Despite its name, the Black Isle is not an island but a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water - the Cromarty Firth to the north, the Beauly Firth to the south and the Moray Firth to the east.
On its fourth, western side, its boundary is delineated by rivers. The River Conon divides Maryburgh, a mile outside Dingwall, from Conon Bridge which is the first village on the Black Isle from the north-western side.
Its southwestern boundary is variously considered to be marked by either a minor tributary of the River Beauly separating Beauly (in Inverness-shire) and Muir of Ord (on the Black Isle in Ross and Cromarty), dividing the two counties and also delineating the start of the Black Isle; or alternatively, the River Beauly itself, thus including Beauly in the Black Isle despite its official placement in Inverness-shire.
Connected to the city of Inverness by the Kessock Bridge, the Black Isle itself has no major settlements, but instead holds a number of small towns and villages: Maryburgh, Conon Bridge, Culbokie, Cromarty, Rosemarkie, Fortrose, Avoch, Munlochy, North Kessock, Beauly and Muir of Ord being the largest.