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Spain in-depth: Adventure

Dolphin and Whale watching in Tenerife: the complete guide

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Whales and dolphins in Tenerife

One of the best attractions that can be enjoyed in Tenerife is whale and dolphin watching. There are daily excursions that last from 2 hours in which spotting these amazing mammals is almost guaranteed! Not known to many of the visitors to the island, Tenerife is one of the places in Europe where wales and dolphins can be watched all year through (no subject to migrations since there are large groups of resident populations between la Gomera and Tenerife). Tenerife is one of the best places to enjoy whale watching in Spain. 

In this guide, we provide information to select the best whale watching tour during your stay in Tenerife.  Whale and dolphin excursions are among the top 10 things to do in tenerife

Dolphin and whale watching in Tenerfie - Contents

Why are there so many whales and dolphins in Tenerife?


Biodiversity between the islands of Tenerife and La Gomera is extraordinary. Groups of dolphins (bottlenose dolphins) and pilot whales live in this area on a permanent basis and this explains why sightings are actually guaranteed by the different tour operators that run the whale watching excursions.


Larger whales can also be spotted during their migration times, which occupy from the end of October till early March. You should however not join a whale excursion in Tenerife with the idea you will enjoy Bryde whales or sperm whales. They are often in the area, but it is important to bear in mind that these animals, due to their size can stay long periods of time underwater. They are also shy by nature and do not “show-off” in the same way as dolphins or pilot whales do.
The above mentioned does not mean spotting large whales is not possible, but we would rather limit your expectations. In any case, pilot whales and dolphins are normally much more fun!
The seafloor between La Gomera and the western coast of Tenerife reaches 3,000 meters and it is home to many giant squids which, luckily for us in this case, are the favorite food for pilot whales. This depth is not the best news however for other things like electricity since the seafloor is so deep that it does not alow to interconnect the two islands (the other islands in the archipielago are connected amongst them to reduce risks and maximise efficiency)

View of La Gomera and Tenerife from the air

From where (which harbours) do whale watching tours start in Tenerife?

There are 3 ports from where dolphin and whale watching excursions depart. They are all in the southern part of Tenerife. They are Puerto Colon, very close to Playa de las Americas and Adeje; Puerto de las Galletas, this port is located east of Playa de las Americas; and the last one, which is probably our favorite location, in Los Gigantes.

Which whale watching tour is recommended in Tenerife?

There is no straightforward answer to this question since it basically depends on where you are located, how much time you would like to spend in the sea, how much money you would like to spend, and what sort of experience you would prefer.

Let´s start with the last of these points: the type of experience you prefer. There are 2 aspects that define the overall experience. The first one is the type of boat used for the whale spotting tour. The second aspect is related to the things covered during the tour (just whale watching or more things)

Tours run in different types of boats or vessels. This is very important in case any person in your group may feel seasick. In such cases, a larger boat would be recommended. Boats available range from speedboats (semi-rigid or zodiac style boats) to sailboats, catamarans, and larger boats. Let´s cover each of them to ensure

Speedboats. These boats are fast. This implies that tours can be shorter yet guarantee sightings. They are smaller boats, so fewer people per boat and you need to stay seated, which can be inconvenient, but at the same time, it means nobody will be in the middle when the dolphins appear! In case you can get seasick these boats may not be the best option for you. Since the boats are small the feeling of being near dolphins or whales gets increased, but being so close to the water may be a challenge for some children that may feel safer in larger boats. Overall: great fun.

Sailing boats. This option implies using boats that actually sail (though on some occasions engine is used due to lack of wind, etc.) These boats are normally beautiful, and on some occasions, they make use of themes like pirates to attract children. Tours take longer with these boats but it is an overall different experience. There are options to book sailing tours privately, either for a family, group of friends, or corporate events. This provides the ultimate luxury experience.

– Catamarans. Though these boats are meant to be sailing boats, when used for whale watching excursions the sails are not used. They are however fantastic boats. In the case of days with waves, they can be great fun too.

– Larger boats. They offer a more touristic version and meant to be for larger groups. They normally have indoor space which makes them more suitable for rainy days. The experience is less attractive but it can be more comfortable too.

Whale watching tours in Tenerife

Things to bear in mind when you book a whale watching tour in Tenerife (but elsewhere too)

– Responsible tourism. Watching whales and dolphins is fantastic. But these activities run in wildlife areas and skippers and vessels used need to guarantee a maximum level of security for both tourists and animals. This implies keeping a respectful distance from animals. Companies in Tenerife have to comply with certain rules in order to be able to provide tours.

– Is this a boat for me?

Do you enjoy glass bottom boats? Are you really into adventure and prefer speedboats? Do you want to feel the wind? The good news is that there are tours to suit everybody.

– Sea sickness. If you or any member in your group is prone to seasickness we would recommend visiting a chemist and ask for advice since there are options to reduce the risk of becoming sick. Opting for larger boats or vessels also helps.

Sunscreen. Make sure you bring it, simple.
Sunglassess: Do not forget to bring them either!
Hats or caps. Once on the sea, it will get windy so make sure you wear hats or caps that stay firm on your head.
Wind jacket. Highly advisable especially on rainy or windy days. If you finally do not need it you can always keep it in a backpack
Water. Some tours offer drinks but bringing your own water is always wise