Whale Watching in Tenerife: A Complete Guide to Tenerife Whale Watching

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One of the best destinations across the globe for rich water biodiversity is Tenerife - the largest island in the Canary archipelago. Especially when it comes to whale watching, Tenerife is one of the best places in the world to do so. Notably, Costa Adeje nestled on the southern coast of this island features large resident populations of Pilot whales. Also, visitors can encounter different species of whales here throughout the year. During the 2018 and 2019 whale watching seasons in Tenerife, the visitors encountered 17 species of cetaceans around its waters. So, for those of you seeking a whale-watching tour in the Canary Islands, Tenerife is an ideal destination that offers reliable weather conditions for this open-ocean creature. Let us explore further!

Why is Tenerife a Popular Destination for Whale Watching?

The waters of the Canary Islands observe about 20 out of the 80 known cetacean species. It is all due to warm waters & temperate climate for the whole year along with the deep sea floors. Due to the advantageous geographic location of Tenerife in the Atlantic Ocean, it lies on the migration route of some of the biggest whale species. In fact, this area attracts many marine mammals. Notably, due to the presence of such flourishing wildlife, the Teno-Rasca Marine Reserve, which protects the west coast of Tenerife was declared one of Europe's most important conservation areas. Moreover, being in a sub-tropical area, Tenerife observes Trade winds from the North-East and the integration of warm currents and the cold waters of the upsurge from the African coast, which fosters a high level of endemism & ecological diversity in this area. Therefore, Tenerife offers excellent whale-watching opportunities.

Types of Whales in Tenerife

Around 17 varied species of Cetaceans have been reported around the waters in Tenerife. Here are the major types of Whales that you can spot, along with their characteristics to identify them doubtlessly!

1. Pilot Whales 

 Pilot whales
Visitors can easily spot the pilot whales in Tenerife as these are the resident species in this area that can be seen year-long. So, keep a watch over the waters. This playful mammal can be up to 16 feet long and usually weigh between 1 and 2 tons. These whales actually come from the dolphin family, however, they are considered whales due to their colossal size. One of the most noteworthy features of the appearance of Pilot whales is they have a rounded head with small beaks & curved mouths. These are black or dark brown-colored cetaceans but they have a gray saddle patch behind their dorsal fin.
You can also catch sight of Risso’s dolphin, which is a type of gray pilot whale. This species differs from the actual pilot whale due to its smaller size and darker color. These weigh between 660 lbs. to 1,320 lbs.

2. Sperm Whales

Sperm Whales
If luck will be on your side, you may spot a sperm whale in Tenerife. These whales are seen occasionally and are amazing to see. Notably, it is the loudest noise-generating animal on our planet. Sperm whales have a large block-shaped head and crumpled skin. It can reach up to 36 to 60 feet and weigh around 15 to 45 tons.

3. Orcas 

Orcas (killer whales) are slightly hard to spot in Tenerife but not impractical. This type of whale can reach up to 30 feet and weigh up to 12,000 lbs. You can easily recognize Orcas due to their black backs and white undersides, and white patches around their eyes.
Although killer whales are rarely seen in Tenerife, there are more chances to see false killer whales (pseudorca). These cetaceans measure up to 20 feet and weigh up to 4,400 lbs. They are very sociable and usually live in pods of 10 to 50 members.

4. Other Whales in Tenerife

Humpback Whale in Tenerife
On a whale-watching tour, other than the above species, visitors have a chance to see various other types of Whales & creatures in Tenerife. Specifically, you may see the northern Atlantic right whale, the tropical fin whale, the bowhead whale, and some rarer species, including the humpback whale, the beaked whale, or the pygmy sperm whale.

Best Time For Whale Watching in Tenerife

The whale watching season in Tenerife is said to prevail all year round. One of the best facts about the whale watching season in Tenerife is that Pilot whales and Bottlenose dolphins can be spotted in the waters between Tenerife and La Gomera 365 days a year. Hence, there are good chances to watch the resident whale species every day. However, the best time for watching migratory whales in Tenerife is from November to February. During this time, Fin whales, Humpbacks, and sometimes Blue whales move past the coast of Tenerife.

