New digital marine map for visitors to explore Scotland’s west coast this summer

Visitors travelling by sea around the west coast of Scotland this summer are being encouraged to discover the coast by land or sail using a new digital marine tourism map to explore the area’s rich history and natural wonders.

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Exploring the west coast of Scotland using MaraMap. Image by Zeemon Erhardt.

MaraMap is an interactive map allowing users to explore over 300 ‘marine hubs’ - locations on the west coast of Scotland where they can access the sea. Researchers hope it will help visitors experience the benefits of slow and sustainable tourism around the west coast from remote anchorages to bustling marinas.

Designed by a team at the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research, based at West Highland College UHI, in collaboration with West Coast Waters and other stakeholders, MaraMap highlights everything from idyllic island beaches to wildlife hotspots between the Mull of Kintyre in the south, west to St Kilda and up to the northerly tip of the Isle of Lewis.

Anyone travelling by ferry, sailors, kayakers and canoeists or visitors using local marine guides can discover coastal archaeological and heritage sites, lighthouses and shipwrecks while also checking for essential nearby facilities at their port of call.

Carron Tobin, West Coast Waters coordinator and director at ruralDimensions, said: 

“West Coast Waters has been an incredibly exciting initiative bringing all the west coast destination groups together to promote the coastal experiences on offer and encouraging visitors to get on if not in the water and to immerse their senses. Getting off the beaten track is a core campaign message.

“MaraMap came about following the detailed inventory of all the marine access points to get on or off the water which we undertook back in 2018 and it is now a fantastic resource as we come out of lockdown and people from across Scotland and wider afield are seeking to explore the great outdoors. The resource we have on the west coast is vast and MaraMap brings this to life in a very tangible way.”

With funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the West Coast Marine Tourism Collaboration (now known as West Coast Waters) coordinated a team of local agents to collect detailed information about marine hubs in their area, including practical information about facilities and nearby activities and attractions. This information has been supplemented with data from other organisations, including NatureScot and the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, to show interesting features such as heritage and nature sites, activity trails and protected areas.

All environmental and wildlife information has been sourced from conservation and research organisations and the map also includes links to outdoor codes and wildlife watching guidelines to encourage responsible tourism. Disclaimers on the map also caution users to check and follow current Scottish government Covid-19 guidelines before planning any travel.

MaraMap has been co-financed by the CAPITEN project of the Interreg Atlantic Area regional development programme. CAPITEN is managed by the Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research at UHI in Scotland and brings together 16 partners from Scotland, Ireland, France, Portugal and Spain to develop and promote sustainable marine tourism initiatives. The map was developed with input from ruralDimensions and DesignLine Creative. Whereverly carried out the digital development work.

Explore the MaraMap on the West Coast Waters website at https://www.westcoastwaters.co.uk/.