Top Cornwall boat trips holiday cottages

Top Cornwall boat trips

Courtney Kelly 03 April 2023

If it’s secluded, white-sanded coves you’re looking for, you needn’t head off to the Caribbean. Cornwall has 422 miles of splendid coastline to explore and there’s no better way to see it than from the water itself.

So, pack your mac, choose your destination and head out on an unmissable boat trip. Whether it’s a speedy voyage flying along on top of the water or a relaxing cruise absorbing every possible sight and sound, we’ll find the boat trip in Cornwall for you.

You’ll need a place to wash the salty spray from your face and put your head down for the night after each boat trip, so search our wonderful collection of Cornish cottages and find the perfect base to experience the best Cornwall boat trips.

AK Wildlife Cruises

A sunfish in the ocean

Offering multi-award-winning wildlife and sight-seeing tours, AK Wildlife Cruises based in Falmouth are very much the local pros. Experts in all things wildlife, they offer the chance to engage with and learn all about Cornwall’s wonderful marine environment. Whilst on board, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, basking sharks, seals, sea birds, sunfish and much more. For extra comfort, the boat also benefits from indoor and outdoor seating with a heated cabin, hot drinks and a WC!

With over 25 years of experience and a Wise Master-accredited crew, this is one of the best ways to safely observe marine wildlife without being obtrusive. Ocean responsibility is key to AK and there may even be scientists on board with you conducting vital research. Bring binoculars if you have them and get ready for a wonderful day of engaging with Cornwall’s breathtaking marine environment.

Best for: A variety of wildlife

Location: Falmouth Premier Marina, North Parade, Falmouth, TR11 2TD

We recommend: The 7-hour cruise to find dolphins, whales and pelagic seabirds

Charles Hood

A blue shark

If you are looking for a unique day on (and in) the water, you need to turn your attention to Charles Hood. Featured on the BBC’s One Show, this incredible experience takes you up close and personal with jaw-droppingly beautiful blue sharks. Departing from Penzance, you can climb aboard the specialist charter boat and enjoy the ride; you will enjoy a full-day excursion and have a 99% chance of seeing blues. 

With no cages or barriers in sight, this is a great way to get up close and personal with some of the ocean’s gentle giants. You’ll also stand a good chance of seeing dolphins, sunfish, minke whales, porpoises and a plethora of seabirds.

Best for: Seeing blue sharks

Location: Chynoweth Lane, St Hilary, Cornwall, TR20 9DU

We recommend: Getting in the water and snorkelling or swimming with blue sharks and basking sharks

Cormorant Cruising

Mousehole Harbour

Leaving from the quaint harbour town of Mousehole, Cormorant Cruising is a wonderful option if you simply want to sit back and take in the setting. A 12-passenger boat, MCA-certified (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) and manned by a local skipper, you will be in highly capable hands as you are taken past the sights, including the enchanting St Michael's Mount, Newlyn Harbour and Mousehole. It’s not just two-legged visitors who love this spot either, as a magnificent humpback whale has been sighted here several times in recent years.

Listen to stories of smugglers and pirates from the entertaining skipper and choose from cruises designed to spot wildlife or routes that are just filled with pleasant surroundings. This could be a great day out for kids in Cornwall as you’ll get the chance to see basking sharks, dolphins, grey seals, and seabirds.

Best for: The spellbinding backdrop

Location: Mousehole Harbour, Mousehole, Penzance TR19 6QG

We recommend: The 3-hour trip to Porthcurno and The Minack Theatre

Fowey Cruise

A view of Lantic Bay

If you love the water but don’t want to be out all day, a trip with Fowey Cruise is recommended. Appreciate a whole new perspective of the River Fowey from the water as you are given a commentary by the skipper and learn all about its history and literary connections. As part of the 45-minute, dog-friendly boat trip, you will be guided up the river, past Daphne Du Maurier's house, Fowey Docks and the Grade I-listed Place House.

There are also sea trips to vibrant destinations such as Polperro and Mevagissey, or shorter tours to Polridmouth and Lantic Bay. If you want a nice mixture of land and water, there are trips to the villages of Lostwithiel and Lerryn. Each excursion offers an hour ashore to explore the respective village.

Best for: Learning some local history

Location: Town Quay, Fowey PL23 1AT

We recommend: The 2.5-hour round trip to Lerryn, the village said to be the inspiration for Wind in the Willows

Padstow Sealife Safari

Some puffins

Offering a range of different boat trips including skippered boat hire, you can find exactly the right Cornwall boat trip for you with Padstow Sealife Safari. Meet the boat at Padstow Harbour and sail from there out of the spectacular Camel Estuary and into the big blue sea. Boasting glorious views of the Cornish coastline and towering cliffs, this is one of the best boat trips in Cornwall for those looking to take inspiration from the amazing coastal views.

This is also a great choice if you love speed, as the thrill of riding the RIB will excite all the adrenaline junkies in your group. On the RIB, it’ll take no time to reach Puffin Island to see the clowns of the sea, along with guillemots and razorbills. You’ll also likely see dolphins, minke whales and seals.

Best for: The mesmeric coastal views

Location: North Quay, Padstow Harbour, Padstow, pl28 8af

We recommend: The popular 2-hour Sealife Safari Boat Trip

Cornwall Waverunner Safaris

A view of Lusty Glaze

Better known for its surf than its seas safaris, Newquay still boasts numerous exciting boat trip opportunities for those looking to get out on the water yet remain dry(ish). Cornwall Waverunner Safaris offer power boat trips, high-speed RIB outings and even a Wet ‘n’ Wild boat trip. For this fun jaunt, you don your wetsuit, jump on a jet ski and head out to the boat. You’ll then head along the North Cornwall coastline taking in the scenery and glimpses of wildlife (seals, sunfish and dolphins), before stopping off at some exceptional coves for a swim.

Other exciting options from this provider include stand-up paddleboarding, jet skiing and surfing. No experience is necessary for any of these opportunities and the setting at Lusty Glaze is just phenomenal.

Best for: Adrenaline-fuelled fun

Location: Lusty Glaze Beach, Lusty Glaze Road, Newquay, Cornwall, TR7 3AE

We recommend: The Wet ‘n’ Wild boat trip

St Ives Boats

A seal just chilling in Cornwall

Calling all seal fans: this is the one for you. Setting off from the exceptionally beautiful St Ives Harbour, St Ives Boats welcome you to join them for a tour around the aptly named Seal Island or head across the bay towards Godrevy Lighthouse. The only accredited wildlife-safe operator (the WiSe Scheme) in St Ives Bay, you will be able to see adorable seals in their natural habitat and snap that perfect picture to take home with you.

Step aboard the famous Dolly P boat and explore an area that has been noted for its beauty and wildlife by The Most Beautiful Bays Club. As well as heading out to spot seals on the dog-friendly Seal Island trip, you’ll also have the opportunity to see whales, sharks, dolphins and more.

Best for: Seal lovers

Location: Smeatons Pier, Wharf Road, Saint Ives, TR26 1LP

We recommend: The St Ives Private Sea Safari Trip

Stay in a cottage in Cornwall

Now that you’ve read about the best boat trips in Cornwall, it’s time to choose one (or three) before deciding on your cottage destination. We have cottages to suit all tastes, some with outdoor showers to wash wetsuits and some with hot tubs to allow the watery relaxation to extend late into the evening.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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