Watch the Video of this Trip:
Best thing about this trip: There is always a marine biologist on board who explains to the passengers the different marine species that can be observed. This trip is part of an environmental education program that includes a video of the trip that is offered to passengers after the tour.
Departure Point: Ferragudo
Route: There is no route, the skipper takes the boat where the cetaceous are.
Duration: 3 hours
How likely are we to see dolphins? The success rate of 2016 was 97%. There is a guarantee of dolphin watching, passengers can rebook the trip for free or receive a 100% refund if they do not spot dolphins.
Best thing about this boat: Semi-rigid, fast, stable and safe.
Motor or Sailing: Motor.
Maximum Capacity: 12 passengers + 2 crew.
The Algarve coast is home to a wide variety of marine wildlife including dolphins and species of whales, head out to sea on a wildlife tour to spot as many of these marine stars as possible.
The three hour trip comes with a guarantee of seeing dolphins, with the offer or a refund or rebook if none are seen during the day, however it is not only dolphins that live along the coast and you will be taken out to areas known only by the fishermen and marine biologists where you will hopefully be able to see minke whales, blue sharks, orcas and of course, dolphins.
Relive the entire unforgettable experience with a video of the trip including underwater footage available for you to then be able to share this amazing experience with family and friends back on dry land.
Book now with only a small deposit to reserve your seat! Spaces are limited and advanced booking is essential so book now.
|Child (Aged 4-11)||45.00€|
|Infant (Aged 0-4)||FREE|
|Marine Wildlife Experience||65.00€|
All bookings are subject to availability and to confirmation.
Trip report by Algarve Fun’s writer Sara Fernández. Sara is a marine biologist and sea-lover that has been living in the Algarve and spent a long time working on dolphin watching boats. Continuously amazed by these magnificent creatures, she strongly believes that tourism is a powerful tool towards conservation. She loves sailing, diving and showing our visitors the spectacular marine life of the Algarve.
The Marine Wildlife tour took 3 hours. I met the guide in Ferragudo when I arrived and was doing the check in. Her name was María. She is a marine biologist who was very friendly and charismatic. She helped me and the rest of the passengers to put the life-vests on and accompanied us to the end of the pier once the boat arrived. The boat was a powerful RIB-boat called Eco Explorer; an ideal name! Carlos was the skipper, a young fisherman that has been working in tourism for the last few years. He is a local from Portimão and knows all the secrets of the Algarvian Sea.
Once we were all aboard, María provided the safety briefing and a nice informative talk to set expectations. Of course, we all needed to understand that the animals are wild and live in the open sea and crew don’t use anything other than their eyes and experience to find them, so patience is the key.
We then headed into the open sea, towards the big blue! María went to the back with Carlos and both started looking for animals. Soon after departure, the radio rang and Carlos sped up. That meant another dolphin watching boat had found dolphins and they had given us the position! Apparently they work this way to facilitate the task. In 10 minutes we reached a spot where 2 other boats were and quickly saw a pod of dolphins. María was filming with a GoPro and at the same time that explained that they were from the common dolphins species. Then, she took a heavy aluminum stick and attached the GoPro to film underwater. She spoke about the biology and some interesting aspects of this species and she pointed to a calf that was swimming by its mum’s side. The summer is the breeding season for most of the marine life we can watch here, so chances of seeing calves in an encounter are high. This pod in particular seemed to be very sociable and approached to the boat. We were so close to the dolphins! It was a magic moment.
After around 20-30 minutes of watching the pod, María suggested to move on so that we could continue the search for some other animals.
Carlos decided to head south towards Portimão Canyon. This is a very special place were occurrence of marine mammals are slightly higher than in other places. This underwater canyon begins at 100m of depth and is located 12 miles offshore. From the 100 m deep it suddenly drops down to 2000 m deep more to the south. There is a physical phenomenon here called upwelling that makes the water very rich in nutrients. This fact stimulates the food chain and therefore, many top predators came here to feed. That’s also the reason why we can see several trawlers fishing in this area.
We spent quite some time searching and the effort was rewarded. In front of us we saw something very fast on the surface that then disappeared. Carlos slowed down until he stopped the boat. Everyone was exciting looking at all directions. María said it could have been a whale but it was far from the boat. Whales can hold on their breath for a very long time under the water. The most frequent species that occurs in this region is the minke whale and they are usually seen alone. There is never a guarantee of seeing whales due to this diving habit and the population here is also migrant. But, on a lucky day, you still have a chance! After a few minutes someone on the boat shouted “whale” pointing to one of the sides of the boat. Carlos sped up and everyone sat down again. We reached the whale. María was as excited as us. It was, indeed, a minke whale! It had its characteristic white spot on the fins. It disappeared again. The boat stopped and we waited for the whale to show up again. That happened a few minutes afterwards. María told us everything she knew about these big creatures. It was a very special sighting, even though we enjoyed it only for a few short seconds.
We stayed in the same place for a while to see the whale a couple more times and then we continued. We still had some time ahead but we were quite far from the coast so headed back to Ferragudo, with the hope of finding something else on the way.
I guess we were lucky as we then saw a pod of bottlenose dolphins that day! The boat slowed down and María proceeded to film underwater. She talked to us about the different behaviors of dolphins. She even compared them with a person: some days they are more sociable and some days they want to be alone. This pod was travelling quickly and didn’t stop for us. We could though enjoy them for some time and admire their beauty. We could see they were much bigger than the common dolphins!
Time was unfortunately running out and we returned back to Ferragudo. In the office, María played the video and we could watch the underwater footage of the trip while we enjoyed a coffee and tea with biscuits that was prepared for us. She did an amazing and informative debriefing explaining aspects about marine mammals, the marine ecosystems in the Algarve and focusing on its conservation and the issues they are facing due to human activity. I really enjoyed that talk and I truly believe educational programs like this one should happen more often.
The Marine Wildlife Experience was an excellent trip and I am very grateful to María, Carlos and the rest of the team for making it so special!