Whale Watching in Tenerife

By Abi King | Spain

Feb 05

Whale watching Tenerife Los Gigantes-13

Whale Watching in Tenerife

For some reason, we often associate with whale watching with far flung destinations or long ocean voyages. But it’s perfectly possible, indeed highly likely, to be able to go whale watching in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, not far from the shore.

Here we talk about whale watching in Tenerife: what it’s like and how you can do it too.

What It’s Like To Go Whale Watching in Tenerife

Pedro Martina’s sun-worn face lights up as he grabs my shoulder and points into the distance.

“Three of them are under the water now,” he says as I scour the shades of blue. “One baby and two adultos… and further behind them I can see two more.”

A pair of pilot whales in Tenerife

A Different Kind of Whale Hunting in Tenerife

It’s certainly not the first time Pedro has hunted whales, but you wouldn’t know it to look at him. Despite a seafaring tradition of more than three generations plus hauling tourists along the waves every day, he still wears that expression of childlike wonder.

He’s right, of course, and I stare, mesmerized as sleek-skinned pilot whales rise out of the water. At first glance, they look like giant dolphins, with their glistening dorsal fins, curved leaps and semi-wicked glints in their eyes. Water falls off them like diamonds, yet their chunky body shape suggests that someone got their proportions wrong.

It’s only when we find a school of dolphins half an hour later that the difference becomes clear.

Whale watching in Tenerife and looking for dolphins

What’s the Difference Between Pilot Whales and Dolphins?

Dolphins are sprightlier, bouncier, faster. They are also much, much smaller.

Pilot Whales, I learn, are 6 metres long at birth and can grow to weigh 3 tons. In a happy change from many whale-related stories, they are not critically endangered, nor even under threat.

The same cannot be said for the fishing business that Pedro grew up with in Puerto de Santiago.

Whale watching boats at Los Gigantes in Tenerife

Endangered Fishermen and a Family Tradition

His grandfather practiced line-caught tuna fishing, a dolphin-friendly but backbreaking method of heaving the hulk of a tuna fish onto a small boat by means of a single line. Days started at four in the morning and drove on until eight at night for all but two months of the year. Now that tradition has gone.

“Contamination,” says Pedro, when I ask. “And trawler nets.”

Landscape around Los Gigantes in Tenerife seen from a whale watching boat

Changing Times in Tenerife

We both gaze across the perfect sky and cliffs that frame the Atlantic Ocean. Would Pedro have preferred to be a fisherman?

He pauses for a moment. “Fishing is hard work, very hard work. It is also very good for the body, good for the form.” He pats his stomach and bellows with laughter.

Seagulls swoop from overhead to snatch food from his crewmate’s outstretched hands.

“We have to change,” Pedro tells me. “Everything has to change. It is typical, it is life.”

He hands me a whale-watching certificate, smiles and then saunters down to encourage the seagulls.

Beautiful whale watching in Tenerife

 

Pedro is the captain of Nashira Uno. The Maritima Acantilados group organizes Whale & Dolphin Cruises from Los Gigantes in Tenerife.

[email protected]

Tel: +34 922 86 19 18

Website: maritimaacantilados.com

Alternative luxury whale watching charters (untested) – http://www.tenerifesailingcharters.com/

When is the best time of year to go whale watching in Tenerife?

Tenerife offers year round chances to spot whales and dolphins.

What is the Tenerife dolphin and whale watching boat trip like?

This is a relaxed, easy-going affair. Bring water, a hat and sunscreen plus any camera equipment you like.

What else is there to do in Tenerife?

Tenerife has fascinating archaeological pyramids, a volcano to climb and incredible beaches to lounge on. Most unusually, it is blessed with beaches where the sand is black. These are usually pretty quiet as the big resorts have built up around the white sand places.

Despite its bad reputation for mass tourism, I found Tenerife to be a place of transcendent beauty and surprise. No, seriously! You just need to know the right place to stay…

Where should I stay in Tenerife?

The chic-est spot is probably the small village of Garachico on the northern coast of the island. I’d recommend the boutique Hotel San Roque, an elegant, historic place bursting with colour, privacy and calm. 

Why not Pin Now, Read Later?

Whale watching in Tenerife with help on how to arrange a trip in Los Gigantes

Disclosure – some of the links on this website may earn me some money at no extra cost to you. However, I only recommend places that I would, well, recommend. Otherwise it starts getting a bit weird…

Follow

About the Author

Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!

  • ralph says:

    This is just lovely ! I have never seen a while in real life, but lucky me :) we have Animal Planet on the tv.

  • Abi says:

    I’d been lucky enough to see dolphins before in Oman, but these were the first whales I saw up close and in the wild.

  • ciki says:

    everything has to change. those 3 words gave me goosebumps just reading them. Amazing photos and captivating storyline.. i was totally mesmerized:) thank u!

  • waitinginthedark says:

    I saw whales twice and that was one of the most intense and fascinating experiences in my life, together with shark encounters. Unfortunately, both whales and sharks continue to be chased and their population is dramatically diminishing. There’s still so much to do to guarantee the preservation of these amazing creatures…

  • Abi says:

    Thanks @Ciki – I just loved this trip.
    @waitinginthedark – I still long to see a Blue Whale and I’d be pretty keen to see a Great White (although on my terms, not theirs!)

  • Wildlife Tours says:

    Great post and a great story. I love watching whales and dolphins in the wild

  • Abi says:

    Guess your mother gave you an appropriate name, then :)

  • Larson Poole says:

    I love iceberg picture in your Flick profile.

  • Abi says:

    Thanks – if you’re interested you can read more about glaciers here:

    https://www.insidethetravellab.com/glacier-tour-alaska/

  • Alex H says:

    They look like killer whales am I correct?

    I’ve seen a few hump back whales in my time when ive been on fishing expeditions. They are fascinating creatures. It’s a shame that people actually hunt these animals.

    Great post btw.

  • >
    %d bloggers like this: