Spain: Whale watching in Tenerife


The White Paradise catamaran at Puerto Colón, Tenerife / Photo:

There are few things as exciting as the sight of a back fin piercing the water’s surface right next to you. And the fact, that for a short moment you’re sharing a couple of square meters of the glimmering Atlantic Ocean with a large whale. Trust me, it beats any trip to the zoo or the aquarium, and it should be the way we experience animals – in their own habitat and on their own terms.

Throughout the last few years, I have had the chance to go on sea safaris in the oceans around Wales, Isle of Man and the Azores islands – spotting mainly seals and dolphins. And when I recently found myself in Tenerife in Spain, I was excited for the chance to set out on yet another adventure at sea. This time onboard a large and modern catamaran from White Tenerife, that ships out from the harbour of Puerto Colón on the southwestern coast of the island.

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Excited whale watchers and attentive crew / Photo:

This sunny afternoon, the boat was full of couples and families all excited about this 3-hour boat trip, but still, it was easy to find a nice spot on one of the catamaran’s “arms” from where I had a front-row view to the deep blue ocean.

Soon our vessel left the harbour behind shortly after we were easily cruising on the calm sea. There’s nothing like a light sea breeze in the hair while letting the eyes wander the on the infinite horizon. And the welcoming crew made sure that everyone was offered snacks and drinks for an enjoyable trip.

See also: Isle of Man: Go sea-exploring with Shona


Looking for whales near the coast of Tenerife / Photo:


Two pilot whales breaching the surface of the Atlantic Ocean / Photo:

Our goal was clear. To spot any of the whales that frequent the ocean around Tenerife, and the magnificent creatures below did not let us down this afternoon. After some cruising a bunch of short-finned pilot whales were flashing their black and rounded back fins above the surface, and a few of them came breathtakingly close to the boat. Simply amazing!


Large pilot whale popping up to sail “hello” / Photo:

I was doing my best to catch the best photos possible while still clinging to the railings of the boat. To top up the experience, the catamaran was equipped with underwater microphones, making it possible for us to not only see these beautiful animals up close but also hear their calls from below.


Breathtaking encounter with a beautiful pilot whale near the boat / Photo:


Diving back down / Photo:

Pilot whales are among the largest in the dolphin family and only beaten in size by the impressive orcas. Pilot whales and the bottlenose dolphins (yes, Flipper!) are commonly spotted on these trips, while VERY lucky passengers might get a glimpse of a blue whale or even an orca.


Pilot whales in the surface between us and another boat / Photo:

In total 21 different species of whales and dolphins are found in the waters around Tenerife, so the chances of sightings are very good. Besides the whales, sea turtles can frequently be seen in the surface. We came across a large one on this trip, but unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to get a good shot this time around.

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Passengers enjoying the ride / Photo:

And the fun didn’t stop, because this trip is part whale watching and part pleasure trip, so the crew steered us close to some impressive caves at the rugged coast, before anchoring up and giving passengers a chance to jump in for a quick swim behind the boat. Meanwhile, sandwiches and drinks were served (included in the price), while happy tunes were oozing from the boat’s speakers.


Crashing waves against a cave / Photo:


A view of the coastline of Tenerife on our way back to the harbour / Photo:

I’m sure that everyone on board had a great experience and I certainly did. Therefore it’s easy to recommend this experience to anyone finding themselves looking for a good day out at Tenerife. So skip the zoos and hit the sea!

White Tenerife offers private charter of big sailboats as well as a whale watching excursions of various lengths. Check their website for more info. 


A successful whale watching trip is over / Photo:

DON’T MISS THIS: Tenerife on two wheels: Mountain biking in the forest of Anaga

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By Brian Schæfer Dreyer