What comes to mind while arranging your upcoming vacation to Spain? Maybe your dream vacation involves spending a lot of time at the beach, sipping sangria. Or perhaps you already have a list of famous buildings you wish to see.
But there is so much more to learn if you travel inland rather than just along the shore. Given the wide range of aquatic ecosystems that are dispersed over the Atlantic, the Bay of Biscay, and the Mediterranean Sea, Spain is one of the best places in Europe to go whale watching. Whether you decide to go on a typical expedition ship or choose to hire a private yacht, you can anticipate seeing a variety of marine life, including gigantic squid, bottlenose dolphins, and short-finned pilot whales.
The Canary Islands are the focus of most trips, but you may also see whales near to Spain’s southernmost point in the Gibraltar Strait and off the northern coast in the Cantabrian Sea. With so many options, knowing where to start may be difficult, so we’ve put together this quick guide to the absolute finest whale watching locations in Spain.
Best places in Spain for whale watching
Seeing dolphins and whales in their natural environments is one of the genuine thrills of being on a boat or diving in the water. Majestic whales swim in the Mediterranean waters, while cheerful dolphins play in the waves.
While you may identify whale watching and dolphin spotting with the tropics, the Arctic Sea, or the British Columbia shoreline, you can also enjoy some amazing views in the Mediterranean Sea near Spain. Spain has some of the greatest whale viewing in Europe (and some would say the best in the world). The Canary Islands, Bay of Biscay, and Mediterranean Sea are perfect locations for whale watching and scuba diving excursions since they are home to more over thirty various kinds of whales and dolphins
While there are numerous captive dolphins in Spain, you should avoid these aquariums and instead try to view dolphins in their natural surroundings. In Spain, there are more than enough breathtaking locations to view this magnificent species, and fortunately, there are several organizations that work to conserve dolphins and maintain the quality of our oceans. Two dolphins were recently returned to Spain from a dolphinarium in the Netherlands.
Although the Canary Islands are a political part of Spain, they lie off the coast of Morocco, thus we are included them on our list. They are located where the warm seas of Africa and Europe meet in the Atlantic Ocean, where a variety of rare and diverse marine species may be found. The water surrounding the Canary Islands is extraordinarily deep, ranging from up to 2,500 meters in certain places and average 1,000 meters between islands. With more than 500,000 visitors coming here each year; Puerto Colon in Tenerife is well-known for its daily sightseeing and whale watching schooners that leave on a regular basis. We offer a private catamaran charter for a day of whale viewing and snorkeling with a gourmet lunch (hotel pickup in the south of Tenerife is possible, and boats sail from the Puerto Colon port).
The southernmost point of the Iberian Peninsula, Tarifa, is another well-liked location for whale viewing in Spain. Killer whale pods arrive at the Mediterranean Sea’s entrance in early spring to catch bluefin tuna in the Strait of Gibraltar. They resume their migration back to the Atlantic in August.
Throughout the year, Tarifa is an excellent area to see striped dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and long-finned pilot whales (all dolphin family members). During spring and summer, you could also see fin, minke, and sperm whales.
Consider scheduling a whale-watching cruise from Tarifa-Firm, which provides various activities ranging from two-hour excursions to complete observation weeks with a marine biologist. Due to the high winds, Tarifa is a great place to go kitesurfing when you’re not searching for animals.
Make sure to prioritize the Cantabrian Sea if you plan to go whale watching on the Iberian Peninsula. These seas are home to at least 27 cetaceans, and since seven of the 22 species of beaked whales are known to frequent this region, you almost certainly will see one there. Remember that it might be challenging to see beaked whales because they can spend up to 70 minutes submerged in the water.
A bottomless sea pit may be found near Capbreton, off the Basque Country’s coast. Dolphins, pilot whales, and playful harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) come here to eat in the depths at astonishing depths of more than 2,000 meters. Minke whales, fin whales, Northern bottlenose whales (Hyperodon ampullatus), and Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) are a few of the less frequent species in the Bay of Biscay.
Consider yourself extremely fortunate if you see a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), a blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), a sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis), or a Sowerby’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon bidens). Although they are uncommon in these areas, these whales occasionally show up.
Why is the south of Spain such an excellent place to see whales and dolphins?
Where the two bodies of water converge, the Mediterranean, which is warmer due to its higher salt content, flows beneath the Atlantic. This causes currents that boost the quantity of vitamins and minerals in the water, promoting a diverse flora community.
Whales and dolphins are drawn to this location due to the amount of food, notably bluefin tuna. Cetaceans such as fin whales often stop in the Strait of Gibraltar during summer to rest and restore their energy before continuing their journey to the Atlantic Ocean.
What animals can you see on a dolphin and whale tour in the Strait of Gibraltar?
Different creatures can be seen depending on how far out to sea you travel. Depending on how far out to sea they go, the tours—many of which depart from Tarifa—take two or three hours. The chances of seeing larger species like orcas and the fin whale, the second-largest mammal in the world (after the blue whale, which you won’t see here), increase the farther out you travel and the closer you get to Tangiers in Morocco.
Orcas (killer whales), fin, pilot, and sperm whales are among the whale species that may be seen. Common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and striped dolphins can all be seen. In addition, when Moroccan fisherman brings in enormous bluefin tuna in their little motorboats, it’s possible to witness turtles swimming in the water.
You may enjoy the best cultural and natural worlds by combining a Spanish vacation with a whale-watching tour (or two or three!). After seeing flamenco dancers over tapas in the evening, spend the following day on the water watching whales glide and jumping by your boat.