Boat Trips in Cornwall: Explore Beyond the Shore

Boat trips in Cornwall

Castaway on a coastal adventure in Cornwall. On a cruise. Under sail. Onboard a ferry. By paddle power or powerboat. With over 300 miles of coastline teeming with wildlife, any holiday to Cornwall beckons you to explore beyond the shore. So, head to the seaside and hop aboard some of these best boat trips in Cornwall

Padstow Sealife Safaris, Padstow 

Passengers explore the coast with Padstow Sealife Safaris
Image courtesy of Padstow Sealife Safaris.

Strap in for a full-throttle adventure that brings you face-to-face with Cornwall’s incredible sea life and shows you the stunning coastline from the water. You might see seals, dolphins, whales, puffins and porpoises as you power along in a state-of-the-art boat, with an expert skipper at the helm. All trips leave from the pretty Padstow harbour, whether you choose a one-hour seal safari, a three-hour explorers trip, or stay in the shelter of the Camel Estuary for a calmer ride.

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Jubilee Queen, Padstow 

The Jubilee Queen boat trip in Camel Estuary near padstow, Cornwall
Image courtesy of Jubilee Queen

If you’re looking to explore the North Cornwall coastline at a more leisurely pace, aboard a more luxurious liner, cruise in style on the Jubilee Queen – which also departs from Padstow. An iconic vessel that has been cruising in Cornish waters for 40 years, this sleek lady of the sea welcomes the whole family – including young pirates and four-legged friends – to enjoy a 1.5-hour spin to see seabirds, marine life, secluded coves and rugged beaches. As you’d expect of a luxury liner, there’s also a well-stocked bar onboard. 

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Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe, Carbis Bay

Experience a different perspective of the Cornish coastline when you cast away from Carbis Bay, near St Ives, in a Hawaiian outrigger canoe with underwater viewers. The deep-blue waters lapping St Ives’ Bay are thriving with the likes of seals, silver pipefish and sunfish, which you can see from the seat of your vessel without even getting your hair wet. Carrying up to six people, these traditional canoes are perfect for families keen to explore the coast and the underwater world with an expert guide. 

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The Scillonian, Penzance

The Scillonian Ferry links Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly
Board the Scillonian Ferry to land on the paradise archipelago of the Isles of Scilly

Did you know that 28 miles off the south-west tip of Cornwall awaits a sub-tropical archipelago of over 50 islands, that’s home to white-sand beaches, exotic gardens and wild heathland? Take a day trip on The Scillonian ferry from Penzance to the Isles of Scilly, where you can roam along golden shores and rocky promontories, boat hop between paradise islands, and pause to refuel in tea rooms, traditional inns and seafood shacks. 

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King Harry Ferry, Truro

The King Harry Ferry in Cornwall

Despite being one of the shortest boat trips in Cornwall, the historic King Harry chain ferry – which links the outskirts of Truro to the bucolic Roseland Peninsula – is one of the most scenic boat trips in Cornwall. A glorious way to arrive and depart from the sub-tropical Trelissick gardens, the ferry crosses the ancient flooded valley of the Carrick Roads, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. If you want to explore further, the King Harry Ferry is just one of the Fal River ferry routes along this network of waterways between Truro, St Mawes and Flushing.  

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Coast Boat Trips, Penzance

Sitting on the edge of Mount’s Bay, Penzance is a wonderful destination to embark on a sea-bound journey to see Cornwall’s coastline. Coast Boat Trips pack an incredible array of landmarks and wildlife into a one-hour boat trip from St Michael’s Mount to Gwennap Head, making this the perfect excursion for families. However, if your sea legs are a little more accustomed to the open water, hop on a one-way trip around the toe of Cornwall from Penzance to Hayle, for one of the most exciting, unique boat rides in Cornwall. 

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Marine Discovery Sailing Adventure, Penzance

Dolphins are a regular sight on boast trips in Cornwall
You might be lucky enough to spot dolphins in Mounts Bay.

If you want to experience a more eco-friendly adventure from Penzance, feel the wind in your sails onboard the Shearwater II catamaran on a marine wildlife-watching adventure in West Penwith. Exploring the coastline under sail offers the quietest experience possible, so you can get closer to nature, hearing the splashes of the gannets as they dive, and the whistles of the dolphins as they bow-ride. Trips are two to four hours long, and you could encounter grey seals, seabirds, dolphins, sunfish, or even giants such as minke whales, humpback whales, basking sharks and leatherback turtles. 

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Orca Sea Safaris, Falmouth 

Orca Sea Safaris - one of the best boat trips in Cornwall
Image courtesy of Orca Sea Safaris

Hop aboard Seaquest of Falmouth for the chance to encounter seabirds, seals and – if you’re lucky – dolphins or basking sharks, on an ocean adventure. Whether you opt for a two-hour Coastal Explorer or one-hour Bay Discovery, your expert guides will share fascinating knowledge about the area’s history and wildlife, as you explore the crystalline waters of Falmouth’s coast

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Cormorant Cruising, St Clement’s Island, Mousehole

Passengers on board a boat exploring St Clement's Isle with Cormorant Cruising
Enjoy a coastal cruise to St Clement’s Isle and beyond. Image by Chris Yacoubian, courtesy of Cormorant Cruising

Just off the coast of Mousehole lies the tiny St Clement’s Isle, where once a chapel stood in honour of St. Clement. However, hop on a cruise from Mousehole harbour to St Clement’s, and instead of a chapel, what you can see these days is a colony of seals and seabirds that now reign this rocky outcrop. It’s said that some locals choose to swim the 500m route offshore and back, but we’d suggest the ease of a one-hour Coastal Cruise with an experienced skipper, which will also take you to Lamorna Cove and the majestic Tater-du Lighthouse. 

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Glass-bottomed Boat Cruise, Looe

There are plenty of pleasure boats leaving Looe Harbour to explore Southeast Cornwall – from sailing trips to fishing trips. However, the best way to witness the wonders of the marine world and the wildlife on Looe Island (also known as St Georges) is on a 45-minute ride aboard a glass-bottomed boat. With a brand-new, custom-built boat hitting the water for the 2024 season, what better way to explore what’s beneath the gin-clear sea? 

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Fowey River Trips and Cruising, Fowey

Dog enjoying a boat trip in Falmouth, Cornwall
Dogs are welcome aboard Fowey River Cruises. Image by Hayley Lawrence

Messing around on the river in Fowey is what inspired Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows. So, how better to explore this enchanting estuary scenery made famous by authors Grahame and Daphne du Maurier, than to hop on a relaxing river cruise that takes you past Du Maurier’s house and Fowey’s China Clay docks, before floating downstream to Readymoney Cove and Polruan? Along the way you’ll come face-to-face with wildlife on land and sea, and be inspired to pen your own tome based in this idyllic, watery corner of Cornwall. 

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Newquay Sealife Cruises and Fishing, Newquay 

Newquay harbour is buzzing with boats and fishermen from dawn to dusk. Not just a surfy town, here you can immerse yourself in the fishing heritage of North Cornwall, on a sealife safari or fishing trip. Choose from a two-hour Coastal Wildlife Cruise to get a close-up view of seals and marine life, or head out on a Mackerel Fishing Trip and see if you can snag dinner for the whole family. 

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Ready to cast away on a boat trip in Cornwall?

Whatever level of seafaring adventure you’re keen for, experience the best of the coast by staying at a holiday cottage from our collection of seaside holiday accommodation in Cornwall.

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