Few areas of Scotland evoke as much wonder and awe as the legendary Isle of Skye. It’s an incredible place, full of breathtaking mountains and shady green glens where you can almost imagine faeries might dwell. The coastline is stunning, with rocky cliffs tumbling down to foamy seas, and the island is dotted with charming villages and colorful towns waiting to warmly welcome you with a hot cup of soup and some freshly-caught seafood. There’s even a hidden loch, accessible only by boat or by foot, tucked away in the Cuillin mountains in a setting of impossible beauty. Its name is Loch Coruisk, and it’s one of the best places to visit on the Isle of Skye.
M and I visited the Isle of Skye with his parents back in 2016 during the first half of our two-week adventure across Scotland and Ireland. Our boat trip to Loch Coruisk was the very first thing we did on the island, and it caused us to absolutely fall in love with Skye. We also later agreed that our time at Loch Coruisk was one of our favorite memories from our entire week in Scotland.
Loch Coruisk is a freshwater lake located among the impressive Cuillin Hills along the southern coast of the Isle of Skye. (The fact that they’re called “hills” seems to short-change the Cuillin a little. Height aside, they’re majestic enough to be called “mountains.”) The loch is most easily accessed by a 45-minute boat trip from the tiny village of Elgol. We were looking for a way to get out on the water during our time on Skye, and the prospect of a boat ride to a hidden loch where we could do some hiking in the mountains seemed too good to pass up.
After doing some research, we decided on a three-hour standard tour with Bella Jane Boat Trips, which cost a little less than $70 USD per couple. This most popular of their offerings included the boat ride to and from the mountains and an hour and a half
It was gray and gloomy as we made the drive from Culloden Battlefield near Inverness, and we very nearly didn’t make it to Elgol in time for our sailing. Although we plotted out the route and left early to be safe, it’s amazing how those narrow, winding roads can eat up your buffer time! Thanks to some expert driving by M and the grace of the Bella Jane crew, we were able to board our boat with a collective sigh of relief and set off on our adventure!
While the air was chilly and we were hit with the occasional sprinkle of rain, it was still enjoyable to be out on the water. It was a beautiful journey, and our stalwart captain pointed out the different islands in the distance, identified prominent landmarks, and shared a bit of the history of the area, including some of his own family stories. The mountains began to rise around us as we motored into a wild-looking cove, and soon we began spotting seals relaxing on the rocks and attempting to sun themselves.
As we neared the rickety metal gangplank and stairs that would allow us to disembark, the most amazing thing happened. Suddenly, the sky cleared. Where minutes before we had been shaded by a thick cover of clouds and threatened by rain, blue sky began to shine through. The sun emerged, and we all shed our coats and hats to bask in a gloriously warm and bright afternoon. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for us to be able to enjoy our time onshore; it was as if we had entered into a secret, sunny land kept hidden from the rest of the gray and drizzly world.
And enjoy it, we did! The views from our landing site were magnificent, so much so that it took us a while to actually make our way to the loch because we were so awestruck by the beauty around us. The Bella Jane had docked at a rocky headland that jutted out into a roughly u-shaped cove, with mountains and hills lightly dusted with green vegetation rising all around. The water was a beautiful blue-green, and as we followed the path away from the boat we came upon the lovely Scavaig River that runs the short distance between Loch Coruisk and the sea.
The loch itself is obscured behind some hills, but a short hike along the Scavaig takes you farther inland and rewards you with your first glimpses of the hidden lake.
Loch Coruisk truly is a wondrous place, and you can almost understand why legends of a water horse and other mythical creatures have sprung up around the area. The mountains are so majestic and imposing, and they and the lake seem to conceal secrets that you can’t help but want to discover.
Scenery aside, one of the best things about the hike around Loch Coruisk is that the rocks you’ll be scrambling over have a sandpaper-like texture that
The four of us also were nearly alone, having only had two other couples and a young child on our boat with us when we arrived. As such, our group easily and naturally spread out, leaving us feeling like we had the entire amazing place to ourselves. Even if you have a couple of tours or a larger group arriving at once, the area is so large that it shouldn’t feel crowded.
While I could have continued scrambling along the lakeside indefinitely, exploring hidden corners and seeing what was around each rocky outcrop, the four of us also took some time to just sit down on the boulders, legs dangling toward the water, and enjoy the peaceful view. I encourage you to do the same at some point in your hike: sit back, relax, and let your worries melt into the rocks around you as you marvel at the natural beauty of the landscape.
We were fortunate enough to get some extra time to explore the loch, as the Bella Jane had been chartered to transport a group of researchers to a different location at that hour and would be a little late in returning for us. Especially since the weather had turned around so magnificently, we didn’t mind a bit! Eventually, though, it was time to return to the dock to meet the Bella Jane. We didn’t want to miss the last boat and get stranded overnight!
With the blue skies and the warm weather, the ride back to Elgol was such a delight. We were sorry to watch the mountains fade into the distance behind us, but as we drew closer to Elgol the afternoon light fell beautifully upon the colorful and charming homes that clung to the rocky shores beside us. We had been impressed by the views on the way out, but they were simply stunning as the sun was setting on our way back.
All in all, our boat trip to Loch Coruisk was one of the best decisions we made during our week in Scotland. The scenery was unbelievably gorgeous, the hiking was easy and fun, and we had the magical place almost entirely to ourselves! It truly felt off-the-beaten-path, like we were experiencing a hidden corner of an island that is no stranger to tourist crowds. None of the four of us would hesitate to return if we found ourselves on Skye again, and I highly encourage you to make the trip part of your Scottish itinerary!
Tips for a Boat Trip to Loch Coruisk
- We had a great experience with Bella Jane Boat Trips, but Misty Isle Boat Trips is also well-reviewed, with similar prices and trip options if you’d like to do some comparison shopping. Either way, make sure to book ahead.
- Pay close attention to the time (don’t forget a watch or your phone!) so you don’t miss your ride back to Elgol. The dock is out of sight of the loch, so you won’t be able to watch for the boat’s arrival as you’re exploring.
- If the weather looks promising and an hour and a half doesn’t seem like enough time, Bella Jane Boat Trips offers more flexible options that can give you between three and six and a half hours onshore. This additional time will allow you to explore deeper into the mountains or even complete a full circuit around the loch. My research suggests that the loop will take between three and four hours, and it’s probably a spectacular hike! You can also book a
one wayticket and hike all the way back to Elgol, but make sure to do your research because parts of the trek (notably the appropriately named “Bad Step”) can be treacherous.
- Allow extra time to get to the town of Elgol before your trip. The village is less than fifteen miles from the main highway turnoff in Broadford, but the road is narrow, winding, and will take longer than you expect. We very nearly missed our boat despite thinking we had left in plenty of time!
- The drive to and from Elgol is also incredibly scenic, so plan to stop for some photos!
- Dress or be prepared for all kinds of weather, as it can change even during the course of a short trip. Don’t forget rain gear, as there isn’t much shelter from the elements or an option to cut your time short if the weather turns bad.
- Wear sturdy shoes for hiking. A trekking or hiking pole may also be helpful.
- Bring water and snacks. We received our choice of drinks on the ride back to Elgol, but you’ll want to make sure you have provisions for the entire journey!
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Have you been to Skye? What were your favorite things you did there?
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This guide to Loch Coriusk boat trips was originally posted on June 18, 2018, and last updated on June 29, 2020.
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