Wildlife watching: 15 sightseeing tours

Go wild in Wales with an experienced guide who knows the very best places to see whales, dolphins, rare butterflies and nesting puffins.

  • Benllech beach, Anglesey
    Benllech Beach, Anglesey by davep90

    Celticos offers a tour of two North Wales Wildlife Trust reserves on Anglesey. You’ll start by meeting the warden at Cemlyn, a coastal reserve with a lagoon and shingle bank. In summer, it’s one of the most important tern colonies in Wales. Later you’ll explore Cors Goch near Benllech, a grassland, heathland and wetland habitat, rich in butterflies, dragonflies, amphibians and reptiles.

  • Anglesey Coastline
    The coastline of Anglesey by C Branston

    Caroline Bateson of Anglesey Wildlife Walks, a guide with over 20 years’ experience in nature conservation, offers half day or full day walks in several sections of the Anglesey Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Sightings may include seals, porpoises, rare plants and butterflies.

  • Bardsey Island from Braich y Pwll
    Bardsey Island from Braich y Pwll

    Colin Evans of Bardsey Island Boat Trips comes from a family of lobster fishermen who have lived on the Llŷn Peninsula for generations. He runs crossings and day-trips to Bardsey from the appealing village of Aberdaron. When the weather’s good, you can cruise Bardsey Sound, watching seabirds, seals and dolphins, while hearing about the region’s maritime history.

  • A black grouse on the Welsh Moors in North East Wales
    Black grouse, North East Wales by Mick Sway

    Black grouse are rare in Wales and even rarer in England. If you’d like to see one, Coed Llandegla in the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB is the place – 50 per cent of the Welsh population of these charismatic birds live within one mile of here. In the breeding season, from late March to May, RSPB officers lead guided walks through the forest to a lek, where the males screech, display and mock-charge each other to win a mate.

  • Llangorse Lake, Brecon Beacons
    Llangorse Lake, Brecon Beacons

    Planet Wales offers bespoke tours of the Brecon Beacons National Park, led by a former nature reserve warden. Exploring the hills, woodlands and waterways of this diverse park, you could see brown hares, otters and water voles, marsh fritillary butterflies and great crested newts. Longer tours which take in Gower, the Glamorgan Heritage Coast and the Severn Estuary are possible, too.

  • Porpoise swimming off the Pembrokeshire coast, near Ramsey Island
    Porpoise swimming off Pembrokeshire coast

    From Neyland, opposite Pembroke Dock, the Cartlett Lady cruises around the Pembrokeshire coast in search of dolphins and porpoises. With luck, you may even spot orcas and sharks: basking sharks, blue sharks and porbeagles are sometimes seen in these waters. The boat has a flying bridge for great all-round visibility and carries just 12 passengers, for an exclusive feel.

  • A pod of dolphins playing and leaping out of the water off the Ceredigion coast
    A pod of dolphins off the Ceredigion coast by A Bay To Remember

    Dolphin Survey Boat Trips offer fascinating dolphin-watching cruises from New Quay, lasting from an hour upwards. On a full-day trip, you’ll accompany researchers from the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre as they collect important data and listen in on the dolphins’ conversations via an underwater microphone. As an alternative, A Bay to Remember offers fun RIB trips from Cardigan, Gwbert and Poppit Sands.

  • Ramsey Island
    Ramsey Island, Pembrokeshire coast

    This summer birdwatching tour from Thousand Island Expeditions is led by an RSPB warden. Setting out from the historic St Justinian’s lifeboat station, you’ll circle Grassholm, the world’s fourth largest gannet colony, home to 39,000 pairs. Later, you land on Ramsey, where you’ll hear about the island’s history and ecology. You’re then free to explore, looking for choughs, kittiwakes, peregrine falcons and seals.

  • Duck and ducklings at Parc Slip

    Parc Slip, Glamorgan Heritage Coast

     by christopher james

    The 300-acre Parc Slip at Tondu, near Bridgend, is the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales’ flagship nature reserve in South Wales: its meadows and wetlands support over 1000 wildlife species. Guided walks take place on a regular basis, starting from the Visitor Centre and focusing on moths, butterflies, dragonflies or birds. There’s also a weekly Reptile Ramble.

  • Puffins on Puffin Island, Anglesey
    Puffins on Puffin Island, Anglesey

    Despite the name, Anglesey’s Puffin Island isn’t the best place in Wales for puffin-watching – Skomer and Skokholm have bigger colonies. But on a spring or early summer cruise around the island with Beaumaris Marine or Starida, you’re likely to see a few, along with crowds of guillemots and razorbills, jostling for space on the cliffs, plus sandwich terns, eider ducks and cormorants.

  • The sun setting behind The Skerries

    The Skerries, Anglesey

     by Kris Williams

    Designed in association with Bear Grylls for wildlife-watchers with a sense of adventure, this RIB trip from Ribride takes you from Holyhead to the wild, remote Skerries, home to a huge population of Arctic, common and roseate terns, plus breeding puffins and kittiwakes. You then continue to North Stack for caves and sea cliffs, and to South Stack for scores of sea birds in the RSPB reserve.

  • Razorbill on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire
    Razorbill on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire

    Launching from Martin’s Haven near Marloes, the Dale Princess offers gentle trips around the bird-rich islands of Skomer, Skokholm and Grassholm, with commentary from the crew. On a spring or summer sunset cruise, you’ll see puffins, gannets and other seabirds returning to home base after a day’s fishing. High-speed sea safaris by RIB in the Skomer Marine Nature Reserve are also available.

  • Stackpole Quay
    Stackpole Quay, Pembrokeshire

    David Blackmore, a Green Badge Guide based in Pembrokeshire, offers five-hour tours of the ecologically diverse region around Stackpole in May and June. Inland, you’ll explore wooded valleys and ancient lily ponds, home to otters, water birds and dragonflies. The coast is a beautiful stretch of cliffs and coves alternating with beaches and dunes.

  • Dolphin swimming near New Quay on the Ceredgion coast
    Dolphin swimming near New Quay, Ceredigion by Shane Jones

    Voyages of Discovery in St Davids have been perfecting the art of whale and dolphin watching in West Wales since 2002. Their detailed knowledge of Pembrokeshire’s coastal and offshore waters ensures regular sightings of resident and migrating dolphins (common, bottlenose and Risso’s), whales (minke, sei and fin), orcas and sharks. May to September are the best months, particularly June.

  • A stonechat resting at RSPB Ynys Hir
    RSPB Ynys Hir, Ceredigion by Michael Day

    In the summer months, this RSPB reserve in Ceredigion organises fun, informative guided tours and activities for kids. Choose from Wildlife Explorer afternoons, with pond-dipping and bug hunts, and Story Walks, tours with a professional storyteller who weaves stories from the natural world into the experience.