Tenerife is one of the few places in Europe where it is possible to spot whales. Several types of cetaceans live in the archipelago and are easily spotted with a boat.
Join a whale-watching cruise to get very close to the whales. Read our guide here with all the information on whale watching tours in Tenerife, including which excursions are the best, which whales can be seen and how to enjoy the experience best.
Where do whale-watching excursions in Tenerife depart from?
To join a whale watching tour, you need to travel to the south of the island of Tenerife. Boats depart from the ports of Los Cristianos, Puerto Colon (Playa de las Americas) and Los Gigantes.
When is it possible to spot whales in Tenerife?
Tenerife is an excellent site for whale watching all year round. Several species of whales live permanently in the Canary archipelago. Therefore, whatever season you visit Tenerife, you can experience this fantastic experience.
Which whales can be seen in Tenerife?
In the waters of Tenerife, several species of whales reside permanently. The most common whales are the pilot whale, humpback whales and sperm whales.
Pilot whale (Globicephala)
The pilot whale has a dark gray, brown or black colored body. It is found in permanent presence in Tenerife and is commonly sighted. Pilot whales commonly move in groups and interact a lot with each other. The most common type of pilot whale reaches around 7 meters in length and can weigh up to 2 tons.
Humpback whales are part of the fin whales family, which includes the largest existing whales. The humpback whale can measure up to 16 meters in length and can weigh up to 30,000 kilograms. Humpback whales permanently inhabit the Canary coasts and are recognizable by their back. Humpback whales can do various stunts in the water, with jumps and pirouettes out of the water.
The sperm whale is one of the largest cetaceans in existence. It can measure up to 20 meters in length. The sperm whale is a diving expert: it can reach 3 kilometers of depth and remain immersed for 35 minutes. It is not very common to see it in Tenerife's waters, but it is still possible.
Other types of whales can be spotted sporadically in Tenerife. They are migratory animals and therefore, they can only be seen at certain times of the year. Among these whales, we find: the Eden whale, the fin whale, the boreal whale and the false killer whale (pseudorca).
Which other marine animals can be seen on a whale watching tour in Tenerife?
Besides whales, the most common animals are certainly dolphins.
Many pods of dolphins of different species live in Tenerife's waters, also very close to the coast. The bottlenose dolphin (or bottle-nosed dolphin) is the most common species and is the classic gray dolphin often depicted in images. Its dimensions are between 2.5 meters and 3 meters. Bottlenose dolphins live in schools of 10-30 specimens and interact a lot with each other and with boats.
Other species of dolphins that may be sighted, although less common than the bottlenose dolphin, are the striped dolphin, the common dolphin, the Atlantic striped dolphin, the wrinkled tooth dolphin and the Risso's dolphin.
Sea turtles are quite common in some Tenerife bays. Longer whale watching tours include visiting the coast where sea turtles live.
What types of whale watching excursions are available in Tenerife?
Whale watching tours vary by length and boat type.
The typical whale watching excursion lasts 2 to 3 hours. Time is enough to reach the cetacean pods and spot whales and dolphins. In the 3-hour excursions, sometimes, there is also time for a dip in the sea.
Other tours last 5 hours and include whale watching, lunch, and free time to swim, snorkel or sunbathe on the deck of the boat.
The cheapest excursions are done in typical motorboats with a group of people. Other excursions are aimed at a more luxurious audience: tours on private boats and sailing boat tours.
What are the best whale-watching cruises?
Whale watching tour in Tenerife
Depart Puerto Colon, southwest of Tenerife, on this 2-hour whale watching tour. The boat will move 4-5 kilometers from the coast towards La Gomera. In this area permanently live whales and dolphins. The crew will assist you in spotting cetaceans in the water.
Tenerife: whale watching cruise from Los Gigantes
This sailing tour departs from the port of Los Gigantes. Sail the waters between Tenerife and La Gomera to spot whales and dolphins. In the second part of the tour, you will approach the coast, where you will drop anchor for a swim and snorkel. The 3-hour excursion is for small groups of people and is done on a wonderful sailing boat and includes drinks and fresh fruit.
Tenerife: whale and dolphin watching with drinks and snacks
This experience is similar to the previous one, but starts from Puerto Colon. The tour is carried out on a sailing boat with a maximum of 12 people. Therefore, you will have plenty of space to enjoy the experience on the boat and see whales and dolphins.
After whale watching, the tour continues to an isolated bay where you can swim and snorkel among sea turtles.
Small group catamaran trip with marine species sighting, meal and transfers
Set sail with a luxury catamaran and a small group of people in search of whales and dolphins. The catamaran accommodates up to 12 people and therefore you will have plenty of space for you. During the crossing, you can enjoy a rich selection of Spanish tapas, with beer, wine or soft drinks.
There will also be time to stop and swim among the sea turtles. This tour departs from Puerto Colon but also includes hotel pick-up from other areas of Tenerife and transfer to the departure pier.
Private yacht cruise with whale and dolphin watching
If you want to try a more private and personal experience for your couple or family, try a private boat tour. Set sail from Puerto Colon to the waters off Tenerife in search of whales and dolphins. The captain of the boat will help you to spot the cetaceans in the water. Afterward, you will reach an isolated bay on Tenerife's south coast, where you can stop and snorkel among the turtles or sunbathe on the boat deck.
How much does a whale watching tour cost from Tenerife?
Whale watching cruises from Tenerife are very similarly priced.
- 2-hour motorboat excursions are the cheapest and cost around € 25 - € 30 per person.
- The 3-hour boat tours cost from € 40 to € 70 per person depending on the type of boat and the number of participants.
- 5-hour excursions cost around € 50 - € 60 per person.
- Private tours cost between € 450 and € 1,000 for a whole group, depending on the duration and type of boat.
Is it guaranteed to see whales on the tours in Tenerife?
It is not guaranteed to see whales on the boat tour, but the probability is very high.
Several species of cetaceans live permanently in the waters of Tenerife, and therefore it is almost guaranteed to see some species of animals every day of the year.
Is it necessary to book a whale watching tour in Tenerife online?
Tours can be booked on-site, but online booking is strongly recommended. Many operators give discounts if you book online.
Furthermore, by booking online, you will be sure of the availability of the tour on the chosen date and time. On busy days, most of the whale watching boats are full.
What happens to the whale watching tour in case of bad weather?
If bad weather does not allow the activity to be carried out safely, the tour is canceled and you will receive a refund of 100% of the value of the activity.
Furthermore, most of the activities offer the customer the possibility to cancel free of charge up to 24 hours before the event.
What other water and sports activities can be done in Tenerife?
Tenerife offers the opportunity to try a lot of outdoor activities, both aquatic and terrestrial.
- Boat trips and tours. One of the best ways to explore the coast of Tenerife is to join a boat ride.
- Snorkeling. Set sail or kayak to get to Tenerife's best snorkeling spots. You will be able to see turtles, fish and dolphins in their natural habitat.
- Whale watching. Tenerife is one of the few places in Europe where this is possible. Do not miss the opportunity!
- Jet ski rides. Rent a jet ski and ride at high speed along the coast of Tenerife.
- Scuba diving. Dive into the waters of Tenerife to explore the seabed and admire the marine flora and fauna.
- Kayaking. One of the best ways to explore the south coast of Tenerife, full of bays, cliffs and caves, is definitely by kayaking. Don't miss the chance to see sea turtles and dolphins up close.
- Stargazing. If you are a lover of the starry sky, take the opportunity of your visit to Tenerife to admire the stars from the center of the island. Mount Teide offers excellent conditions and hosts a large astronomical observatory.
- Quad tour. Explore Teide National Park on an adventurous off-road quad bike excursion.
Here are some travel tips to better enjoy whale watching.
- Although Tenerife's climate is temperate, when you are in the middle of the ocean, the temperature will be lower and there may be wind. Therefore, if you join the tour in winter, remember to bring a windbreaker.
- Whale watching excursions are in high demand in Tenerife. Therefore, book as soon as possible to reserve the desired date and time.
- Book online, because you will surely get a better price than on the spot.
- If you can get seasick, book the tour with a large boat (possibly a catamaran) on which the waves sway is less perceptible.
- Make your way to the dock at least half an hour early to allow time to board the boat and settle down. Also, consider the time to find the exact location and park. The boats leave on time.