Norfolk is a county which offers plenty of boating opportunities; from the 90 or so miles of coastline to the rivers and the Broads, if you have a particular interest in taking a boat trip then there will be numerous ways to do so. The type of boats available are also pretty diverse from Mississippi-style paddle steamers to self-drive cruisers meaning that wherever you fancy sailing and however you fancy doing it, Norfolk have got you covered.
The Wash Monsters
The Wash Monsters at Hunstanton are definitely one of Norfolk’s more unique attractions; they are ex-military vehicles known as LARCV (Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo Vessels) and were built in the late 1960s to be used as landing craft by American forces. Now, these two amphibious vehicles takes tourists from the beach at Hunstanton straight out into the sea. With distinct markings which are easy to spot as they cut through the waves, these boats can seat up to 60 people at any one time and there are five different coastal tours available. One of particular interest has to be the tour which takes you out to see the wreck of the Steam Trawler Sheraton; first used as a fishing boat and then for boom defence work during the First World War and for patrols during the Second World War, in 1947 during a gale the Trawler was beached and has remained in the intertidal zone on Hunstanton beach ever since. The purpose of the tours is to provide opportunity for tourists to see some of the area’s truly beautiful coastline from the white chalk cliffs to the impressive sand banks.
Blakeney Point is a short drive from the Harpers and is the ideal choice if you are staying anywhere near to Langham and Holt. The Point itself is a piece of land which juts out into the ocean just to the north of Blakeney and it is well known from being home to a large colony of grey and common seals. With the colony numbering around 500 it is one of the largest colonies in the country. There are a number of boat tours which will take you from Morston Quay out to Blakeney Point and allow you to watch the seals in their natural habitat. You may even get the chance to see some pups as the grey seals pup between November and January and the common seals between June and July. As seals are naturally inquisitive creatures, they will often swim around the boats as well giving you a real up close glimpse of these wonderful marine mammals. All the boat trips last around an hour often with the option to stop off at Blakeney Point itself and explore the nature reserve which is located here.
Broads Tours from Wroxham
A 45 minute drive from any of the hotels in Holt, Norfolk and you will arrive at an area of outstanding beauty; the Norfolk Broads. It has long been agreed that one of the best ways to properly explore and appreciate the Broads is by boat and there are a number of different ways to do this including the tours which leave from Wroxham. Broads Tours is an award-winning company who offer a large selection of boats and cruises. It is possible to hire your own day cruiser and head out onto the Broads under your own steam to see what you can discover with full tuition provided before you set off, or alternatively there are plenty of guided river cruises to take advantage of. These cruises feature full commentary from the skipper along with drinks and light refreshments and toilet facilities as well. Opting for this type of river cruise is a great way to ensure you get the most out of exploring the Broads and get to fully appreciate the wildlife and scenery on your chartered route. There are also themed river cruises such as evening cruises, educational tours and seasonal events such as boats with Santa on board. Each cruise typically lasts between 1 and 2 hours.
For something a little different, you might enjoy a trip aboard the RA; a solar powered, catamaran style boat which takes up to 20 tourists at a time. Based in Whitlingham Country Park this boat slices through the water making barely a sound so is perfect if you want the opportunity to get up close to wildlife which might otherwise have been frightened off by louder craft. Run by the Broads Authority, the RA does occasionally change location so it is worth taking a look at where it is currently moored before making your plans.
The Norwich River Bus
Operated by City Tours, the Norwich River Bus is an interesting way to see parts of this historic city. It cruises along the River Waveney which wends through the heart of the city and connects Norwich to the Norfolk Broads. Seeing the city from the water gives you a unique perspective of some of the more impressive landmarks and it makes a great alternative to your traditional sightseeing tours.
The Southern Comfort
The Southern Comfort is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive sights on the Norfolk Broads. This double-decker Mississippi-style paddle steamer has been purposely built for use along the Broads with capacity for 100 passengers. It is a luxury river cruisers which runs regular trips between March and November from the village of Horning, along the River Bure and on to Ranworth Broad before making its return journey. Each cruise takes around 2 hours and is accompanied by expert commentary and the opportunity to purchase drinks and light refreshments from the fully licensed bar on board. Occasionally, on a Sunday afternoon the Southern Comfort will be joined by a live jazz band which is well worth looking out for.