During our Easter holidays, we took a fantastic trip in Madeira.
The Rota dos Cetáceos is a tourist animation company dedicated to the observation of cetaceans in Madeira. It offers the opportunity (if weather and visibility conditions allow) to swim with dolphins. It is only allowed to swim with certain species of dolphins, namely painted and common dolphins.
For some time now, my children were asking me to do this experience. Contrary to my belief, there is no minimum age to attend. Children under 5 years go free and between 6 and 11 years old they pay € 34.50. If they want to swim with the dolphins they pay € 43. As for adults, they pay € 49.50 and if they want to swim with dolphins they pay € 65.
In the summer (June to September) there are 3 trips per day (08h45, 12h30 and 16h00), in winter (October to May) 2 trips are made per day (9h00 and 13h30). We took the 1:30 p.m. trip.
We meet at the Marina Shopping office in Funchal, 15 minutes before departure time, for a short briefing. The team of marine biologists explained the security measures, the location of the coast watch points, the species of cetaceans we could find, and gave us some instructions on the equipment provided, as well as the rules for approaching cetaceans.
The trip was made on board of a semi-rigid boat with 18 seats, which allows a very close contact with the species in their natural habitat. This trip lasts 2h30. If you can not see cetaceans, you are given the opportunity to repeat the trip at no extra cost! However, in about 500 000 trips already carried out, in only 60 of the trips, this happened. Luckily, we saw many dolphins and even a turtle!
The sea was magnificent, waves hardly moving. It was a hot sunny day. The feeling of floating on the boat was great and the visibility of the coast, as we left the bay of Funchal, unforgettable. On one side, the horizon line with its waterfowl, which made us want to travel offshore. On the other side, the south coast of the island, with its mountain peaks, cliffs, houses with terracotta roofs and domes of the Churches.
In the port of Funchal, the grandeur of the cruise ships, and the beauty of the sailboats we cross by, is memorable. Stories are told in the paintings of the murals of the marina, under the curious glances of the captains, with tanned skins. Curious looks are also those on this cetacean route. My kids peer through the binoculars and spot a group of dolphins in the distance.
The excitement increases, each time we approach a new group, even a turtle that seemed to snooze, cradled by the waves.
There is something in the noise of the sea that anesthetizes us, in the color of the Atlantic sea that pacifies us and in the movement of the dolphins that fascinates us.
Finally, the conditions for the expected diving are met. The masks and respirators are put on. We enter the water gently and grabbed a rope from the boat with one hand to guide us closer to the dolphins.
Down below, the silence is sometimes interrupted by the deafening sound of the tails’ movement and by the unforgettable clicks or squeals of contentment the dolphins make. We feel part of that family and suddenly we are almost like a dolphin, who travels by the ocean …
It was a dream trip, of nature, of dolphins, of pleasure, of sun, salt and sea – not to be missed.
To book this tour visit the website.
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This tour was courtesy of the Rota dos Cetáceos but the opinions expressed are my own.