Marine Discovery Penzance - wildlife and dolphin watching boat trips

Frequently asked questions

When do you operate?

Our season usually starts in March and runs until the start of November. If the boat is back in the water and the conditions are favourable sometimes we start at February half term. If you have a voucher, make sure that you book well before the expiry if possible, especially if this expiry date is towards the end of the season.

Can I take children?

You are welcome to bring children of 6 and over on the Ocean Discovery and children of 3 and over on the Bay Discovery trips. We offer children's discounts on both trips. The Discovery Voyage is for people of 12 and over only. These ages are a general guide - we have found through experience that is best to have an age limit, as there are times on all trips when everyone needs to be quiet and listen, keep still and everyone needs to be able to follow safety instructions without question. Adults are reminded that they are responsible for the behaviour of accompanying children. If you think your child may struggle with the above on the three hour trip, why not book the Bay Discovery instead.

How much do your trips cost?

Trip prices vary; have a look at our Trips page to see the adult/child/family prices

How do I book and pay?

Send us an email or call us to enquire on the mobile phone number. If there's no answer, leave a message and someone will get back to you quickly. If you have a particular date in mind, we will always do our best to accomodate this. You will need to give us a contact name, a contact phone number (preferably a mobile), the number of people in your group, ages of any children and let us know of any relevant medical conditions or disabilities. Please bear in mind that trips will not be running every weekday during the early and the late season, so some flexibility is useful. It's always recommended that you book at the start of your stay in case the weather is bad and we can then postpone you until later in the week. We will request a 50% deposit to confirm your booking and the balance is paid on arrival by cash or cheque. This is refundable if the weather is unsuitable, though we will try and rearrange to another day if you like. Some people have vouchers - this needs to be made clear on booking, and please make sure your voucher is still in date. Please make sure you call us and let us know with as much notice as possible if you are unable to come for any reason or if there are fewer in the party. There's little that's more frustrating than everyone on the pier waiting for people who aren't coming!

What if the weather's bad?

The coastline in the far west of Cornwall is very dramatic and the weather can be as well! Trips are entirely weather dependent. It is strong wind and therefore rough sea which means we have to cancel sometimes - patchy or light rain is not a problem though obviously if it is pouring we will try and reschedule. Very thick fog is quite unusual, though again means we have to re-arrage. You'll need to call us two days before the trips to check the weather is ok to go ahead and confirm your places. Sometimes a forecast is uncertain and you may be asked to call again. If you are travelling a long way, you may want to call before you set off.

Where can I stay?

There are loads of lovely places to stay in and around Penzance. Have a look at our Links page for some of our favourites!

What should I wear?

Dress for the day's weather and then a bit more. It's always much cooler out at sea, especially at the start of the season, even well into May. Bring waterproofs if you have them - otherwise we can provide them. Hats, scarves and gloves are a good idea when it's cold, and on sunny days, high factor sunscreen is essential.

Do you see dolphins on every trip?

No, we do not see dolphins on every trip, nor every day. However we see cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) very frequently, and when the sea state is favourable you have a good chance of seeing them. Have a look at our Sightings page for an accurate and honest record of what we see and when (links to previous years are at the bottom of the page)

What about whales?

The best time to see whales is at the end of the summer and start of the autumn. We don't see them all the time, but they are out there. They are almost always minke whales, the smallest of the rorqual family. Again, check our Sightings page.

When is the best time to see basking sharks?

Generally the best time to see them is at the start of the summer in late May/June. Some years we will see hundreds all through the summer and into the autumn e.g. 2006 and 2007, some years there will be an intense flurry of activity over one period e.g. 2010 and some years there will be very few all year e.g. 2011! If you are really interested in basking sharks and want to maximise your chance of seeing them then the best thing to do is follow our Sightings page. Once we start to see them regularly then email or call and book your trip.

Can I get in the water with the wildlife?

Offereing commercial trips to swim with dolphins is forbidden under the wildlife watching guidelines we adhere to. We find we have excellent and memorable close encounters from the boat. Swimming with basking sharks is not something we currently offer; again there are strict protocols about how to do this properly with regard to limiting disturbance to the animals. Every time we have seen this attempted from boats we have seen these protocols compromised so as to get customers the encounter they want. It's very difficult to maintain safety of customers in the water while maintaining these rules. Therefore again, watching basking sharks is best done from the boat.

Can I take my dog?

Sorry but we can't take dogs aboard the boat on scheduled trips, no matter how small or well behaved. There are day kennels in the area. If you are chartering the boat privately, it may be possible to take your dog.

What about wheelchairs?

If we know in advance your requirements, then it may be possible to take wheelchair users on the boat. We need to run your trip over high tide so we can use the pontoon ajacent to the Albert Pier. Please note, you do need to have some movement to board the vessel, as it is not possible to wheel the chair onto the boat. Once aboard you can then sit in your chair for the duration of the trip if that's what you'd like to do. There is also bench seating available.

Is there a loo on board?

Yes!