Caingorms National Park

Top Water Sports to do in Cairngorms National Park

If you love water sports, this list of the top water sports in The Cairngorms National Park is just for you! Deep in the heart of the Scottish Highlands is UK’s largest National Park. This natural paradise offers outdoor activities for everyone, but watersports, in particular, are especially amazing here. read on to find out the best selection of activities you can enjoy in the Cairngorms National Park.



If you have never tried wakeboarding, now is the best time to start! Wakeboarding is one of several different sports known as “wake sports”. These activities involve being towed behind a motorized boat or personal watercraft with a closed-course cable system. This is basically a rope attached to the back of the boat and to the board. The rider uses whatever device they chose to surf the wake the boat makes as it travels across the water.

Wakeboarders can get moving up to 30-40 miles per hour, making this a high-octane adventure. More advanced riders often attempt tricks and jumps and compete in competitions. Events are organized by the World Wakeboarding Association.

Boats need to be equipped specifically for wakeboarding. They need a wakeboard tower, which places a pull point higher above the water’s making tricks possible. Wakeboarding boats also have what is known as a “ballast system” that pumps water to make the wake larger.

Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms National Park is one lake where you can take a wakeboarding excursion. It’s a super fun way to spend the day on a beautiful lake in Scotland.



One of the top water sports to do in the Cairngorms National Park is sailing! Sailing is a very fun sport which involves using the wind’s force against sails, wing sails or kites in order to propel a watercraft across the surface of the water.

When steering a sailboat, a sailor adjusts the alignment of each sail with consideration of wind direction in order to use the wind’s power. The forces on these sails are resisted by forces from the hull, keel, and rudder of a sailing craft.

As you can tell, sailing can quite complicated, and involves some skill to practice. In order to rent a sailboat, one needs to know how to operate it. That’s why it’s a great idea to take lessons from Loch Insh Sports Centre in the Cairngorms.

As one of their most popular sports, they offer multiple sailboat experiences. You can either take a chartered cruise or begin your own adventure and challenge learning to master the art of sailing. 



Canyoning is an adventurous water sport for those who love nature. This is precisely why the Cairngorms National Park is the perfect place to embark on a canyoning excursion. Canyoning involves hiking and navigating through beautiful canyon spaces using a variety of techniques. Canyoners perform hiking, scrambling, jumping, abseiling, and swimming as they travel through the rocky terrain.

Canyoning also refers to more technical descent than just a hike down a gorge — these paths require more agility to traverse. One can’t simply walk them, they must perform technical rappels using ropework, technical climbing, jumps, and technical swims.

The canyons in the Cairngorms are a high adrenaline water sport. These canyons boast fresh mountain water, huge jumps into natural rock pools, and refreshing swims under waterfalls. Participants can also slide down natural rock slides.



Another one of the top water sports to do in Cairngorms National Park is river-tubing. Tubing comes from North America, where most tubers relax and floating down a slow-flowing, mellow river. But in the Cairngorms, tubing is much more exciting than that! Riders can tube down whitewater rivers in this Scottish National Park over fun rapids and through stunning scenery.

Aviemore River Tubing offers guided river tubing adventures using specially-designed river tube. Here you can ride down one of the greatest mountain streams of the Cairngorm mountains. Along the way, you will alternate between fast-moving waters and drifting through beautiful Rothiemurchus pine forests.

You can also go tubing behind a watercraft in the lochs. Your tube will be securely attached to a powerboat and you will be pulled over the wakes for a bumpy and fun adrenaline rush!

Tubing is a great activity to combine with White Water Rafting and or Canyoning during your visit to Cairngorms National Park.

Stand-up paddleboarding

Stand-up Paddleboarding

The sport of Stand-up paddleboarding was invented by surfers in Hawaii, who were craving an ocean adventure when the seas didn’t offer any waves to ride.

Unlike traditional surfing where the rider lays flat and waits for a wave, stand up paddle boarders stand up straight and paddles on waves or on flat waters. The great thing is that waves aren’t needed to propel oneself on this kind of board. Another way to ride this board is while kneeling and paddling with the hands.

Loch Insh offers various types of paddleboards for water sports lovers to enjoy the lake. Single passenger boards are available, as well as large Paddle Boards that groups can all ride on together. These group boards are great for family or friends to bond over the sport together.

Stag and Hen groups can enjoy this together, as well as corporate team event participants. Up to 4 adults or 7 children can fit on each board. Many people like to set up competitive races between teams. It’s a fun and social way to enjoy the Cairngorms! 

For a couple, you can take a romantic sunrise Stand-up paddleboard experience at 7:30 am. In the mornings, the lake is very calm, peaceful and misty. It’s a truly zen way to start the day! 



Also known as powerboating, speed boating is a favourite activity for water sports lovers who visit the Cairngorms National Park. 

Loch Insh is a loch, or lake in the Highlands area of the National Park in  Scotland, and is where you can practice speed boating.  You can find the lake deep in the heart of the Badenoch and Strathspey region, just 11 kilometres south of Aviemore and 11 km north of Kingussie. 

Since most people don’t bring their own boats, Loch Insh Water Sports Centre is the perfect place to jump on board for a professional tour. Lessons are also available to learn how to drive the boat yourself. You can choose a two-day course which provides the skills and background knowledge required to drive a powerboat.

This course also teaches the foundations necessary to obtain an International Certificate of Competence. The manuevers you will learn include close quarters handling, high-speed manoeuvres, man overboard recovery and collision regulations. It’s a great activity for adventurers who love water sports to try in The Cairngorms!



Kayaks are a very versatile sporting tool. Kayaks can be used for whitewater kayaking, fishing, transporting equipment to dive sites, and more. Whitewater kayaking, in particular, is widely practised in the Cairngorms.

Cairngorms National Park is amazing because of the many rivers it has to offer for kayaking. The River Dee, also known as the Silver Dee, is a large river over 87 mile, or 140 kilometres long. This river is full of Scottish salmon, and turbulent fast-moving waters flow through Braemar, Invercauld, Balmoral and Ballater. It’s a great whitewater adventure.

Kayakers can also ride the River Don. This river flows over 81 miles (131 kilometres) East down to the sea in Aberdeen.  the Don is home to many freshwater fish species including salmon, sea trout, brown trout, and eels. This makes it a great choice for kayaking and fishing adventures.

Last but not least is The Spey River at over 109 miles, or 175 kilometres long. This river begins high up at Loch Spey, 1,000 feet up on the Monadhliath Mountains in the Corrieyairack Forest. It then flows down through Garten, Insh and Morlich on the way to into Spey Bay.



Last but not least on this list of top water sports in the Cairngorms National Parl is windsurfing. This amazing activity is a combination of surfing and kitesurfing. Also referred to as “boardsailing”, this sport was born out of surf culture in California in the early 1970s from the surf culture of California.

Windsurfing is popular on flat water locations such as lakes and is safe and accessible for beginners. This is precisely why the sport is so popular on the lakes of Cairngorms. Children as young as 5 can try windsurfing, and Learning to windsurf is now easier thanks to with the development of wider, high volume beginner boards. In fact, a beginner can improve to an intermediate level in only 2–3 weeks of daily sailing time.

If you would like to discover more sports and activities in the UK, check out all our UK sports activities on our website. You can also check out more articles about water sports, such as  The Best Rivers in Europe to Go Whitewater Kayaking!