Dolphin Watching Algarve

A must-do activity for nature lovers!

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Dolphin Watching Algarve

Dolphin watching in the Algarve is a must-do activity for nature lovers and animal enthusiasts. This southernmost region of Portugal is home to some of the most beautiful and diverse marine life, including several species of dolphins.

Imagine being out on the open sea, the sun shining down on you, and a pod of beautiful dolphins jumping and playing right beside your boat. The best feeling in the world, right? It’s an experience you’ll never forget! No wonder it is one of the most popular nature activities amongst tourists!

In this guide I will explain to you everything you need to know about eco-friendly and sustainable dolphin spotting in the Algarve.

A quick overview:

What is the best time to go dolphin watching in the Algarve?

The best time to go dolphin watching in the Algarve is from May to October. During this time, the weather is warm and sunny, making it ideal for spending a day out on the water. As the water temperature increases, dolphins tend to be more active and come closer to shore.

This makes it more likely that you’ll have the opportunity to spot a pod of dolphins during your tour.

Another factor to consider is the reduced wind and choppy seas during this period, which makes for a smoother and more enjoyable experience on the boat. This is particularly important for those who are prone to seasickness, as calm waters make for a more comfortable and less nauseous trip.

Can you swim with wild dolphins in Portugal?

Swimming with wild dolphins in the Algarve is not allowed. It is illegal to disturb or harm wild dolphins, and swimming with them can be disruptive to their natural behaviors and habitats.

The tour operators that offer dolphin watching tours in the Algarve are committed to responsible and sustainable tourism and abide by guidelines set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the European Union Habitats Directive. These guidelines prohibit any form of direct human-dolphin interaction, including swimming with wild dolphins.

What dolphin and whale species can you see in the Algarve?

There are several species of dolphins and whales that can encounter during your trip:

Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

bottlenose dolphin


The bottlenose dolphins are known for their intelligence and playfulness, and they can often be seen riding the waves and jumping out of the water. They are usually found in groups of 5 to 20 individuals and can be identified by their beak-like snout and tall, curved dorsal fins.

Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis)

common dolphin


They are usually found in larger groups of up to 100 individuals. They can be identified by their hourglass pattern of coloring on their sides and their long, thin beaks.

Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus griseus)

Risso dolphin


This species of dolphin is less commonly seen in the Algarve, but they can be found in the region. They are known for their distinctive scars, which are caused by the teeth of other Risso’s dolphins. They are usually found in smaller groups of up to 10 individuals.

Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus)

sperm whale


They have large heads and the characteristic blowholes on top of their heads. They are usually found alone or in small groups.

Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus)

Fin whale


They have distinctive long and slender bodies and the characteristic dorsal fin on their back. They are usually found alone or in small groups.

Pilot Whale (Globicephala melas)

pilot whale


They are usually found in larger groups of up to 50 individuals. You can recognize them by their large dark grey bodies and slim pectoral fins.

Killer Whales/Orca (Orcinus orca)

orca

These well known black and white dolphin species can be spotted in groups of up to 10 to 20 individuals but most often in the off-shore waters instead of coastal regions.

Code of Conduct for Dolphin Watching in Portugal

The Marine Environment Research Association (AIMM) in Portugal has created a Code of Conduct for dolphin and whale watching in Portugal.

The Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines that aim to ensure the welfare of marine mammals while still providing visitors with the opportunity to observe them in the wild. The guidelines are based on the best available scientific knowledge and are designed to minimize any negative impact on the animals. The goal of the Code of Conduct is to ensure that marine mammal watching is done in a responsible and sustainable way. By following these guidelines, visitors can help to ensure the welfare of marine mammals and protect them for future generations to enjoy.

