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Whale and Dolphin Watching in Tenerife

Tenerife is one of the few places in the world where you can see whales and dolphins all year round. Here's how to enjoy this beautiful experience

Alex Grande

Alex Grande

9 min read

Whale and Dolphin Watching in Tenerife

Dolphins off the coast of Tenerife | ©Bertrand Borie

Did you know that the south coast of Tenerife is one of the best places in Europe to see marine life with your own eyes? There you can see wild dolphins and whales swimming in the sea, a unique and exciting experience in equal parts.

Having traveled to Tenerife on several occasions and having been lucky enough to have been able to enjoy this spectacular experience live, I have written this guide in which I tell you everything you need to know about whale and dolphin watching in Tenerife. Will you join me?

My favorite
Whales & Dolphins watching in exclusive sailboat

Small group sailing at unbeatable price

Perfect if you feel like enjoying a full day at sea with everything included: luxury boat with a maximum of 11 people on board, food and refreshments, whale watching and a stop for snorkeling

Duration: 3 hours
From $ 66 at Hellotickets

Spending the day on a sailboat at sea, dropping anchor next to the cliffs to enjoy lunch in the sea breeze and listening and watching whales and dolphins around you: a great plan that deserves an automatic inclusion in your trip to Tenerife. Sailing during 3 hours on a sailboat, you will enjoy the views of the south coast of Tenerife from the sea while you go searching for whales and dolphins.

You will continue sailing and reach one of the best places for snorkeling and scuba diving because of the amount of marine species that you can observe even from the surface of the water. The captain of the boat, an expert on the marine mammals that inhabit the area, will always be attentive to warn you of any sighting.

You will stop for lunch, and you will be able to taste the flavor of the Canary Islands while you relax on the deck of the sailboat.

Why I like this option: Among all the options for whale and dolphin watching in Tenerife, this option is the most complete. It has an extended duration, lunch included, snorkeling stop. All with a maximum of 11 people on board.

Recommended if... You are looking not only to enjoy whale watching, but also the relaxing experience of sailing in a sailboat in the Atlantic waters.

On a luxury boat
3-hour Whale and Dolphin Watching and Listening Tour

Enjoy sailing on a catamaran

Perfect to spend a day aboard an exclusive boat in a relatively small group, with everything included. In addition to whale watching, it includes a snorkeling stop.

Duration: 3 hours
From $ 46 at Hellotickets

Since you are going to enjoy a good time sailing in the Atlantic, the wide offer of boat trips in Tenerife allows you to choose a boat. In this case, you will spend the day aboard a luxury catamaran that will take you along the South Coast of Tenerife, in front of the spectacular cliffs of Los Gigantes.

In this case, you will also make a stop for snorkeling and drinks and lunch are also included, so you don't have to worry about anything but enjoying yourself to the fullest and keeping an eye out for passing dolphins and whales.

This group is a bit bigger than the previous one, as this boat is bigger than a sailboat and therefore more passengers fit on board (you will be about 30 at the most). This also gives the excursion a nice atmosphere, so if you don't mind doing it in an extra small group, this is a good option.

Why I like this option: For three hours you will have the opportunity to cruise the waters of the Atlantic on a luxury catamaran with food, drinks and snorkel stop included.

Recommended if... You feel like trying the sensation of sailing on a catamaran with 30 other passengers on board.

The most economical
Whale & Dolphin Watching Boat Tour from Los Cristianos

The best cruise for a tight budget

Although it is a large boat that can be quite crowded compared to other cruises, it is a great way to add a wonderful souvenir to your trip for a more affordable price.

Duration: 2 hours
From $ 34 at Hellotickets

In this option you will sail the waters of Tenerife while enjoying the beautiful views of the Teide, and go on the hunt for sightings of a variety of marine animals: sperm whales, fin whales, turtles, different species of dolphins, jellyfish and seabirds. An expert guide will accompany the group at all times to make sure that you miss absolutely nothing, and that you know how to correctly identify what you see.

You will go aboard a schooner, which allows you to maneuver the waters of the Canary Islands with precision to avoid sudden movements that may frighten the marine animals.

Why I like this option: Although it's a bit short compared to other similar options, and you'll be accompanied by a larger group, it's a great way to add a wonderful souvenir to your trip for a more affordable price.

Recommended if... You are looking for an experience that fits within a tight budget, but don't want to give up the uniqueness of seeing whales and dolphins from a boat.

Whale Watching Eco-Adventure from Costa Adeje

A real adventure with marine biologists on board

The most premium option offers you the exclusive guidance of a marine biologist and the advantage of having the smallest group of participants possible, 8 people on board the boat together with the captain

Duration: 2 hours
From $ 60 at Hellotickets

Get on a motorboat with a marine biologist to discover the marine life of Costa Adeje on a morning tour in which you will pay special attention to the sounds of whales and dolphins and have the opportunity to see them in their natural habitat.

