We engaged in very few “touristy”-type experiences while on Tenerife, and this was by design. But one wouldn’t hurt us, right? We were invited by Third Element to join one of their three-hour whale-watching tours. How could we say no?
Generally, any whale-watching trip comes with a massive disclaimer: there’s no guarantee that you’re going to see whales. But either the guys from Third Element were recklessly confident, or the sightings between La Gomera and Tenerife are just that dependable, because they said we’d “definitely” spot some pilot whales, along with bottlenose dolphins.
And we did! But first, a little about the tour itself. This was a three-hour excursion, leaving from Los Gigantes. The boat was large, but they have a maximum group size of nine, so we had tons of room to stretch out… I alternated between the seats near the back (to more comfortably talk with our guides), and the deck out front (to better see the animals). Snacks, food and drink, including alcoholic beverages, are available throughout the journey, and the guides were both knowledgable about the animals and friendly.
The weather was gorgeous, and we were having a blast even before spotting the first dolphins, though we didn’t have to wait long. Just a couple kilometers off the coast, we found a couple playing in the water, and approached. These were bottlenose dolphins, and they were utterly unconcerned by our boat; in fact, they seemed almost amused by it. We watched them swim for a bit, then continued to distance ourselves from shore. Our captain had received an exciting update from another operating company. I was impressed that, even though they’re competitors, the tour operators all work together to share news, in order to provide the best experiences possible to their customers.
After receiving the update, we headed toward a massive pod of spotted dolphins. And I mean massive. Soon enough, we were surrounded by dolphins… splashing in front of our boat, leaping into the air off to the side, trailing us and playing in the motor’s wake. It was incredible. Our guides estimated the pod at around 300, and they all seemed to be competing for attention. They swam right alongside the boat, so close that I probably could’ve reached down and pet one. It was all I could do to stop myself from jumping in and living out the Dolphin-Buddy fantasies that all of us secretly harbor.
We were here a long time, and would’ve stayed longer, if not for another incoming notification: pilot whales. Off we went in pursuit, and soon enough we were stationed before a lackadaisical group of six or seven whales. Our guides explained that they were tanking up on sunlight, after deep dives into the frigid waters of the Atlantic, and that they were probably asleep. “Whales”, my eight-year-old inner-voice reminded me, “sleep with half their brain active”. So it wasn’t surprising to see them swimming while asleep; still coming up for air, and making shallow, easy dives.
The day had been an absolute success. Honestly, even if we hadn’t seen any whales or dolphins, I would have been satisfied… unless you’re prone to sea-sickness, a long excursion on an awesome boat, with beautiful weather, good company, food and beverages, is always going to be pleasant. And the fact that we did in fact see whales and dolphins — more than I think I’ve seen throughout my life, combined — was almost like a bonus.
If you’re looking for an excellent whale-watching experience, we can completely recommend Third Element. I have to share the disclaimer that they did comp our trip, but honestly, I’d be making this recommendation whole-heartedly even if that weren’t the case. Just take a look at these pictures! It was one of our best days during our time on Tenerife.
Book your Whale Watching Tour here: Third Element Sailing Charters