Lively, intelligent and often gentle, dolphins are not mere fish and are much safer to approach than whales. As they can be so interactive, swimming with dolphins ranks as one of the most rewarding and magical marine experiences a person can have. Dolphins can be met either in the open ocean or at an aquarium, and Portugal stands as one of the few places where both kinds of opportunities exist.
Madeira is a Portuguese island located the coast of Morocco. It is best known for its desert wine, but another major attraction is the opportunity to swim with dolphins. This is usually offered as part of a dolphin and whale-watching trip. If a pod of dolphins is spotted, the weather conditions are right, and the boat can get close enough without scaring them, you can go into the sea with snorkeling gear and swim with them. While most trips that advertise swimming with dolphins usually do find opportunities to do so, it is important to remember there are no guarantees. Rota de Cetacoes is one such operation that sends trips out twice a day, all year around.
Marina Shopping--Centro Commercial Infante
Avenida Arriaga 75--Loja 230
011 (+351) 921280600
Farther out in the Atlantic than Madeira are the Azores, which offer what some consider to be one of the top dolphin-swimming opportunities in the world. The format is identical to what is offered on Madeira: if the conditions are right, a dolphin-watching trip can become a swimming with the dolphins trip. What makes the Azores so good is that the opportunities are much better. CW Azores, for example, states its half-day dolphin trips usually have three or four opportunities to strap on a mask, fins and snorkel, and swim with the dolphins. It is virtually certain that if you go on a dolphin-swimming trip in the Azores, you will get at least one opportunity to do so.
011 (+351) 292622622
On the Portuguese mainland, dolphin-swimming is limited to the aquarium format. Zoomarine is a marine park in the Algarve, in the southern coastal region of Portugal, and visitors who make reservations in advance can sign on for the Dolphin Interaction Program. This is the most family-friendly dolphin-swimming option, as it is much safer for children and offers a controlled environment. Under the Zoomarine program, you will spend an hour in the classroom learning about dolphins and receiving safety instructions, followed by about 30 minutes spent in the swimming tank with the dolphins.
Estrada Nacional 125
011 (+351) 289560300
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.