Before we visited Gibraltar, all I knew was that it’s a huge rock where monkeys live, and you can do some pretty cool dolphin watching on boat trips. As our trip was at such short notice, I had just a day to plan our break. Booking on a dolphin tour was top of my list.
We booked a lunchtime boat tour, which lasts approximately 2 hours. This gave us plenty of time to walk to the marina from our accommodation – along with a stop off at a café selling churros 🙂
Dolphin Safari is Europe’s longest running dolphin tour and is located in Marina Bay. Marina Bay is a short 10 minute walk from the Frontier crossing from Spain, and a 5 minute stroll from Casemates Square in the Old Town.
There’s no mistaking the boats – they are bright blue! We were greeted by a very happy, smiling crew as we boarded our boat and the children ran straight to the front (as expected).
Weather-wise it was a bit of a drab day. A grey cloud was hanging over the top of the Upper Rock Nature Reserve and it was a bit breezy. We were full of optimism though 🙂
As we pulled out of the marina we sailed alongside the airport runway, which projects out into the sea. It was quite a scarily amazing experience to then have an airplane fly directly over your head within what felt like touching distance!
We sailed into the Bay of Gibraltar, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean. To the south you could see Morocco in Africa. When you turned around you had stunning views of the Rock of Gibraltar, as well as the expansive coastline of Spain. I have to mention the number of cargo vessels that sail through the bay … it’s a bit like a motorway for large ships! My son was fascinated with them all – looking out the plane window as we came in to land a couple of days earlier, he commented that it looked like the Battleships board game with lots of ships in different positions!
Out at sea it was far from flat calm. Of course I was totally unprepared for wet or cold as I’d only packed a cardigan! We did get wet and a bit cold because the wind had got up … but at any time I could have moved and sat inside the sheltered cabin. Of course I couldn’t though because Millie-Mae and Toby LOVED getting splashed and blown around, and I couldn’t leave them. And anyway, I didn’t want to miss spotting a dolphin! Had I persuaded them inside, we’d have found cushioned seating, brilliant observation lounge with space to move around, live commentary, refreshments, toilet facilities (and you’d be dry and warm).
Put it this way, if I was a dolphin I certainly wouldn’t have felt like putting on a show for a boat of humans that day … I’d be out of the current having a quiet chillax somewhere! And I’m afraid that did appear to be the case with the many, many dolphins that live in the Bay. Dolphin Safari have a 99% success rate of seeing dolphins, but they are wild animals and they didn’t want to play on the day we went to see them. During the months of March and April the ‘spotting rate’ drops to around 70%, and our trip was on the 8th April.
It was disappointing, of course, but in no means reflective of a poor experience as the crew went out of their way to try and find us dolphins – staying out longer than planned and venturing into the Straits of Gibraltar too, just in case. But it was the weather that was against us, unfortunately. However I must reiterate that the kids absolutely loved it. They were drenched to the skin, laughed for the entire trip as waves crashed over them and played some kind of ‘pirates on the high seas’ role play game throughout.
Once back at the marina we were given free tickets for a second trip, which was a really nice gesture. We didn’t get time to use them as we flew home the following day, but we will return (in nicer weather!)
On a good day () you could be lucky enough to see:
- Common dolphins
- Bottlenose dolphins
- Striped dolphins
- Pilot whales
- Sperm whales
- Minke whales
- Killer whales
- Sea turtles
- Jelly fish
- Flying fish
- Shoals of sardines and anchovies
… so definitely worth booking a trip in my opinion.
If you visit Gibraltar, definitely look up Dolphin Safari. It’s a huge amount of fun and I’m sure you’ll most definitely see dolphins. But – take a waterproof coat, just in case 🙂
Disclaimer for Gibraltar: Taking to the High Seas on a Dolphin Safari
PackThePJs received discounted tickets in return for a review of our experience. Our thoughts and opinions are our own and have not been influenced in any way.