There are plenty of ways to explore the waters of Loch Lomond to suit everyone. Loch Lomond is home to 22 named islands plus at least 27 islets. From Inchmurrin, which is the largest and has its own island pub, to Inchconnachan with its own colony of wallabies or Inchcailloch with the ancient ruins of St Kentigerna’s nunnery and burial grounds of Rob Roy’s ancestors.
The Balmaha Boatyard provides both scheduled and on-demand services. The journey to Inchcailloch is very short from here so during the summer months an on demand service is operated between 9am and 5pm. Adult tickets are £5 return whilst under 16s are £2.50 return. Alternatively you can catch the Mail Boat as it departs for its delivery rounds at 11:30am. The trip is a great way to see many of the named islands and you will also stop for an hour on Inchmurrin where you can refuel with refreshments before returning to Balmaha at 2pm.There are also four cruises that operate between 2pm and 4.30pm that enable you to explore the Loch Lomond Nature Reserve.
Private boat hire is also available with rowing boats hired by the hour from just £10 (£40 for the whole day) and motorised boats available from £60 for the day.
Sweeney’s cruises run three cruises and two waterbus services across Loch Lomond. The three cruises (Experience Cruise, Island Discovery Cruise and Sunset Cruise) range from one to two hours in length and depart from Balloch daily between the months of April to October.
There are two water bus services but the most convenient for Waterfront guests is the Balmaha to Luss service. Departing from the Balmaha Pier, just a short walk from The Waterfront, the ‘bus’ operates several services a day during peak season with tickets available on board. On route to Luss you will experience many of the lochs other islands with your knowledgeable driver pointing out the key sights. The waterbus is child friendly and binoculars are provided as well to help you spot the white stag, birds of prey and other rare wildlife in the area. Luss itself is a charming Highland village with a number of beautiful picnic spots and a range of local cafes and pubs serving food. Luss was also home to one of Britain’s oldest, and Scotland’s most iconic, soap operas Take the High Road (later renamed to High Road), which ran from 1980 to 2003.
Cruise Loch Lomond
Cruise Loch Lomond operates four cruises and three waterbus services on Loch Lomond between the western shore and the quieter eastern shore where Balmaha is situated. The three waterbus services (Inveruglas-Inversnaid-Tarbet, Rowardennan-Luss Ferry and the Inversnaid Ferry) operate between March and November with tickets costing £11.50 for a return adult fare and £7 for a return child fare. Cycle bikes are also welcome for an additional £1 charge each way.
The closest stop from Balmaha is Rowardennan, situated at the ‘end of the road’ at the foot of Ben Lomond. You’ll need a car to get there, or the more adventurous can cycle (but be warned – it is hilly) but the route is worth it – with some stunning views of the loch.
Canoes and kayaks
Canoes and kayaks can be hired from Balmaha House B&B which sits on the main road, opposite the boatyard in the heart of the village. You can launch directly in front of the B&B from the sheltered bay and within five minutes of paddling you will be on the banks of Inchcailloch. You can either catch one of the loch’s other cruises from here or continue by paddle power to explore the loch’s shore line and other islands. Advanced booking is recommended however as canoe numbers and types are limited.
Sailing boats and speed boats
If you are lucky enough to have your own boat, then our private beach at Loch Lomond Waterfront is an ideal launch site. The sandy banks and shallow waters make it a safe spot for even the youngest sailors to take to the water. We frequently take our small sailing boat out from here to explore the islands and stop off for a picnic on a one of the islands’ many secluded bays.
However, there are also two official launch sites for Loch Lomond with launch facilities and rangers on site. The largest of the two, and ideal for keeled boats, is Duncan Mills Memorial Slipway in Balloch which provides showering and changing facilities, tourist information and boat registration and a shop selling life jackets and other boating items. Millarochy Bay is the second site and is situated just a couple of miles past Balmaha. It is an ideal launch site for smaller boats and provides toilets and changing facilities as well as boat registration.
Time to take to the water
Loch Lomond is like a world in miniature and each island has something unique to offer. If you time your trip right you can end your day on our private beach watching the sunset across the water. All shades of oranges, pinks and purples will light up the sky on a clear day whilst the sun slowly sets behind Inchcailloch. Whatever way you choose to explore the waters of the loch, you wont be disappointed with the wildlife, scenery and history of Loch Lomond.