Here’s where and when you can see basking sharks in Scotland

The world’s second largest fish, basking sharks are common visitors to Scotland during the summer months.

A basking shark. Photo taken off the coast of the Island of Coll.

The majestic giants, which can often grow to ten metres in length and weigh several tonnes, swim up from the south of England to binge on plankton in Scottish waters.

They can usually be seen from the end of April until autumn and if you are lucky you might catch a glimpse of one from the shore.

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But the best way to see them is to go out and find them and there are a number of boat tours which take you right to basking shark hotspots.

A basking shark. Photo taken off the coast of the Island of Coll.

These are some of the best places to go if you want to see basking sharks in Scotland.


Mull is a popular place to spot the giant fish, and a number of tours operate from nearby Oban. One of the earliest sightings of basking sharks on record in 2018 was in Mull, with three giant sharks spotted in early April.


Basking shark in Scotland. (Image: TSPL)

The largest island in the Inner Hebrides is another key location to see the majestic fish. They are very common in the sheltered coves around Neist, Oisgill and Milovaig during the summer months.

Isle of Coll

Another Inner Hebrides hotbed for wildlife, Isle of Coll may be a breeding ground for basking sharks, according to research from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). There have been sightings off Coll not just of fully grown basking sharks, but of young sharks too and May is a great time to spot them.

Eigg, Rum and Canna

A number of basking shark spotting trips operate around the Small Isles. These are popular stop-offs on a shark’s journey up from Cornwall to the more northerly parts of Scotland’s west coast.


Basking Sharks are regular summer visitors to the coastal waters of Lewis and Mangersta Head, a beautiful beach on the west of the island is a great place to spot them. Usually you can see them feeding on plankton on the surface of the water and they are most visible in July and August.


The stunning turqoise sea around the Isle of Tiree provides a rich feeding ground for the friendly giants during the summer. Hot-spots include Hynish Bay, Balemartine and Crossapol and Gunna Sound from Caoles. You can also spot them from the CalMac ferry between Coll and Tiree.


Sightings of basking sharks have been reported off the Cock of Arran just north of Lochranza during the autumn months. There have also been reports of sharks on the east side of the island near the village of Corrie.