On this tour you will travel along the coast of the town of Adeje, one of the main places on the island for the sighting of marine animals. You will go aboard a motorboat equipped with a hydrophone to listen to the sounds of whales and dolphins. By going by motorboat, you will be able to quickly approach the groups of cetaceans to see them up close without missing a single detail.

Meanwhile, your guide will show you the beauty of marine life with didactic information so that you understand in detail the immensity and importance of the island's ecosystems. Once you arrive at the natural habitat of the marine cetaceans, you will slowly approach to observe them up close. The guide will take photos of the animals which you can then receive for free so that you will always have a great souvenir of the experience.

Why I like this option: This is an exclusive full-fledged marine safari with the most intimate group of participants possible, 8 people on board. This experience is more educational, as it focuses on the sighting of marine mammals and the marine biologist that accompanies you will introduce you to the vast underwater world of the island.

Recommended if... You go in a small group, the boat will be practically private for you. If you are also interested in the conservation of the environment and marine fauna, this is your option.

In summary: we compare the four options

If you still have doubts about which option best suits your trip (and your pocket) I have done this exercise for you. I leave you here this comparative table with the prices and the most relevant data of each excursion.

Why Tenerife is unique for marine mammal watching

Dolphins surfing the waters of Tenerife ©Bertrand Borie
Dolphins surfing the waters of Tenerife ©Bertrand Borie

Thanks to the year-round mild climate of the Canary Islands, and the deep sea beds that offer cetaceans a respite from the strong Atlantic ocean currents, Tenerife attracts very many marine mammals, protected in a nature reserve.

Therefore, it is possible to see bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales (also called pilot whales) between the waters of La Gomera and Tenerife. With some luck, in the experiences I have been telling you about, you will be able to see other species such as Bryde's whales, beautiful specimens of elongated whales, blue whales, the largest animal on planet Earth, and several species of dolphins.

Why is it so easy to see whales and dolphins in these experiences? The reason is simple: during the night, these animals hunt for fish and squid, and during the day they rest on the surface, where it is easy to observe them up close, and more importantly, in the wild.

Best time of the year to see whales and dolphins in Tenerife

During the activity| ©Justin Ennis
During the activity| ©Justin Ennis

Although the great advantage of these experiences is that you are guaranteed sightings throughout the year, here is a small reference of how these vary according to the season:

  • In spring is when there is more activity and movement of cetaceans.
  • In summer is the breeding season, so you may be able to see whales and baby dolphins.
  • In fall the sightings are less regular, but it is the best time to sail and the sky has a very special light.
  • In winter the days are shorter and therefore it is possible to see the marine animals preparing to hunt, which offers shorter but more intense sightings.

Tips to get the most out of your whale and dolphin watching experience.

Waiting for the sighting | ©Justin Ennis
Waiting for the sighting | ©Justin Ennis

Book early to secure your spot.

Book your whale and dolphin watching experience as soon as possible. There are a number of options for enjoying one of these spectacular excursions, but it's also a tremendously popular activity with locals and travelers alike, so it's a good idea to secure your spot in advance.

To pack your suitcase...

Although the weather in the Canary Islands is spectacular all year round, remember to pack a windbreaker or raincoat in winter, as the sea breeze at sea can get freezing. At any time of the year you will need sun cream and probably sunglasses, so that the light does not tire your eyes quickly.

Avoid seasickness

If you tend to get seasick easily, keep in mind that the bigger the boat the less you notice the swell, so maybe the cheaper option is the perfect one for you (you'll be on a boat with a capacity for 130 people).

The best time of the day for the excursion

These experiences have departures at various times throughout the day. Regardless of what time you take the excursion, you will have the same chances of seeing marine animals. If you are taking a camera and want to take a good photo, you already know that the daylight will help the clarity of the photos.

Other interesting activities in Tenerife

El Teide | ©Maria Lupan
El Teide | ©Maria Lupan

If you are in Tenerife it would be a mortal sin not to climb El Teide. Spain's highest peak offers not only the best views of the island but landscapes that seem to be taken from another planet. Whatever your spirit (there are more adventurous options and other more relaxed ones), you can read in my guide about which one suits you best.

If you feel like making the most of your time on the island to visit nearby paradises, La Gomera and El Hierro are two smaller but equally fascinating islands. I will tell you everything you need to organize your visit to El Hierro and to La Gomera.

And finally, if you have been left wanting to live with the marine fauna of the islands even more, you can join a excursion in kayak near the sea turtles. Unforgettable!