Watching dolphins in Tenerife with Flipper Uno

Before we flew out to Tenerife we had discussed possible day trips for when the kids inevitably got bored. Top of the list was seeing the dolphins with a company called Flipper Uno based out of Los Gigantes Harbour in Tenerife.

Personally, I reckoned we’d have a day at the hotel pool, then a day building sandcastles somewhere. Only then would the kids be bored. I was surprised when both kids declared that they didn’t want to go to the beach.

This has caught Mrs DannyUK and I off-guard as we fully expected at least one of them to badger us about seeing the dolphins.

Apparently, the lure of the hotel pool is too strong and - armed with a couple of inflatable rings - the pair of them are happy to spend every spare second splashing about.

The upside for us adults is that they are happy to splash about without us in there with them. Also, we are all-inclusive here, and never far from a poolside bar.

Having said that, Mrs DannyUK is keen to get out and do stuff, which suits me. As I mentioned before, sitting by the pool in the sun is lovely, but after five minutes I am bored and restless.

Earlier research had told us that a dolphin and whale viewing boat tour was situated a five-minute drive away from the hotel.

Flipper Uno dolphin watching

Flipper Uno certainly had a presence around where we stayed as I saw their adverts on several occasions. One thing that seemed to be missing, however, was the price.

We checked the official Flipper Uno website (the link is in English) but still couldn’t see prices listed. Even TripAdvisor came up relatively useless for costs.

As the resort was only a short way away from the hotel, we managed to prise the kids from the pool and made our way through the busy streets to the harbour.

Parking up nearby, we strolled toward the entrance to the harbour and almost immediately was greeted with a friendly “Hola!” from one of the Flipper Uno sales girls stood outside their shop.

It turns out that they have several different offerings for their trips, with the option of 1-hour, 2-hour and 3-hour trips. We initially thought about the longest trip, figuring we’d make the most of it, before settling on the 2-hour trip.

Flipper Uno offers a guarantee on their voyages that you will see either dolphins or whales. I took this with a pinch of salt, mentally preparing myself to argue for our money back if we saw nothing.

We picked a time that suited us - 10.30am, so we would miss the sheer heat of the early afternoon - and booked our tickets for the following day.

The cost for the two-hour excursion with Flipper Uno was 15 Euros per adult and 7.50 Euros per child.

Fear of capsizing

Nighttime soon came and a couple of hours after booking the boat journey, we had eaten and retired for the night.

The next morning we were up early enough to catch the start of breakfast at the hotel. Mrs DannyUK was excited about the boat trip, only to be cut short when step-daughter came in and revealed that step-son, who is 9 years old, no longer wanted to go.

“Tough! The tickets are bought and paid for!” was my response, albeit muttered slightly.

“I’ll go and see what the problem is.” was the more reasoned reply of his mum.

It turned out that he was scared that the boat may capsize and didn’t want to go for that reason. I’ve no idea what had brought it on, but he was obviously concerned.  Fortunately, a two-minute chat with his mum soon changed his mind and after breakfast, we were on our way.

Los Gigantes harbour

We got there about 45 minutes early. (Yes, we’re THAT family that arrives first everywhere we go) and had a wander around the harbour.

We spent some time looking at the fish as they swam in and around the moored boats before finally getting to climb aboard the Masca Express, our home for the next couple of hours.

Los Gigantes Harbour in Tenerife

Los Gigantes Harbour in Tenerife

The sky was clear, the sun was shining and a slight breeze meant that we never felt like we were too hot. The crew of the small craft guided her slowly out of the harbour and into the North Atlantic Ocean.

Seeing the dolphins in Tenerife!

After hustling along for a few minutes the boat slowed considerably. The passengers did their best meerkat impressions as they craned their necks upwards, straightened their backs and did their best to see why we had slowed.

Suddenly, to the left (port? starboard? Who knows?) we saw them.

“It’s a mother and her babies.” said the member of the crew who’d spotted them, and sure enough there were three or four dolphins swimming along together.

Everyone ooohed and aahed for a while before we moved on. We’d done well to find dolphins so quickly, I thought to myself. How wrong I was. Within minutes we had again slowed to a crawl and were greeted with dozens of dolphins alongside the boat.

We must have spent a good 20 - 30 minutes with these dolphins, who happily swam around the boat. The few times that we sped off, they raced alongside us, jumping in and out of the water.  To all intents and purposes (I’m so tempted to say “porpoises” here) looking as though they were playing with us.

Dolphin leaping on the Flipper Uno trip

Dolphin leaping on the Flipper Uno trip

After some time - and more photos than I care to count - we were moving along again. Just in time for stepson to reveal that he felt unwell.

Travel sickness

We’d forgotten in our excitement that we all suffer from travel sickness to varying extents, but that stepson is probably the worst of us all. We hadn’t given him a travel sick tablet and he was quickly going grey having spent so long at sea.

We didn’t have the heart to tell him that we weren’t even halfway through yet. The boat powered on to the next destination, crashing through the waves at speed.  It did little to help the young boy who by now had been handed a bag to be sick in..

Various passengers around us offered their help.  This included a peppermint teabag for him to sniff to try and make him feel better. I don’t think anything really perked him up though.  He just lay with his head in his mum’s lap for the remainder of the journey.

The second part of the trip was a stop-off allowing people to swim in the sea. A few passengers took the opportunity but most of us stayed on board and enjoyed the sun and the view across the water and that of the nearby mountains.

Shortly after that, we headed back to dry land. Once we were off the boat, stepson perked up almost immediately. Within five minutes you’d never have known he’d been feeling so rough.

I was jealous of his recovery time.  When I’ve suffered from travel sickness it tends to be a feeling that continues for hours, often bringing on a migraine. Having said that, it was good to see him back to his usual bouncy self.

The experience was definitely one that we’d do again. Being so close to the dolphins was amazing. We may not have seen any whales but it was hard to be disappointed.

by DannyUK

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