Whale Watching in Tenerife

Sustainable Whale & Dolphin Watching in Tenerife Reviewed!

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Welcome to Tenerife!


Whale Watching in Tenerife is one of the most popular tourist activities on the Canary Islands, as it is located in the Atlantic Ocean and is home to a variety of whale and dolphin species. To spot them you can use one of the local whale watching operators or try your luck from the shorelines.

There are several companies that offer whale watching tours in Tenerife, which typically depart from Los Cristianos, Costa Adeje Los Gigantes, or Las Galletas. These tours normally last for several hours and include a tour guide who will provide information about the whales and dolphins you will encounter during your trip. Many of the tours also offer additional amenities such as snacks, drinks, and underwater cameras to capture photos of the whales and dolphins.

A quick overview:

Whale Watching Tenerife

But how do you select the best tour? When is a tour eco-friendly and sustainable for the whales and dolphins? After all, as a sustainable whale watcher you want to make sure you make the right decision when selecting the boat and captain for your whale tour.

Here at Whale Watching Tenerife we give answers to these questions and show you why it is so important to keep in mind that whale watching is a form of wildlife viewing and that the whales and dolphins should be respected and treated with care. Also we make sure that the tour operators that we review are following the best practices for whale watching, such as maintaining a safe distance from the animals and not disturbing their natural behaviors. Just keep reading to learn more.

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When can you see whales & dolphins in Tenerife?

The best season for whale watching in Tenerife depends on the species of whale or dolphin you are interested in seeing. In general, the warmer months of the year, from May to October, are the best periods to go whale watching, as the water temperatures are higher and the whales and dolphins are more active.

Pilot whales can be seen in Tenerife year-round, but they are most commonly spotted in the summer months from June to September. Sperm whales can also be seen throughout the year, but they are more commonly spotted from May to October. Killer whales, also known as orcas, are less common and are typically spotted from June to September.

Bottlenose dolphins and Atlantic spotted dolphins can be seen year-round, but they are most active in the warmer months from May to October.

It is worth noting that whale watching is weather dependent, and the chances of spotting whales and dolphins may be higher on days with calm seas and good visibility. It is also worth considering the time of day when planning your whale watching tour, as some species may be more active in the morning or evening.

Note: The gigantic blue whales can also be seen from December to February during their migratory season. But this happens rarely.

Can you swim with wild whale & dolphins in Tenerife?

No, you are allowed to swim with wild whales and dolphins in Tenerife directly, but most of the whale tour packages mentioned in this article include a swimming/snorkeling break. The reason why it is not allowed to swim with wild whales and dolphin directly is because the presences of tourists in the water can create a stressful and even dangerous situation for the animals. There is even a penalty for swimmers that try to harass marine animals in the coastal waters of the island.

It is important to mention that all whale watching tour operators should put the welfare of the animals as their top priority.

What types of whales & dolphins can you spot in Tenerife?

Some of the dolphin and whale species that can be found in Tenerife include:

  • Pilot whales: Pilot whales are a type of large dolphin that are found in the waters around Tenerife year-round. They are easily recognized by their distinctive black and white coloration and their long, slender bodies. Pilot whales are social animals and are often seen in large groups, or pods.
  • Bottlenose dolphins: Bottlenose dolphins are one of the most common and well-known species of dolphin. They are found in the waters around the island throughout the year and are easily recognized by their distinctive gray coloration and curved mouth, which gives them a smiling appearance.
  • Atlantic spotted dolphins: Atlantic spotted dolphins are a small, slender species of dolphin. They are easily recognized by the distinctive spotted pattern on their skin, which becomes more pronounced as the dolphins age.
  • Humpback whales: Humpback whales are a type of baleen whale that are not as commonly seen as some of the other cetacean species. Humpback whales are known for their distinctive long pectoral fins and the intricate patterns on the underside of their flukes (tails).
  • Sperm whales: Sperm whales are a type of toothed whale and are easily recognized by their large, square-shaped heads and their distinctive, conical-shaped teeth.
  • Fin whales: Fin whales are the second largest species of whale, after the blue whale, and can be recognized by their long, slender bodies and their tall, triangular dorsal fins. They are not as often spotted as other whale and dolphin species.

Other species of cetaceans that may be found in the waters around Tenerife include beaked whales, killer whales, and false killer whales. However, these species are not as commonly seen

Where can you see whales & dolphins in Tenerife?

Costa Adeje, Los Cristianos, Las Galletas and Los Gigantes are the main harbors that host several whale/dolphin watching tours in Tenerife. From here the tour operators set sail towards the Teno-Rasca Marine Strip (more information in the next chapter). Other hotspots in the Canary Islands to spot whales and dolphins are neighbor islands Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura.

