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Getting out on the water is a wonderful way to see the landscape of the islands and also sea life.
Gordon Grant Tours leads an excursion from Oban to Mull, Iona, and Staffa and leaves Mull on other trips to Treshnish Isles and Staffa. From Taynuilt, near Oban, boat trips are available from Loch Etive Cruises Easter through October. Sea Life Surveys offers four- and six-hour whale-watching and wildlife day trips from Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull.
Turas-Mara runs daily excursions in summer from Oban and Mull to Staffa, Iona, and the Treshnish Isles and specializes in wildlife tours. On a daylong trip to the Treshnish islands, you might see puffins, seals, otters, and, at certain times of year, dolphins and the occasional whale. Staffa is the site of Fingal's Cave, immortalized by Mendelssohn's overture.
Gordon Grant Tours (Railway Pier, Achavaich, PA34 4AL. 01681/700338. www.staffatours.com.)
Loch Etive Cruises (Kelly's Pier, Etive View, Taynuilt, PA35 1JQ. 01866/822430.)
Sea Life Surveys (A848, Tobermory, PA75 6NR. 01688/302916. www.sealifesurveys.com.)
Turus-Mara (Penmore Mill, Dervaig, PA75 6QS. 01688/400242. www.turusmara.com.)
Many of the bus companies in the area also arrange sightseeing tours, so check with them. Bowman's Tours runs trips from Oban.
Bowman's Tours (Queens Park, Oban, PA37 1QA. 01631/563221. www.bowmanstours.co.uk.)