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Common Questions

When is the Madeira whale watching season? 
The prime season for whale-watching runs from April to October, although it is still possible to spot them during winter.
Is it guaranteed that you will see whales on a whale-watching cruise? 
Unfortunately, no. However, the chances are considerably high.
How should you prepare yourself for a whale-watching cruise? 
Ensure you bring warm clothing and a camera.
Will the sea be rough during a whale-watching cruise in Madeira? 
Expect some waves and wind in the Atlantic Ocean, which may cause slight nausea if you are sensitive to motion sickness.
Where can you make reservations for a whale-watching cruise? 
Simply head over to Port of Funchal or book online on GetYourGuide.
What can you expect from whale-watching boats? 
This varies depending on the company providing the service. We got an amazing catamaran. We had the pleasure of boarding a state-of-the-art catamaran.

Whale Watching in Madeira: Our Experiences

Madeira coastline
We embarked on a cruise, venturing approximately 15 kilometers away from the shoreline in search of whales. And our efforts were rewarded, as we successfully encountered these magnificent creatures!

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Discover the essence of Madeira by embarking on a captivating whale-watching cruise. Our story showcases the significance of this remarkable experience, urging you not to miss out. Join us as we recount our successful whale-watching adventure in Madeira and provide invaluable tips on enhancing your cruising comfort. Prepare to delve into a world of awe-inspiring marine life and create memories that will last a lifetime. Read the full story!

Madeira and Whales

Madeira is renowned as one of the most beautiful islands in Southern Europe. This verdant paradise boasts a perpetual spring-like climate and an astonishingly diverse range of flora and fauna, making it an irresistible destination for nature enthusiasts, particularly avid hikers.

What many people fail to realize is that Madeira is not only hiker's paradise but the island also offers exceptional opportunities for whale watching. While this activity can be enjoyed in other locations too, embarking on a whale-watching cruise in Madeira provides added comfort thanks to its pleasant weather conditions. The combination of the ocean's vastness, the warm sun rays and the invigorating sea breeze creates an unforgettable experience that cannot be missed!

Weather in the Winter

Madeira is a favoured destination during the winter season, despite not being the optimal time to spot whales. However, as illustrated in this story, Madeira in January still makes it feasible to catch glimpses of these nature's majestic creatures. Furthermore, the weather during this month offers a pleasant temperature that is neither excessively hot nor cold - perfect for engaging in outdoor activities. Apart from whale watching, traversing the tranquil roads of Madeira during wintertime presents an excellent opportunity to explore the island's diverse fauna. Madeira serves as an idyllic haven for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Our Whale-Watching Tour in Funchal

In January, we had the opportunity to visit Madeira. Surprisingly, we were unaware of the availability of whale-watching excursions during the winter months in Madeira. Once we discovered this option, our curiosity was piqued, and we immediately decided to give it a try.

At Port of Funchal, there are several vendors offering packages for whale-watching tours. However, being diligent as always, we decided to compare prices online before making a purchase. After conducting some Google searches, we stumbled upon GetYourGuide - a platform that offers various travel-related activities. It caught our attention that booking a whale-watching cruise through their website was 10 euros cheaper compared to purchasing tickets from stalls at the port. Consequently, without hesitation or delay any longer further ado, we proceeded with booking our cruise online.

Though brief and description, this experience turned out to be an unforgettable adventure that allowed us to witness whales up close while enjoying breathtaking views of Madeira's coastline.

Pick Up from the Hotel

The whale-watching excursion provided convenient transportation from any hotel in the Funchal region. Since we made a last-minute booking just two hours before departure, we immediately contacted the operating company, Atlantic Pearl Catamaran, to provide our hotel's precise location in the Lido area. The staff at Atlantic Pearl Catamaran were exceptionally friendly over the phone and within minutes, we had arranged a pickup time.

The driver arrived punctually and transported us to Port of Funchal in a comfortable car. The journey from the Lido area to the port lasted approximately 15 minutes.

Cruise on a Brand-new Catamaran

The boat turned out to be a delightful surprise. Instead of the anticipated old, cramped vessel, we were greeted by a modern catamaran that was only three years old. The crew members on board were incredibly friendly and accommodating. Since there weren't many other passengers, it felt as if we had the entire catamaran to ourselves. This unexpected luxury exceeded our expectations and set the perfect tone for an unforgettable cruise experience!!

Madera coastline
After the catamaran departed, it took us 45 minutes to sail to the outer sea from the coastline.
On the catamaran
On the outer sea, the catamaran shut down its engines and used its sails for environmental-friendly cruising.

The whale-watching excursion was planned for three hours. Before our departure, we were advised that sightings of whales or dolphins in January are not guaranteed, but there is a high probability of encountering them. The crew informed us that summer offers the optimal conditions for observing whales because they migrate and explore their feeding grounds during this period. Hence, all we had to do was keep our hopes up and anticipate the best possible outcome.

Niko and Ceasar on the catamaran
The catamaran was brand new and in very good condition. We also had friendly pilots.

Spotting Whale Flocks

After approximately 60 minutes of sailing away from the shoreline, we were finally able to catch a glimpse of magnificent whales and playful dolphins. It was truly fortunate that we immediately encountered the presence of whales upon reaching the open sea. These majestic creatures gracefully swam in sizable groups, occasionally leaping above the surface. The catamaran's leisurely pace facilitated our viewing experience as we witnessed a spectacular mega-pod of dolphins frolicking nearby.

Whale watching boat.
We saw another boat doing the same - spotting whales. It helped our crew to find whales and dolphins.

Rough Sea

We experienced immense joy upon sighting whales for the very first time. Regrettably, our elation was tinged with seasickness due to the catamaran's unsteadiness, and capturing photographs only served to further disrupt our sense of equilibrium. Although the day was not particularly windy, the Atlantic Ocean always carries a certain degree of wave activity.

Peaceful Return to the Port

Once we had observed whales for 20 minutes, the catamaran commenced its return journey nearer to the shoreline. The sea was more tranquil in that area, instilling us with a sense of relief. Moreover, refreshments such as drinks and snacks were available for purchase on board, which further contributed to our well-being.

The voyage back to the port encompassed approximately 90 minutes along Lido's coastline. It presented us with awe-inspiring vistas and countless opportunities to capture Instagram-worthy photos. Notably, we had the privilege of photographing Cabo Girão, Europe's highest cliff and a renowned tourist attraction in Madeira. Even though whale sightings are not guaranteed during every cruise outing, the breathtaking scenery alone makes the journey immensely rewarding.

Cabo Girão
On the way back, we passed Cabo Girão which looked amazing from the sea. We recommend also driving up to the cliff to take panoramic photos of the Atlantic Ocean.

Madeira Whale Watching Tips

To make things easier for you, we have compiled a collection of our top recommendations for whale-watching.

Best Time for Whale Watching in Madeira

In January, despite it not being the optimal season, we embarked on a whale-watching adventure in Madeira. The sea's temperature was below 20 centigrade, necessitating warm attire. Nevertheless, our experience demonstrated that it is indeed possible to observe whales and relish the cruise during the winter months.

Traditionally, the period from April to October is considered the prime time for witnessing whales in Madeira. The summer season presents even more pleasant weather conditions and various sources suggest that whales tend to venture closer to the coastline. However, one should not dismiss a whale-watching excursion even when visiting in winter as sightings can occur throughout the year.

Booking the Best Tour

Book a cruise online to avoid being ripped off by the vendors at the port. The internet allows you to conveniently compare prices and take your time before making a decision on which cruise to book. By carefully comparing, you will find the best whale-watching tour.

Weatherproof Clothes

In Madeira, an everlasting springtime exists, but it does not always bring warmth. The sea can be chilly during winter, and despite the sunshine, you may still feel cold. It is advisable to bring a warm shirt and jacket with you. However, in summer, the climate is warmer. Certain cruises even offer the opportunity to swim in the sea if weather conditions permit.

Sea Sickness

Do not let the fear of experiencing nausea deter you from embarking on an exhilarating whale-watching cruise. While it is a common occurrence, several measures can be taken to minimize the risk. Firstly, it is advisable to have a light meal a few hours before the cruise, ensuring not to overindulge. It is also recommended to avoid consuming alcohol and instead opt for pure water. During the boat ride, try to limit excessive movement and remain outside the cabin with your gaze fixed on the horizon line.

By following these simple guidelines, you significantly reduce the chances of suffering from motion sickness. Additionally, during our experience aboard the Atlantic Pearl Catamaran cruise ship, we discovered that there were lower deck areas equipped with beds as well as cushioned spaces where passengers could lie down if they felt unwell.

Photographing Whales

Whales and dolphins display faster movements than your reflexes. Capture numerous photographs to increase the likelihood of obtaining a few exceptional shots. For optimal results, utilise a camera equipped with optical zoom. Although mobile phone cameras offer decent quality, their zoom capabilities are typically inadequate. Therefore, it is advisable to bring along your most advanced camera for this purpose.

Whales
We were lucky to see whales. Photographing them isn't an easy task as they are fast-moving.

Where to Book?

It is advisable to make reservations online. For our whale-watching adventure in Madeira, we opted to book through the reliable tour booking service, GetYourGuide. We have had previous positive experiences with this convenient platform and found their prices to be competitive as well. Specifically, we highly recommend considering Atlantic Pearl Catamaran Cruise. Fortunately, GetYourGuide offers a wide range of options that allow for comparison and selection of the most suitable choice.

Common Questions

When is the Madeira whale watching season? 
The prime season for whale-watching runs from April to October, although it is still possible to spot them during winter.
Is it guaranteed that you will see whales on a whale-watching cruise? 
Unfortunately, no. However, the chances are considerably high.
How should you prepare yourself for a whale-watching cruise? 
Ensure you bring warm clothing and a camera.
Will the sea be rough during a whale-watching cruise in Madeira? 
Expect some waves and wind in the Atlantic Ocean, which may cause slight nausea if you are sensitive to motion sickness.
Where can you make reservations for a whale-watching cruise? 
Simply head over to Port of Funchal or book online on GetYourGuide.
What can you expect from whale-watching boats? 
This varies depending on the company providing the service. We got an amazing catamaran. We had the pleasure of boarding a state-of-the-art catamaran.

Bottom Line

Madeira is widely regarded as one of the top destinations for embarking on a whale-watching voyage. The chances of observing these magnificent creatures are remarkably high, and even if whales aren't spotted during the cruise, it remains an enchanting experience. A trip to Madeira would be incomplete without venturing out to sea on a cruise.

If concerns about motion sickness arise, it is advisable to make adequate preparations. Despite experiencing slight queasiness ourselves, we would gladly embark on another cruise. It would have been helpful if someone had warned us so that we could have made better arrangements.

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Destination: Portugal

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