The most popular place to see dolphins is probably a good indicator of the best place to see them! That’s Chanonry Point between Fortrose and Rosemarkie on the Black Isle. This narrow peninsula is an ideal location with views across the Moray Firth to Fort George and with lots of fellow dolphin watchers you are unlikely to miss any sightings.
Dolphin activity here is influenced by tidal conditions. Dolphins at Chanonry Point can be seen at anytime (and not at all!) but the best time to see them is usually on a rising tide. From around 1 hour after low tide, the tide turns and dolphins start to chase fish in. If you are lucky enough to see dolphins, you'll often be incredibly close and only a matter of metres from them as they feed in the channel.
Dolphins are wild animals so there are no guarantees you will see them. However it's the correlation between low tide and optimal feeding conditions at Chanonry Point which mean there is a high success rate. Depending on tide times there are sometimes two opportunities a day. Consider going to other locations as well - less crowded! For example, if there are dolphins at Chanonry Point, there's a good chance there will be sightings later in the Inverness/North Kessock area.
The main viewing area is on a shingle beach behind the lighthouse which can be accessed by walking along the beach (tide permitting) or the path near the entrance to the small car park.
If you see dolphins you are likely to see various types of behaviour. Foraging where the dolphin appears to continually dives as it swims against the current. Tail slapping to communicate with their peers is also common. Other behaviours include tossing salmon in the air and yhey will often be in a playful mood and breach completely out of the water as they appear to leap into the air!
Directions to Chanonry Point
To find Chanonry Point, head through Fortrose on the Black Isle. Just after the police station turn right and you'll travel through Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Course. You'll arrive at small and often extremely busy car park beside the old lighthouse.
However, it is not recommended that you use the car park. This car park can get grid locked especially in the summer. It is highly recommended that you use alternative means to get to Chanonry Point, including parking at Fortrose and either walking or taking the Dolphin Shuttle Bus.
It's now possible to get the bus from Inverness Bus Station to Fortrose which connects with the Dolphin Shuttle. For full details of how to get to Chanonry Point see the link below.
There are generally no eating facilities at Chanonry Point and there are no public toilets. Nearby Fortrose and Rosemarkie have places to eat, toilet facilities and car parking.
Planning to go dolphin spotting at Chanonry Point?
Fortrose & Chanonry Point Tide Times 2018 are available to download from our bookshop. As used by dolphin spotters, photographers and tourists on the Moray Firth.This includes guidance notes in order to forecast the best days and times to go dolphin watching at Chanonry Point and North Kessock. We also publish a comprehensive guide to watching the Moray Firth Dolphins. Visit our bookshop >>>
The best time to see dolphins is usually from when the tide starts to rise again after low tide although they may take some time to arrive. If you are on holiday it’s possible to plan well in advance the best days and times to watch for them so you can maximise your chances of seeing them and spend the rest of the time doing other things.
We publish the Fortrose & Chanonry Point Tide Times 2018 complete with guidance notes on how you can calculate optimal dolphin watching times at Chanonry Point on any particular day.