The waters around this Portuguese archipelago are deep and nutrient rich, making them well-suited to a wide range of marine mammals. More than 20 different whale species, from pilot and sperm whales to humpbacks, are known to frequent these shores. Here’s everything you need to know about whale-watching tours in Madeira.
When to Go
There are always bottlenose dolphins and at least a couple of whale species swimming in the waters around Madeira, and boats go out year-round. The best time to go, however, is between May and September, when whales and dolphins are most plentiful.
What You’ll See
Several species, including bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales, and sperm whales, can be seen throughout the year. From April to October, Bryde’s whales are common, as are Atlantic spotted dolphins. Fin whales, sei whales, minke whales, and Risso’s dolphins also visit Madeira in summer. Humpbacks, blue whales, and killer whales aren’t common, but are known to occasionally wade into this region.
How to Go
There are several options when it comes to whale-watching tours in Madeira, and most follow a route along Madeira’s south coast. You can go as part of a catamaran or yacht pleasure cruise and lounge on the deck while scanning the waters for marine life. Most pleasure cruises also include swimming and snorkeling breaks.
Alternatively, opt for a RIB boat tour led by a marine biologist. The high-speed boats can go a lot farther to find whales and dolphins, and tours afford eye-level views of cetaceans.