The Scottish region of Argyll & Bute is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and rich marine life. Among the many wonders on offer, dolphin watching is a must-do experience for nature enthusiasts visiting the area. If you’re eager to catch a glimpse of these amazing sea creatures, Argyll is the perfect destination.

In this article, we’ll explore the best spots for dolphin watching in Argyll, provide insights into the dolphin species found in the region, offer tips for planning your trip, and emphasise the importance of responsible dolphin watching.

Different Types of Dolphin Species in Argyll

Argyll is home to a number of different species of dolphins, each with its own distinct characteristics. Let’s take a quick look at the various species that can be found around Argyll! 

Common Dolphin

Two common dolphins in argyll

The common dolphin, also known as Delphinus Delphis, is a regular visitor of Argyll’s waters and is known for its playful nature and acrobatic displays. The common dolphin can be identified by the yellow hourglass pattern found on their side.

Bottlenose Dolphin

Bottlenose Dolphin in argyll

Bottlenose dolphins, also known as Tursiops Truncatus, can also be found around the coast of Argyll. Bottlenoses are known for their intelligence and social behaviour and can be found all over the world. The bottlenoses found around Argyll and the Hebrides are actually much bigger than those found in other parts of the world, due to the colder climate here in Scotland.

Risso’s Dolphins

Risso Dolphins in argyll

Risso’s dolphins, also known as Grampus Griseus, can be seen with their uniquely scarred appearance, large dorsal, and gentle demeanour. They can be seen around Argyll during summer in shallower waters.

Best Place to Watch Dolphins in Argyll

We’ll delve into the best locations in Argyll to capture a glimpse of these beautiful creatures.


Oban from the sea

Let’s begin with the town we call home, Oban.

Due to its proximity to the Hebrides Islands, Oban offers some great opportunities for dolphin watching. The waters surrounding Oban are full of dolphin prey, giving us a good chance to see them!

There are a number of different tours that depart from Oban. Each tour offers unique water-based experiences, including dolphin watching. If you’re interested, you can click here to be redirected to a list of the available Oban-based tours.

Isle of Mull

Isle of Mull

The Isle of Mull boasts picturesque coastlines and tranquil waters, attracting a great deal of dolphins which are regularly seen. We recommend heading to areas such as Tobermory Bay and the Treshnish Isles for a greater chance to witness dolphins in their natural habitat.

There are multiple tours, dedicated to dolphin watching, that depart from the Isle of Mull. Click here to be redirected to a list of the available Mull-based tours.


Islay beach

Known for its stunning beaches and diverse wildlife, Islay is a haven for those seeking to see dolphins. Port Ellen and Kilnaughton Bay are popular locations to spot these magnificent creatures.

If you find yourself in Islay, there are daily tours that allow you explore the wildlife found around the beautiful island.

Factors to Consider Before Dolphin Watching

Although you’re making the right decision and choosing to see dolphins in their natural habitat, there are some things to remember before you head off on your next adventure!

Avoiding Noise & Light Pollution

If you’re lucky and get close to some dolphins, it’s important that all sonar devices are switched off. Noise pollution can also be reduced by slowing the boat down and maintaining a steady direction.

As expected, you’ll want to capture the moment with some photography. It’s recommended that you turn the camera’s flash off before doing so, to ensure the dolphins don’t become stressed.

Respect the Dolphins Space

In the UK, dolphins are protected by law under the 1941 ‘Wildlife & Countryside Act’, meaning it’s a criminal offence to harass them.  

Not only is it against the law, but swimming with dolphins is not recommended by experts, who advise you always maintain a safe distance above the water.

By refraining from swimming, you allow the animals to experience the most natural observation from a human perspective, ensuring their well-being and minimising any potential disturbances or stressors.

Stay Safe

two Life Jackets

Prioritise your safety during dolphin-watching trips. Follow the instructions of the tour guide and crew, ensuring that you wear appropriate safety equipment, such as life jackets. Dress warmly, as the coastal weather can change rapidly. Stay hydrated and carry essentials such as sunscreen, binoculars, and waterproof clothing. Adhere to local regulations and guidelines to protect both yourself and the marine environment.

Now You Know!

In conclusion, Argyll offers a remarkable experience for nature enthusiasts. With its breathtaking landscapes and rich marine life, the region is a perfect destination for dolphin watching. By exploring the best spots in Argyll, understanding the diverse dolphin species found in the area, and practicing responsible dolphin watching, you can create unforgettable memories here in Argyll!

If you’re ready to book your next dolphin-watching tour, but unsure where to stay, you can browse our website to find out more about Oban’s most luxurious hotel