Whale Watching in Tenerife: Where, When and the Best Tours

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Alejandra Rangel
@alejandrarangel
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

One of the best things to do at Tenerife is to participate in a boat trip from Costa Adeje in search of whales and dolphins: its sea in fact has the optimal conditions for the life of a great marine diversity. Here you can find up to 21 different species of cetaceans, fish and sea creatures that you won't find anywhere else.

Therefore, do a whale watching tour is one of best things to do in Tenerife: Here you can see pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins all year round.



Trust me, the experience of observing these wild animals in their natural habitat is incredible.

99% CHANCE TO SEE WHALES!

Between the islands of Tenerife and La Gomera, the seabed can reach 2.000m deep, which allows bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales to hunt large quantities of fish and their favorite dish: giant squid. Therefore, these two species can be seen all year round.

The chances of seeing these animals on a whale watching tour in Tenerife are very high, it is truly an opportunity not to be missed.

BOOK the TOUR

To help you know more about the whale watching a Tenerife, in this guide I will try to advise you which tour to choose (and how), I will tell you about the right period and I will try to give you all the tips to increase your chances of meeting these giants of the sea along your way.

  • Where to see whales in Tenerife
    • 1 - Puerto Colon
    • 2 - Playa Las Americas
    • 3 - The Giants
    • 4 - The Cookies
  • Best time for whale watching
  • What animals can you see in Tenerife on a whale watching tour?
    • 1 – Orche
    • 2 - Sperm whales
    • 3 - Blue whales
  • How to choose a whale watching tour
  • The best whale watching excursions in Tenerife
    • 1 - Catamaran ride with sighting and listening to cetaceans (3 or 5 hours)
    • 2 - Classic whale watching excursion
    • 3 - Whale watching tour on a sailing boat
    • 4 - Dolphin and whale watching in Tenerife on a luxury yacht (3 hours)
    • 5 - Tour to Los Gigantes and Masca
    • 6 - Whale watching tour from Los Gigantes
  • Dolphin watching tour
  • Useful Tips

Where to see whales in Tenerife

Although Tenerife is the best island in the Canary Islands for whale watching, you will notice that tours usually depart from a few ports, most notably Puerto Colon in Costa Adeje and the port of Los Gigantes.



Below is a map of where to see whales in Tenerife. You can see this map Also here.

1 - Puerto Colon

Costa Adeje is one of the most touristic areas as well one of the best to stay in Tenerife: Here you will find numerous hotels, restaurants and lovely beaches such as the famous Playa de las Américas.

But not only that: Costa Adeje overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and it is from Puerto Colón that you will find the largest offer of whale watching tours and boat trips. When booking for a tour, agencies generally also include hotel pickup if you are staying in these parts.

If you are planning to stay in Costa Adeje, these tours offer the best whale watching in the south of Tenerife:

  • ☞ Click to view whale watching eco cruise (3 or 5 hours)
  • ☞ Click to view Catamaran Whale Watching & Listening Tour (Best Selling - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
  • ☞ Click to view  Economic Whale Watching Tour (2 hours): the most classic and least expensive tour, but still of quality.

2 - Playa De Las Americas

Stretta tra Costa Adeje and Los Cristianos, Las Americas Beach it's another great place to choose where to go in Tenerife for whale watching.

Although no tour departs from Playa de Las Americas beach, you can get there quickly Los Cristianos Port walk where many of the great tourist boats await you, including the Viking Ragnarok and Travelin Lady tours.


The area is best known for its nightlife, but you're a 30-minute walk from Puerto Colon, where many of the gods depart from Costa Adeje whale watching tour.


3 - The Giants

Los Gigantes it is located north of Costa Adeje and is renowned for its gigantic cliffs, which give the town its name. There are fewer boat tour options from here, but you'll get to see the whales and reefs from a better angle.

Companies departing from Los Gigantes offer boat trips to see Los Gigantes cliffs, whales and dolphins.

No doubt, Los Gigantes is the best place for whale watching in Tenerife. Not only will you have more chances to see cetaceans, but you will be surrounded by magical sea cliffs.

☞ Click to view  Whale watching from Los Gigantes (3 hours)

☞ Click to view Sighting in Los Gigantes and Masca from Tenerife South (5 hours)

4 - The Cookies

I whale watching tour in Las Galletas depart from the southernmost point of Tenerife, Puerto de Las Galletas, and take you along the rocky and picturesque coast before going further afield to see whales.

This destination is much less touristy than Costa Adeje so whale watching tends to be a little quieter, but not suitable for seasick people. Here, in fact, the waves are higher and the sea more rough.

Best time for whale watching

When is the best time to see whales in Tenerife?


Thanks to its privileged location, you can see cetaceans in Tenerife at any time of the year. Species like common dolphins and pilot whales are always easy to spot no matter when you go.