Teno-Rasca Marine Strip Special Conservation Zone (ZEC)

The Teno-Rasca Marine Strip is a Special Conservation Zone (ZEC) located in the northwest region of Tenerife It is a protected area that is home to a number of important marine species, including a wide variety of whales, dolphins, and sea turtles.

The Teno-Rasca Marine Strip is designated as a ZEC in order to protect and conserve the unique marine ecosystem and the species that inhabit it. Wat are ZEC’s, you ask? ZEC’s are protected areas that are established in order to conserve the local natural habitat and biodiversity of a region. They may include marine, terrestrial, or freshwater habitats and are often established in areas that are important for the conservation of threatened or endangered species.

The ZEC status of the Teno-Rasca Marine Strip means that certain activities, such as fishing and development, are restricted within the area in order to protect the marine ecosystem and the species that depend on it. It is important to respect the protected status of this area and to avoid disturbing or interacting with the marine life within it.

Best Sustainable Whale Watching Tours in Tenerife

Whale Watching Costa Adeje

Dolphin and Whale Eco-Cruise with Food & Drinks

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This eco-friendly whale trip starts with the crew announcing safety instructions. Then the fuel-efficient catamaran sails towards the best whale/dolphin watching spots around the island. The live commentary will keep you on track in English, Spanish, or German, while the underwater sound equipment ensures an immersive experience.

The eco-boat pauses by the Teno-Rasca Whale Sanctuary, the official conservation zone for Tenerife’s marine life, followed by the gorgeous beaches, Playa de las Américas and Playa de Los Cristianos. And if it is your lucky (and a clear) day, you might even spot the famous Mount Teide!

Moreover, you can take a refreshing dip in the Atlantic waters before heading to the shore. Note that the 5-hour extended tour includes a visit to Los Gigantes and Masca Bay, and a wholesome serving of Spanish delicacy, Paella Valenciana, with wine. 

Interested to learn more? Click here to check availability and prices!

Highlights

  • 3-5 hours duration
  • Instant confirmation, free cancellation, and rescheduling if no whales or dolphins are spotted
  • Whale/dolphin watching in a conservation area
  • Expert commentary and underwater sound equipment
  • Swimming/snorkeling allowed
  • Refreshments included
  • 5-hour tour option includes more tourist attractions and delicacies

What should you bring?

  • Comfortable shoes
  • Jacket 
  • Sun protection (SPF lotions, sunglasses, etc.)
  • Swimwear and towel
  • Snorkeling gear
  • Camera
  • Medicines, if any

A Private Luxury Whale Watching Tour

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Experience the breathtaking beauty of the Canary Islands on a private yacht cruise through the crystal-clear waters of Southern Tenerife. With plenty of space on board, you’ll have uninterrupted views of the region’s stunning coastlines and diverse wildlife.

As you sail through the waters, keep an eye out for playful dolphins and pilot whales that are often spotted in this area. You’ll also have the chance to observe the rich birdlife above. With state-of-the-art sonar equipment, you’ll be able to listen to the whales, dolphins, and other marine life that call these waters home.

After navigating the open waters, you’ll have the opportunity to anchor in a secluded bay, where you can swim with turtles or simply relax and enjoy a snack and drink. Throughout the tour, your guide will provide insights into the region’s history and culture, and you’ll have the chance to ask any questions you may have. It’s no wonder the area around the Canary Islands has been nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Interested to learn more? Click here to check availability and prices!

Highlights

  • 4 hour duration.
  • Maximum capacity of 12 passengers.
  • Sun deck, a shaded area, and a bathroom on board.
  • Tour guide included who will provide information about the whales and dolphins you may see.
  • Snacks and drinks are included.
  • Stops at a beach, where you can swim and snorkel.
  • Departures at 9:30am and 2:30pm (year round).
  • Suitable for all ages.

Whale Watching Los Cristianos

No-Chase Whale and Dolphin Cruise

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Experience an ethical and eco-friendly whale and dolphin watching tour from Los Cristianos, with the only cruise company on the Canary Island that partners with non profit organisations Sea Shepherd UK and the Dolphin Project.

The boat departs from the Los Cristianos harbor on a boat that is able to travel beyond a 3-mile radius due to the qualified captains on board, allowing for a greater chance of seeing larger whales and other species such as short-finned pilot whales, bottlenose dolphins, fin whales, sperm whales, blue whales, and even orcas. Along the way, keep an eye out for other marine life like migrating turtles, tuna, and sharks. Your tour guide will provide information on the ecosystems and habits of the resident dolphins in front of the Los Cristianos cliffs, as well as the stunning views of Mount Teide and the southern coast of Tenerife.

Interested to learn more? Click here to check availability and prices!

