In the 18th Century Johnshaven was one of the largest fishing communities in Scotland. There were 26 boats and at least 130 fishermen in 1722.
The largest boats with a crew of 10 were used only for three months in the summer for distant cod fishing, the smaller boats with a crew of eight the rest of the year, there being 13 boats of each type. The most southerly of Aberdeenshire's seven harbours, Johnshaven has two basins separated by a central jetty. Extending to 5800 square metres with 330 metres of quay-side, the harbour offers quayside fresh water and there is a slipway available. Around 20 boats have regular moorings there and some are involved in commercial shell fishing.
Johnshaven, which retains many predominantly fishing characteristics, also offers pleasant coastal walking as well as an attractive public park.
Today, lobsters and crabs are the main catch. Lobster fishing is carried out locally and live lobsters can be seen – but not touched – stored in water tanks near the harbour before shipment to the Continent.
The more sheltered inner basin offers three to six metres of water at high tide but the harbour dries out at low tide and it is advisable to check access with the Harbourmaster. The very narrow entrance through a rocky foreshore can be difficult in winds from between North-east and South-east.