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

8 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 spot wild dolphins and whales swimming in the sea, a unique and exciting experience in equal measure.

Having travelled to Tenerife on several occasions and having been lucky enough to have been able to enjoy this spectacular experience first hand, 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 favourite

Tenerife Whale and Dolphin Watching Tour

Small group sailing at unbeatable prices

Perfect if you feel like enjoying a full day at sea with everything included: luxury boat with up to 11 people on board, food and refreshments, whale watching and a snorkelling stop.

Duration: 3 hours

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

On this whale and dolphin watching sailing cruise you will reach some of the best places for snorkelling and scuba diving because of the number of marine species you can see even from the surface of the water. The captain of the boat, an expert in the marine mammals that inhabit the area, will always be attentive to warn you of any sightings.

You will stop for lunch, and you can enjoy a taste of the Canary Islands while you relax on the deck of the boat.

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, stop for snorkelling. 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 on a sailboat in the Atlantic waters.

By luxury boat

Tenerife Whale and Dolphin Watching Tour

Enjoy catamaran sailing

Perfect for a day on board an exclusive boat in a relatively small group, with everything included. In addition to whale watching, it includes a snorkelling stop.

Duration: 3 hours

Since you are going to enjoy a good time sailing on the Atlantic, the wide range 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 snorkelling 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 dolphins and whales.

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

Recommended if... You want to try the sensation of sailing on a catamaran with 30 other passengers on board.

The most economical

Tenerife Whale and Dolphin Watching Tour

The best cruise for a tight budget

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

Duration: 3 hours

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 manoeuvre the waters of the Canary Islands with precision to avoid sudden movements that could 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're looking for an experience that fits within a tight budget, but don't want to give up the special and unique experience of seeing whales and dolphins from a boat.


Tenerife Whale and Dolphin Watching Tour

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 possible group of participants, 8 people on board the boat together with the captain.

Duration: 3 hours

Join a marine biologist on a motorboat to discover the marine life of Costa Adeje on a morning trip where 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 village 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 get close to the groups of cetaceans and see them up close without missing a single detail.

Meanwhile, your guide will show you the beauty of the marine life with didactic information so that you can understand in detail the immensity and importance of the island's ecosystems. Once you reach the natural habitat of the marine cetaceans, you will slowly approach them to observe them up close. The guide will take photos of the animals, which you can then receive free of charge 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 marine mammal sightings and the marine biologist who accompanies you will introduce you to the vast underwater world of the island.

Recommended if... You are 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 short: 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 sightings

Dolphins in Tenerife waters| ©Bertrand Borie
Dolphins in Tenerife waters| ©Bertrand Borie

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

It is therefore possible to see bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales between the waters of La Gomera and Tenerife. With a bit of 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 on 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 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 they vary according to the season:

  • Spring is when there is most activity and movement of cetaceans.
  • Summer is the breeding season, so you may be able to see baby whales and dolphins.
  • In autumn the sightings are a little 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 so it is possible to see 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 in advance to secure your place

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 hugely popular activity with locals and travellers alike, so it's a good idea to secure a place in advance.

Pack your suitcase

Although the weather in the Canaries is spectacular all year round, remember to bring a windbreaker or mackintosh in winter, as the sea breeze at sea can get quite chilly. Whatever the time of year, you'll need sun cream and probably sunglasses, so that the light doesn't quickly tire your eyes.

Avoid seasickness

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

The best time of day for the excursion

These experiences depart at various times throughout the day. Regardless of the time of day, you'll have the same chance of seeing marine animals. If you're taking a camera and want to take a good photo, you'll know that daylight will help the clarity of the photos.

Other interesting activities in Tenerife

The Teide| ©Maria Lupan
The Teide| ©Maria Lupan

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

If you want to make the most of your time on the island to explore nearby paradises, La Gomera and El Hierro are two smaller but equally fascinating islands. I'll tell you all you need to know to help you organise your visit to El Hierro and La Gomera.

And last but not least, if you feel like getting to know the islands' marine fauna even better, you can join a kayak tour near the sea turtles- unforgettable!

Frequently asked questions

  • Is it easy to see dolphins or whales in Tenerife?

    The waters surrounding the island of Tenerife are a world reference for whale and dolphin watching, so yes, it is relatively easy to see them in their environment, especially at certain times of the year.

  • What is the best time of the year to see whales or dolphins in Tenerife?

    During the winter and spring, migrating whales and dolphins are very common in the waters south of Tenerife, specifically in the area between Tenerife and La Gomera.

  • Are whale watching expeditions respectful of their surroundings and the environment?

    Yes, all the companies that operate are local and comply with all the relevant regulations. There is also an option where you will be accompanied by marine biologists who will answer all your questions about these species.

  • Is it possible to do this whale and dolphin watching trip with children, and is it dangerous?

    Yes, it can be done with children and it is not dangerous at all. What's more, they will enjoy the sailing experience and learn a lot about marine life by watching these wonderful cetaceans.