The Code of Conduct includes several key points for tour operators and visitors to follow:

  1. Tour operators should approach the dolphins slowly and quietly and keep a safe distance.
  2. Boats should not chase or pursue the dolphins as this can be stressful for the animals and disrupt their natural behaviors.
  3. Tour operators should limit the duration of observation of the animals to no more than 30 minutes. The boats should not approach the dolphins closer than 100 meters and no more than 3 boats are allowed within 100 meters distance.
  4. It is illegal to feed wild dolphins as this can change their natural feeding habits and cause them to become dependent on humans for food.
  5. Visitors should respect the animals’ space and not attempt to swim with or touch the dolphins, as this can be harmful to both the animals and the humans.
  6. Tour operators must avoid making loud noises or sudden movements, as this can startle the dolphins

Best Dolphin Watching Tours in the Algarve

If you’re looking for an exciting and unique way to explore the Algarve, dolphin watching is the perfect activity for you! The Algarve is home to a diverse array of marine life, including several different species of dolphins. Whether you’re a nature lover, a marine enthusiast, or just looking for a fun day out, the Algarve has something for everyone.

But which locations in the Algarve are best to go dolphin spotting? In this chapter I will show you where you need to go and what tours you should book to get the best experience!

Albufeira

dolphin watching albufeira

One of the best places to start your dolphin watching adventure is in Albufeira. This charming coastal town is known for its beautiful beaches and lively atmosphere, making it a popular destination for tourists. But did you know that it also offers some of the best dolphin watching opportunities in the region? The 2,5 hour Dolphin Watching & Cave Trip is one of the most popular dolphin watching tour companies in Albufeira. It has amazing staff, over a thousand good reviews and they work together with professional marine biologists to give you an amazing experience! Another good thing is that the boat only takes up to 18 people!

Click here to check availability and to find the best prices in Albufeira!

Lagos

dolphin watching Lagos

Another great spot to see dolphins is in Lagos. This historic town is located on the western coast of the Algarve, and it’s known for its stunning beaches, picturesque old town, and delicious seafood. But it’s also an excellent place to see dolphins swimming in the wild. From the Marina, you can take a boat tour out to the Atlantic, where you’ll have a chance to spot bottlenose dolphins, common dolphins and Risso’s dolphins. For Lagos I recommend booking a tour with the amazing Sea Life Safari. They are the only company in Lagos with fully certified marine biologists on every trip. How cool is that?

Click here to check availability and to find the best prices in Lagos!

Faro

dolphin watching faro

Faro is the capital of the Algarve and it’s a great place to start your dolphin watching adventure. With a variety of tour operators offering dolphin watching tours, you’re sure to see these amazing creatures up close and personal. You can take a boat trip and see the dolphins swimming in the waters of the Ria Formosa, a protected wetland area, where you can also spot other wildlife like seabirds, seals and even the rare and protected loggerhead sea turtle.

Pedro and his crew offer a personal and small group whale watching opportunity with their small group dolphin watching tour. Perfect for small families or people that like to avoid big crowds of people. They are also the winner of the 2022 Viator Visitor Experience Award for excellent costumer service!

Click here to check availability and to find the best prices in Faro!

Vilamoura

dolphin watching Vilamoura

Vilamoura is another great place to see dolphins in the Algarve. This luxury resort town is known for its beautiful marina, golf courses, and high-end restaurants, but it’s also an excellent spot for dolphin watching. From the marina, there is only one private dolphin watching tour available. This tour allows you to bring up to 12 people for a private tour of 2 hours.

Click here to check availability and to find the best price in Vilamoura!

Portimão

Dolphin watching Portimão

Last but not least, Portimão is has a small eco-friendly dolphin tour company that offers a 2-hour dolphin watching tour starting from the local marina. They have excellent reviews and you won’t need any transport to the surrounding locations Lagos and Albufeira.

Click here to check availability and to find the best price in Portimão!

And there you have it. The Algarve is a fantastic place to see dolphins in their natural habitat. With a variety of tour operators offering dolphin watching trips in Albufeira, Lagos, Faro, Vilamoura and Portimão, you’re sure to have a memorable and exciting experience. So, don’t miss the opportunity to see these amazing creatures up close and personal. Book your trip today and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime!