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Madeira is one of the most beautiful islands in South Europe. There is an eternal spring on this green island which has also incredibly diverse fauna. The island is a must-to-visit destination for every nature lover especially for those who loves hiking.
In addition to the beautiful environment, there is a lot of to do in Madeira. For example, you can just enjoy the nice weather and swim in the ocean during the summer time. Driving around the island is a great way to explore the island's fauna. Hikers will find incredibly beautiful scenery while reaching the highest peaks of the island. Shortly said, the island is a place to relax but not the best destination for a party lover.
Many people are not aware that whale watching is also a popular activity in Madeira. Even though you can see whales in other destinations too, for example in Iceland, having a whale watching cruise in Madeira is a more comfortable choice because of the pleasant weather. The ocean, the sun and fresh sea air belong together!
Our Whale Watching Cruise in Madeira
We visited Madeira in January 2019. Honestly, we were unaware about the possibility to experience whale watching cruises in Madeira on the winter months. As soon as we heard about this option for our to-do-list, we wanted to try it right away.
In the Funchal Harbour, there are a few stalls selling whale watching tourist package, but as always, we wanted to do some price comparison on the internet before buying. After some Google searches, we ended up to getyourguide.com which sells travel-related activities. We noticed that a whale watching cruise was 10 euros cheaper on the internet than the prices in the stalls. So finally, we decided to book the cruise on getyourguide.com.
Fetching from the Hotel
The cruise included a fetch from any hotel in the Funchal area. Because we booked the tour only 2 hours before the scheduled departure, we called right away to the operating company, Atlantic Pearl Catamaran, to tell our hotel's exact location in Lido area. Atlantic Pearl Catamaran had very friendly phone service and in a few minutes, we had agreed the pick-up time.
The driver came just on time and took us to the Funchal harbour by a decent car. The journey from the Lido area to the harbour took only about 15 minutes.
Brand New Catamaran
The boat was a big surprise. We were expecting an old, small and crowded boat but the cruise was operated by a new catamaran which looked really modern. The boat was was just three years old. Its crew were extremely friendly and because there were only a few customers, we had almost the whole catamaran for ourselves. This was a great start for the cruise. Our expectations were exceeded even before the cruising had started!
The cruise was scheduled to last for 3 hours. Before the departure, we were told that whales or dolphins are not always seen atleast in January but we have good chances to see them. The crew informed us that summer is the best season for whales watching as during this time, these mammals tend to travel and move around for food back and forth. So we just needed to wish for the best.
It took about 1 hour before we were far enough from the coastline to see whales and dolphins. We were really lucky to spot whales right away after arriving to the open sea. The whales were swimming in large pods and jumping on the surface every now and then. The catamaran was moving slowly so seeing the mega-pod of dolphins was easier.
We were happy to see whales first time in our lives. Unfortunately, our happiness was combined with sea sickness because the catamaran was quite shaky and photographing distracted our sense of balance. It was not that windy day but in the Atlantic Ocean, there are always strong waves.
Beautiful Coastline on the Way Back
After we had seen the whales for 20 minutes, the catamaran started its way back closer to the coast. The sea were more calm there and we started to feel better. It was also possible to buy drinks and snacks on the boat so having a few soft drinks made us to feel better.
The route back to the harbour went along the coastline of Lido and it took about 90 minutes together. The scenery was amazing and we got so many instagram-able photos. We've got the chance to snapshot the existing highest cliff in Europe, Cabo Girão which is also a famous sight seeing attraction in Madeira. Even though you may not always see whales on the cruise, the scenery makes the journey a worthwhile.
Whale Watching Tips
For your convenience, we list our best whale watching tips.
Book on the Internet
Book the cruise on the internet. Don't let yourself to be overcharged on the stalls. On the internet, you can compare prices easier and you don't need to decide right away which cruise to choose.
Take Warm Clothes With
There is an eternal spring in the Madeira but the spring is not always warm. The sea may be cool during the winter time and even though the sun is shining, you may feel cold. So take a warm shirt and a jacket with. In the summer time, it is warmer. Some cruises include also an option to swim in the sea if the weather is suitable.
Prepare for Sea Sickness
Don't be afraid having nausea. That may happen to anyone but we still recommend you to have the cruise. There are a few ways to decrease the risk.
Have a meal a few hours before the cruise but don't eat too much. Don't consume alcohol but prefer pure water. On the boat, do not move too much. Stay outside the cabin and keep your eyes focused to the horizon line. With these simple tips, the risk of getting motion sick becomes much lower. The cruise of Atlantic Pearl Catamaran we took had a bed located at lower floors in addition to some cushioned spaces where passengers can lie down when feeling bad.
Whales and Dolphins are faster than your reactions. Take many photos. By taking 100 photos we are quite sure there will be a few good shots too. You get better photos with a camera with an optical zoom. Mobile phone cameras are good too but their zoom function in often insufficient. Take your best camera with!
Whale Watching Booking Tip
Booking on the internet is recommended. We booked our cruise on getyourguide.com because we have only had successful experiences with this practical tour booking service. Its price level is also competitive.
We can also honestly recommend to choose Atlantic Pearl Catamaran Cruise. If you prefer to compare yourself, there are many whale watching cruises available on getyouguide.com.
Madeira is one of the best locations to have a whale watching cruise. The odds to see whales are high and a cruise without whales is still a lovely experience. Visiting Madeira without cruise on the sea leaves you to miss something.
If you are worried about getting motion sick, we recommend you to prepare better. Even though we had a little nausea, we would do the cruise again. We wish someone would have warned us beforehand so we could have prepared better.
Have you had a cruise already? Comment below your whale watching trips. Or head to getyourguide.com to compare available options.