That said, if you want to see a wider variety of whales and sea creatures, it's best to go in the winter (between November and February) or spring. This is the time when there are more migratory whales and dolphins in the area, so you'll have the best chance of seeing blue whales, minke whales, and other species.

Hence, thewinter and spring are the best seasons to see whales, but you can take a whale watching tour in Tenerife all year round.

Keep in mind one thing: some whale species are migratory (humpback whales, for example), while others are resident and present for 12 months of the year. This means that, depending on when you go, you will be able to see some and others not.

January is an excellent month for whale watching in Tenerife, as it is the culmination of the migratory season. This is often the best time to see humpback whales. Blue and fin whales may occasionally be spotted, while pilot whales and dolphins are common.

A February, winter whale migration begins to decline in Tenerife, meaning this is often the last chance to spot humpback whales, fin whales and blue whales in migration. Pilot whales are often spotted and you can expect good opportunities to see bottlenose dolphins.

A March some first courses can be seen sperm whales along with pilot whales and dolphins, you may also be lucky enough to see late fin whales passing the coast during their migration.

April is often the best month to spot the sperm whales. Pilot whales remain common sightings, such as dolphins.

May is the highlight month for spotting pilot whales. May is usually the last month that sperm whales are present around Tenerife. Also, the temperatures this month make boat trips one of the most enjoyable of the year.

A June you can expect to see pilot whales and dolphins on a regular basis. While these are quite rare sightings, you may be lucky enough to spot the orche marine.

July is the best month to see pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins.

August it is one of the busiest months of the year so you will find many tourists and animals tend to be seen less when there is too much confusion as they are disturbed .. Nevertheless, you can expect a good chance of seeing pilot whales e dolphins, with the orcas which sometimes appear for lucky visitors.

A September, le balene pilota ei delfini they are usually the only species seen.

October it's another quiet month in terms of whale sightings. Despite this, i globicephaly residents in Tenerife can still be seen as well as bottlenose dolphins.

During the month of November, the whale migration starts again and there will be some chances of seeing the first ones humpback whale or fin whales. During this month they are regularly sighted globicephaly e dolphins.

December it is a good month for whale watching in Tenerife with the opportunity to see humpback whales and fin whales that pass along the coast. If you're lucky, you might even see migrating blue whales, and the globicephaly.

What animals can you see in Tenerife on a whale watching tour?

In addition to pilot whales and sperm whales that live in the waters around the Canaries, there are another 15 different species that cross the waters at different times of the year during the long journey that will take them to the other side of the world.

The chances of spotting these amazing creatures are relatively slim. But if you are lucky, you will have a simply incredible experience.

Among the "special" sightings there are:

1 – Orche

Although they are technically classified as toothed whales, the orcas they are the largest member of the oceanic dolphin family.

Their nickname "killer whale" derives from the behavior of predators towards other forms of marine life in the wild.

The best time to spot killer whales in Tenerife is during the summer months (June, July and August) when they pass during the migration and follow the bluefin tuna as it returns to the Mediterranean Sea.

2 - Sperm whales

Il sperm whale it is the largest toothed predator in the world and there are around 240 of them living permanently in the waters around the Canary Islands. In addition to being the largest, they are also among the deepest whales known to dive up to 2km underwater.

Tenerife sperm whales live in groups of 6-9 adult females plus their young. Male sperm whales are solitary animals and migrate alone to feed.

Although there are sperm whales in Tenerife all year round, the best time to spot them is during the spring months (March, April and May) when even more of them migrate to the Canaries to mate.

3 - Blue whales

The largest animal that has ever lived on Earth, the blue whale it lived in almost all the oceans of the world, until the beginning of the XNUMXth century, when it was hunted on a large scale. Although this has considerably reduced their numbers and their reproductive capabilities, in Tenerife it is still possible to spot them occasionally.

Blue whales have long, slender bodies that are mostly blue-gray in color, with a lighter tint underneath. They can grow up to 30 meters in length and weigh up to 173 tons.

Blue whales prefer to live in pairs or alone rather than in large groups.

The best time to see blue whales in Tenerife is during the winter months (December, January and February) when they head for warmer waters.

How to choose a whale watching tour

Whale and dolphin watching tours are very popular in Tenerife and many boats offer this excursion. It is important to know that this activity is highly regulated by the local government and that boat captains must have followed a specific course to be able to conduct a tour.

There are in fact rules on how many boats can stay around the animals, how long they can stay nearby and how they should approach the herd.

In fact, especially when there are many boats, with engines they can be really annoying for animals, it is therefore right that tour agencies follow the rules.

To help you choose your tour, Tenerife Tourism has created the "Blue Flag of Boats" (Barco Azul) with specific legislation for the protection of fauna and with the behaviors that agencies must respect such as the minimum distance to keep, the maximum time they can stay close to animals, etc.

