to St Kilda isn’t easy – but it’s more than worth it. This isolated archipelago is home to soaring sea cliffs, abandoned villages, unforgettable landscapes – and the largest colony of puffins in Europe. Set sail to what feels like the edge of the world and say hello.

Canter up to The Kelpies

Forth & Clyde Canal

Pay a visit to the eastern gateway of the Forth & Clyde Canal and you’ll sail in the shadow of The Kelpies – the world’s largest equine sculptures. Clad in almost 1000 shimmering steel panels, standing the same height as six and a half double decker buses, and weighing more than 600 tonnes, they’ll take your breath away!

(c) Scottish Canals

Climb Neptune’s Staircase

Caledonian Canal

Set sail for a unique experience on the incomparable Caledonian Canal and follow in the footsteps of the Gods as you climb Neptune’s Staircase – the longest lock flight in Britain – in the shadow of mighty Ben Nevis.

Sink your toes into Luskentyre Sands

Isle of Harris

No cruise to the Outer Hebrides is complete without a visit to South Harris’ spectacular Luskentyre Sands – although you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d sailed into the Caribbean! Miles of blindingly white sands, crystal-clear turquoise water – it’s like a little Hebridean slice of Barbados!

Channel your inner Viking at Up Helly Aa

Shetland Isles

Flaming torches, winged helmets and thundering drums – you’ve never been to a party like Up Helly Aa, the largest Viking fire festival in Europe. Set sail for the stunning Shetlands and find a celebration that’ll burn itself forever in your memory.

Sample the delights of the Crannog

Loch Linnhe

Set on the banks of beautiful Loch Linnhe, it’s no surprise that the Crannog Seafood Restaurant has cultivated a reputation as a seafood-lovers paradise. While their Loch Linnhe langoustines and mussels from Loch Eil are firm favourites, the chef’s use of fresh venison from the hills of Kingairloch and matured Aberdeen Angus steak mean even the most voracious carnivore will be well-satisfied.

Have we whetted your appetite? Check out our guide to sailing Scotland’s best food!

(c) The Crannog Seafood Restaurant

Pay a visit to Portree

Isle of Skye

Portree in Gaelic translates to ‘King’s Port’ – and you can certainly see why. Set sail for Skye’s pretty capital, known the world over for its iconic harbour overlooked by a colourful array of houses, and discover what might just be the most beautiful town in Scotland.

Cruise through the Crinan Canal

Argyll

Meandering through the ancient coastal kingdom known as ‘Dalriada’ in the heart of Argyll & Bute, the 200-year-old Crinan Canal might be just nine miles long but it features some of the most spectacular scenery and wildlife to be found anywhere in Scotland. A single visit is all it’ll take for you to see why it’s known as ‘Britain’s most beautiful shortcut.’

(c) Sylvia Watson

Explore Scotland’s last true wilderness

Knoydart

Knoydart – a peninsula over the Sound of Sleat – is often called Scotland’s last true wilderness. Only accessible by boot or boat, exploring this rugged, sprawling land of soaring summits and deep, dark sea lochs is an almost religious experience.

(c) Charmian Entwistle

Seek out the secrets of Skara Brae

Orkney

Before the pyramids were raised against the Egyptian sky, before the first rock was laid at Stonehenge, the people of Skara Brae lived on Orkney. Uncovered by a wild storm in 1850, the ancient village is the best-preserved Neolithic village in northern Europe and one of Scotland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Set sail and see the world as it was more than 5,000 years ago.

Sail beneath The Forth Bridge

Firth of Forth

Spanning the 2.5 kilometres between the coasts of Edinburgh and Fife, the Forth Bridge is one of the most dramatic man-made structures in Scotland. The iconic red steel bridge is one of the nation’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and has been featured in a range of TV programmes, advertising and films - including the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock classic The 39 Steps (as well as its remakes). Needless to say, sailing beneath the three towers of the cantilever bridge, which soar more than 100 metres into the sky, is an utterly cinematic experience!

Fancy sailing more of Scotland's cinematic landscapes? Check out our guide to #SailHollywood!