Month-wise ideal time to watch different whale species:
According to the season, alongside the resident whale species in Tenerife, many other whale species pass by the island. Here is a glimpse as per months of the year:
  • January marks the high migration season and is one of the ideal months for whale watching in Tenerife. Aside from the common Pilot whales, it is a splendid time to see Humpback whales. Blue whales & Fin whales can be seen sporadically.
  • In February, the winter migrating season begins to wane, and visitors have the last month to see the migrating humpback whales.
  • March may offer the sight of early Sperm whales around the coasts of Tenerife.
  • April is mostly the ideal month to see a Sperm whale near this island.
  • May is generally the last month to spot Sperm whales around. The pilot whales are the highlight during this period.
  • In June, pilot whales can be seen in the waters regularly. It marks early summers in Tenerife, and occasionally killer whales can be seen.
  • July also observes Pilot whales frequenting the shores.
  • August brings good chances to spot Pilot whales and a few chances to see a killer whale.
  • In September, the weather starts getting cooler, and one can see only Pilot whales & dolphins.
  • October is another unfrequented month when only the resident pilot whales & dolphins can be seen.
  • November marks the beginning of the migrating season. There are some chances of spotting fin whales or early humpbacks. Pilot whales are often there.
  • December is among the ideal months for whale watching in Tenerife. There are reasonable opportunities to spot pilot whales, fin whales & humpbacks at this destination. You may also spot migrating blue whales by happy chance.

Where to See Whales in Tenerife

One of the finest activities to do in Tenerife is to go on a whale-watching boat trip from Costa Adeje or Los Gigantes. These two are the main sites for whale-watching tours on this island.

1. Costa Adeje, South Tenerife

Costa Adeje
The southern coast of Tenerife is one of the finest destinations in entire Europe to watch these marvelous marine mammals. Most of the whale watching tours in Tenerife depart from its southern coast, specifically from Puerto Colón in Costa Adeje. It is among the most popular tourist locations on the island, encompassing the two best places to visit in south Tenerife - Siam Park and Las Américas Beach. Costa Adeje is a habitation of pilot whales. Not very far from the shore is the deep ocean channel, which serves as a highway for some of the giant migratory species of whales moving past Costa Adeje at various times of the year.

2. Los Gigantes, Tenerife

Los Gigantes ,Tenerife
Another popular location to go whale watching in Tenerife is Los Gigantes. Some whale-watching tours depart from this small town on the west coast of the island. There are some gorgeous cliff formations nearby, which serve as an amazing setting for a boat trip. While there are few boat tours to this place as compared to Costa Adeje, it also offers excellent whale sighting opportunities. Notably, the azure Atlantic waters around the Los Gigantes are renowned worldwide, as they are a permanent home for resident whales & dolphins. Also, it is a temporary feeding area for various smaller cetaceans.

A Whale-watching Tour Selection Tips

Selecting a suitable whale-watching tour is a very essential task that can significantly impact your experience. Here are a few things to consider!
  • Tour Duration: The duration of Whale watching tours can range from two hours to a full day. You should choose a tour that goes with your schedule.
  • Cost: Consider your budget constraints when choosing a whale-watching tour, as the cost greatly varies. Bear in mind that longer whale-watching tours and private tours are usually on the expensive side. General excursions cost from EUR 25 to EUR 70 per person and private tours range from EUR 450 to EUR 1,000 for a group.
  • Location: There are a few different shores from where you can embark on a whale-watching tour in Tenerife. Select a location that does not require too much traveling and still offers considerable opportunities for whale watching.
  • Tour Operator: Before booking a tour, research the available tour operators. List the operators having a good reputation and positive customer reviews. Also, check whether they have experienced guides and whether they are committed to trustworthy whale-watching practices.
  • Type of Boat:  You should opt for a boat considering the comfort level. Some tours offer small private boats that are more intimate, as well as tours that offer larger boats with lots of people and more amenities too. Moreover, some boats have a better capacity to go further in search of whales, whereas smaller boats may have restricted capacity. Choose according to the kind of experience you want.
  • Included Facilities: You should check what additional facilities are provided by the tour you are planning to book, such as hotel pick-up, food & drinks, etc. Also, most tours provide you with a free rebooking facility, if you do not spot any marine wildlife on your tour. Check these things while booking a tour.

Whale watching is one of the leading activities visitors can do in Tenerife. The island offers remarkable coastal views, and its waters have favorable conditions to sustain various types of marine life. Many companies operate boat trips from the harbors of Tenerife. You must opt for a suitable & sensible whale-watching tour that is safe, educational, and pleasurable, with due respect for marine wildlife. It is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime pursuit for most people and is very popular in Tenerife. So, you must include this activity in your bucket list for your trip to this ideal vacation destination to make it more rich & memorable!

This post was published by Kanika Sharma

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