Etive is a sea loch which stretches for over 19 miles from the open sea at Connel, inland into wild highland scenery. It is fjord-like in its upper stretches, thanks to the scouring action of glaciers, and has depths of up to 145 metres. It is unusual in that there are shallow sills running across the loch at Connel (forming the Falls of Lora) and at the narrows at Bonawe which slow down the flow of the tides into and out of the loch. The loch is also brackish due to the large amount of fresh water that flows into it from the rivers Etive and Awe. The salinity gets higher as you approach the mouth of the loch, and in the deeper troughs.
In the past both sides of the northern end of the loch were home to farms, settlements and families and the majority of transport was via the loch, rather than the heavily wooded shores. Nowadays most of the boats on the loch are there for pleasure, and few venture to the furthest northern reaches of the loch.
Loch Etive is well known for its fishing, both from the shore and boats.