When choosing a tour you can choose the length of the tour (most of it is 2 to 5 hours), the type of boat to do it with, if you want a tour that also includes snorkeling, or that also offers snacks and drinks on board.

For the different types of boats, you will be spoiled for choice: you can choose to get on small sailboats or large catamarans with sunbeds and bow nets on which to relax and sunbathe.

Sailboats: are my favorites because offer more tranquility and comfort. With a sailboat you can not only fully enjoy the sightings, but also the journey at sea. But not only that: they are more luxury boats than the catamaran, but the price is not much more expensive, so they provide perfect value for money.

I large catamarans they are the cheapest tour boats and are perfect for groups of travelers - some can accommodate up to 300!

However, as this is a cheaper experience, sometimes the food is not as good as on smaller boats and you may find a lot of confusion with many people.

A positive side is that they are very fast and also very stable: if you suffer from seasickness, on the catamaran you will suffer less.

RIB (rigid inflatable boats / fast dinghies) are a good way to see whales and dolphins in the blink of an eye, they are in fact very fast. Generally being smaller and more manageable, they also allow you to get closer (but always at a safe distance for the animals). The downside is that they are more expensive and that often you cannot move but must remain seated.

The best whale watching excursions in Tenerife

The best place to take a boat trip in Tenerife is Puerto Colon in Costa Adeje. It is an easily accessible port from Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas, close to the beautiful Playa La Pinta and Playa Torviscas.

You can take a bus to Puerto Colon or book with a boat company that offers hotel pickup.

1 - Catamaran ride with sighting and listening to cetaceans (3 or 5 hours)

Of all the whale watching excursions around Tenerife, as well as other cetaceans, this is one of the most popular and you can choose between a 3-hour or a 5-hour tour.

The tour starts in Puerto Colón, Costa Adeje, and goes inside the Teno-Rasca protected natural area, where cetaceans live all year round. Cetaceans are often spotted here throughout the year, so you can enjoy this impressive activity no matter when you decide to go to Tenerife.

During the tour you will be able to spot dolphins and whales, but not only: you will also have the opportunity to listen to them. It will be an unforgettable experience!

  • Start point: Pier 8 of Marina Puerto Colón (Costa Adeje)
  • Duration: 3 hours / 5 hours
  • Free cancellation free of charge up to 24 hours before the activity
  • Description: the excursion will take place within the Teno-Rasca protected natural area, a whale sanctuary where cetaceans live all year round thanks to the optimal water temperature, water depth and food resources. Take advantage of the underwater audio equipment to listen to the whales!

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2 - Classic whale watching excursion

If you are looking for something cheaper, this tour offers the best whale watching in Tenerife on a budget.

You will travel up to 3 miles off the coast by boat to reach areas with a high concentration of pilot whales, which can be spotted throughout the year. You will also pass through areas where dolphins usually go in search of food.

The experienced crew will share interesting information about the marine animals that inhabit the area, so in addition to seeing whales, you'll learn everything there is to know about them.

Although it is one of the cheapest tours in Tenerife, it is complete and, like the others, you can repeat it for free if you don't see cetaceans.

  • Start point: Puerto Colón, Costa Adeje
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Description: This tour is ideal for seeing dolphins and whales in Tenerife and learning all about these animal species.

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3 - Whale watching tour on a sailing boat

This tour part from Porto Colon (Pier 8): you will sail on a beautiful and exclusive sailing ship, with capacity for up to 11 people.

The navigation will continue along the southwestern coast of Tenerife, and you will have the opportunity - if the weather conditions are favorable - to sighting cetaceans. For the marine currents of the Canary archipelago, in its Atlantic waters it is possible to observe species such as bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales. The latter are characterized by their large size, surpassed only by those of the killer whales.

On the way there will be a stop: you can dive into the Atlantic, do snorkeling in crystal clear waters, or stay on the boat relaxing and sunbathing.
There will be on board sandwiches and snack, which you can enjoy with a beer, soft drink or mineral water.

  • Recommended: sailing trip along the southwestern coast of Tenerife to spot cetaceans, bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales.

    On the way a stop is included to dive into the Atlantic and make a stop snorkeling in crystal clear waters.

  • Start point: Puerto Colón, Costa Adeje
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Description: This sailing tour covers the area inhabited mainly by dolphins and pilot whales.

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4 - Dolphin and whale watching in Tenerife on a yacht (3 hours or 4 hours)

If you are looking for something more luxurious, you can do this yacht tour to see dolphins in Tenerife, as well as whales and other marine animals.

The yacht can accommodate a maximum of 11 people and travels along the coast in search of dolphins and pilot whales.

The navigation will take place along the west coast of Tenerife. The sea currents, the wind and the meteorological conditions characteristic of this area of ​​the Atlantic favor the presence in these waters of some species of cetaceans, such as tursiopi or grampi, also known as dolphins of Risso.

