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6 tips for the best boats & whale watching companies

whale watching

Since it is a very popular activity on the island, there is plethora of companies and tours to choose from. It can be overwhelming.
Below are some of my tips to help you make some decisions.

TIP 1 – Best whale and dolphin watching companies in Madeira

Whale watching los angeles excursions are very popular. They are probably the most booked activity.
Many companies are offering such boat tours, most of them departing from Funchal.

From my research, I have not found one company to have a better reputation than the other. All of them have good reviews and most offer 2 to 3 tours a day.

I think that the most important is to choose the best type of boat for you and the type of services you are looking for.
Remember that no one company can guarantee sightings. They are wild animals and will appear only if they want to.
Plus, boat pilots do communicate to help each other, so if one company spots a whale or a pod of dolphins, it will let the other knows.

In the high season, it is wise to book your tour at least a few days in advance.

TIP 2- Catamaran vs speedboat

There are different kinds of boats to go whale and dolphin watching, mostly:

  • Catamarans
  • Speedboats

Those tours have roughly all the same duration, between 2 and 3 hours from Funchal. But there is a price difference, so it depends on what you need.

Pros of a catamaran whale and dolphin watching tour:

  • You can move around
  • Softer on your back
  • Toilets on board
  • More space for everyone to see the dolphins
  • Easy to go swimming from the boat
  • Some tours have snacks and drinks

Pros of a speedboat whale and dolphin watching tour:

  • Fun of the speedboat for those who enjoy it
  • You can cover large distances quickly, so in theory, more chances to seeing multiple pods
  • Some people experience less motion sickness
  • If you have kids, everyone stays seated, so it is easier to keep an eye on them
  • Lower on water, so dolphins can get really close to you
  • My personal preference goes to the catamaran. Mostly because I find speedboat uncomfortable for my back and because it is easier to move around and for everyone to get a good view.
  • Book on a speedboat

There is also a pirate boat tour that is an adventure in itself, and would please your kids. Since you go around Madeira as well, you can see dolphins from it too.
It is on the Santa Maria de Colombo. It is a replica of the Christopher Columbus flagship (built in 1998). It is an adventure to experience sailing near Madeira as they were discovering it 500 years ago.

TIP 3 – Swimming with dolphins in Madeira

There are not many places in the World where you can swim with wild dolphins.
I have done it in New Zealand, and it was fascinating (and a little scary as they do swim very fast around you).

In Madeira, it is also a possibility. It the pilot finds a pod with one of 3 species of dolphins, then he is allowed to let you go swim with them.

Only few tours are available, so book as early as possible.

TIP 4 – Possibility of extra tour if no sighting

One of the criteria to consider is if they offer to retake the tour in case of no sightings.

It depends on the company, some do, others don’t.
There is really a high chance of seeing them…
So, it depends if your program is flexible or not.

TIP 5 – other things to consider

Different tours offer different services. It all depends on what you are looking for:

  • Drinks
  • Snacks

TIP 6 – Combine with sunset

If you are looking for something romantic, you can book a tour at sunset – you may see dolphins and whales and you will enjoy the beautiful colors of a sunset over the water and hitting the cliffs of Madeira.

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