Highlights

  • Enjoy an eco-friendly whale watching experience with a no-chase policy
  • Look for migrating larger whales and groups of dolphins
  • Contribute to a conservation charity with your tour purchase
  • Take a ride on one of the few boats with proper licenses for legal whale watching
  • Get informed about the local ecosystems by a knowledgeable on-board guide

Whale Watching Los Gigantes

Whale Watching Cruise by Sail Boat

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Experience the beauty of sailing on a boat from the port in Los Gigantes as you search for whales and other marine life in their natural habitat. This small group cruise will take you out to sea to look for dolphins and pilot whales. If the conditions allow, you may even have the opportunity to help raise the sail and travel across the waves powered by the wind.

Refreshments, including drinks and fresh fruit, will be served on board, and you can take a swim or go snorkeling in a picturesque cove. Enjoy a sandwich upon your return to the boat before leisurely sailing back to port, taking in the stunning views of the cliffs along the way.

Interested to learn more? Click here to check availability and prices!

Highlights

  • 3-hour duration
  • Admire the cliffs of Los Gigantes from the ocean.
  • Take a break to swim and snorkel at a secluded cove on the coast of Tenerife.
  • Enjoy hotel pickup and drop-off from select locations.
  • Enjoy refreshments, including fresh fruit, homemade sandwiches (with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options), and drinks. such as cava, white and red wine, beer and soft drinks.
  • Snorkeling equipment included.

What are the rules and regulations for sustainable whale watching in Tenerife?

It is important the check if your captain follows certain rules and regulations to ensure the protection of the whales and dolphins that you will encounter during your trip. Here are some key points to look out for:

  • Authorized boats for whale and dolphin watching are distinguished by a yellow flag with the “Blue Boat” logo.
  • It is important to maintain a distance of at least 60 meters from the animals and to observe them for no more than 30 minutes.
  • Boats should navigate at a reduced speed and avoid congregating in large numbers.
  • It is prohibited to touch, feed, or swim with the animals, as well as to throw waste into the water or make loud noises that could disturb them.
  • In the event of an injured animal or stranding, it is important to call the emergency number (112) and follow the appropriate rescue protocol.
  • Companies offering whale and dolphin watching tours should have a Quality Charter that outlines their commitment to respecting the animals and minimizing the impact of their activities on the marine environment.

More information can be found here.

Other Great Wildlife & Nature Tours in Tenerife

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Scuba Dive For Beginners in Turtle Area

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The Tenerife 3-Hour Try Diving for Beginners Experience is a tour designed for people who have never dived before and want to try it out. The tour takes place in the clear waters of Tenerife, where you’ll have the opportunity to learn the basic skills of scuba diving under the supervision of a certified instructor.

The tour includes a briefing on the equipment and safety procedures, followed by a pool session where you’ll learn how to use the scuba gear and practice some basic diving skills. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll head out to the open water for a guided dive, where you’ll have the chance to see the colorful marine life and coral reefs up close.

The tour lasts for 3 hours and is suitable for participants aged 10 and older. It is important to note that all participants must be able to swim and be in good physical condition. It is also important to choose a reputable and responsible tour operator that follows best practices for scuba diving and ensures the safety of all participants.

Teide National Park Stargazing

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The Tenerife Teide National Park Stargazing tour is an evening tour that takes place in the Teide National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the center of Tenerife. The tour is led by a certified astronomy guide who will provide information about the stars and planets visible in the night sky.

During the tour, you’ll have the opportunity to view the stars and planets through high-quality telescopes and learn about the constellations, celestial objects, and cosmic phenomena visible in the sky. You’ll also have the chance to learn about the history of the Teide National Park, a unique landscape formed by volcanic activity.

The tour lasts for 3 hours and includes transportation to and from the meeting point. It is suitable for participants of all ages and no prior knowledge of astronomy is required. It is important to choose a reputable and responsible tour operator that follows best practices for stargazing and ensures the safety of all participants.

Kayaking with Dolphins & Turtles

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The Tenerife 3-Hour Kayaking with Dolphins tour is a tour that combines kayaking and wildlife viewing in the waters of Tenerife. The tour takes place in the clear waters of Los Gigantes, where you’ll have the opportunity to see a variety of marine life, including dolphins, whales, and sea turtles.

During the tour, you’ll be guided by a certified instructor who will provide information about the marine life and the local environment. You’ll have the chance to paddle through the waters in a kayak and see the dolphins and other wildlife up close.

The tour lasts for 3 hours and includes all necessary equipment, such as a kayak, paddle, and life jacket. It is suitable for participants aged 8 and older, and no prior experience is required. It is important to choose a reputable and responsible tour operator that follows best practices for kayaking and ensures the safety of all participants.