  • Recommended: Luxury yacht ride with drinks and snacks to see dolphins, pilot whales and sea turtles
  • Start point: Porto at Playa San Juan
  • Duration: 3 hours or 4 hours
  • Description: in addition to the sighting of cetaceans, a stop will also be made in Freshwater Cove, a cove where there will be some free time to do snorkeling: a perfect opportunity to keep getting to know the marine fauna of Tenerife!

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5 - Tour to Los Gigantes and Masca

If you are looking for the best whale watching in Tenerife, themost complete option is this tour. It takes you from the south of Tenerife to the Los Gigantes and Masca area, where you are most likely to see cetaceans.

This tour runs through the sanctuary of Teno-Rasca, which is part of the first whale heritage site in Europe (the third such site in the world). This qualification is awarded by the World Cetacean Alliance, whose main objective is to protect these marine animals.

In addition to enjoying whale watching in Tenerife, as well as dolphins and other marine animals, the boat used on this tour has sonar technology that allows you to hear the marine animals from the deck. The tour includes sandwiches and drinks, and before the tour ends, you will have time to swim and snorkel in the Atlantic.

Travelers choosing the 5-hour option will have extra time to see Los Gigantes, Masca Beach and other sights. In this case the Valencian paella is also included.

  • Recommended: Whale and Dolphin Watching in Teno-Rasca Sanctuary, Snorkeling and Visit Los Gigantes and Masca Beach Bay
  • Start point: Puerto Colón, Costa Adeje
  • Duration: 3-5 hours
  • Description: Enjoy dolphin and whale watching in Tenerife, especially in the sanctuary of Teno-Rasca. Take advantage of the underwater audio equipment to listen to the whales and enjoy sandwiches and drinks. During the tour, there will be time for swimming and snorkeling. The 5-hour tour includes a visit to Los Gigantes and Masca beach, as well as a Valencian paella.

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6 - Whale watching tour from Los Gigantes

If you are looking for a whale watching tour in Tenerife starting from Puerto de Los Gigantes, this is your best option.

The small-group tour takes place on a sailboat and is ideal for seeing dolphins and pilot whales, as well as the towering Los Gigantes cliffs from the sea. The best thing about this tour is that if the wind speed is optimal, your guide can set the sails and make the ride more beautiful. Before returning to the coast, you will have time to swim or snorkel. The tour also includes drinks and fruit.

  • Recommended: sailing tour to see whales and dolphins, as well as swimming and snorkeling in the sea
  • Start point: Port of Lo Gigantes
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Description: Dolphin and whale watching in Tenerife from a sailboat with time to swim or snorkel in the Atlantic waters. The tour includes drinks and fruit on board.

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Dolphin watching tour

If you want to see dolphins in Tenerife, you are in luck as bottlenose dolphins can be seen here all year round.

Dolphins live fairly close to the coast and sightings are practically guaranteed all year round.

Here you might see some species like the Atlantic spotted dolphin, whose body is covered with specks, or the rough-toothed dolphin, which has an elongated skull and grooved teeth, and the striped dolphin, which is more bluish. You will also likely see the common dolphin, which has a yellow coloring on the sides.

These species are less common and more seasonal, so depending on the time of year you tour, you may see one or more.

WARNING!

Swimming with dolphins is FORBIDDEN in Tenerife.

If you happen to find “someone” offering this type of activity, which is illegal in Spain, you can report it to the authorities or to one of the whale protection organizations (AWdF or Frontier).

If you want to get close to the dolphins, I invite you to do a kayak excursion like this.

Useful Tips

Whale watching is a wonderful activity, which I recommend to everyone, especially families with children, who see animals in the wild they can learn a lot about them and their behaviors, as well as respecting animals.

I have some advice for you, to make this experience even better.

Book your whale watching tour in advance. There are many companies that offer boat trips on the island. Online it's easier to read reviews, compare prices and find the right whale watching tour for your needs.

The captains, crew and onboard naturalists are your best sources of knowledge and the crew will be more than happy to answer all your questions and give you their whale watching advice. Don't be shy, ask!

Although the climate is generally warm all year round, cloudy and colder days can happen in winter, therefore make sure you bring something to cover yourself such as a windproof and rainproof jacket.

Don't forget to bring the sunscreen (in any season) e sunglasses. The sun is stronger at sea and the reflection can be really annoying.

Get your camera ready, if you also have a zoom lens. But every now and then "switch off" and enjoy what you see!

If you get seasick easily, i would recommend booking a bigger boat. You will feel the waves much less.

It doesn't matter which tour you book, morning or afternoon. The chances of spotting whales and dolphins are roughly the same. Morning tours are generally shorter but cheaper.

be patient! Nature does what it wants and it is wild animals.

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