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Dolphin Watching

SKU: B001
Boat trip in the waters of Sesimbra and Setúbal to watch dolphins. An experience that provides unforgettable moments.
Schedule Activity description Info FAQ





9:30 am Check-in at Bolhas Tours Marine Center
10:00 am Departure from Sesimbra's harbour
1:00 pm Return to the Sesimbra's harbour and check-out


2:00 pm Check-in at Bolhas Tours Marine Center
2:30 pm Departure from Sesimbra's harbour
5:30 pm Return to the Sesimbra's harbour and check-out


Activity Description


- Check-in at Bolhas Tours Marine Center

- Presentation of staff and guides and safety briefing

- Depart to the boarding platform and board

- Briefing about the dolphin watching tour experience

- Sightings of the dolphin/whales and follow the identified pods according to the code of conduct for dolphin watching best practices followed by scientific explanations

- Boat tour along the coast of the Professor Luiz Saldanha Marine Park, in the area between the Sado estuary and Cabo Espichel to visit secluded spots

- On return, anchor in a sheltered bay to enjoy refreshing dives in one of the many magnificent bays of Sesimbra's Coast

- Return to the Sesimbra Harbor

- Check-out at Bolhas Tours nautical center and end of the activity

- Minimum number of participants: 6

- For other schedules contact info@bolhastours.com


  • Boat rental with crew
  • Insurance for all participants
  • Life vests
  • Biologist guide


  • Snorkeling goggles
  • Regional wine
  • Water

Daily transfer Lisbon/Sesimbra/Lisbon: from 29€ per person

Useful advices

Sunscreen, comfortable shoes and bathing suit.


Dolphin Watching - Cruises in Sesimbra and Setubal



Join us on this marine expedition with expert biologists and guides. Witness the wonders of these graceful creatures up close and personal. Since 2013, we have proudly maintained a 100% sucess rate in spotting many species of dolphins.


Visit us! The center has educational resources, a reception area, souvenir shop and free wifi. After checking in prepare to explore the Arrábida's seas with all confort in our safe and confortable boats with our seasoned crew and biologists in this dolphin watching tour.


Dive into a fin-tastic escapade and participate with our team to collect data on our favorite ocean friends: dolphins and whales. A truly educational experience for all audiences specially children.


This boat excursions to visit the dolphins and many other cetaceans species are held in the protected area of the Professor Luiz Saldanha Marine Park.

This protected area has the ideal conditions for spotting various species of marine mammals, like bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus) and common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) as well the pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus), minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), and orcas (Orcinus orca) - species also often sighted on our dolphin and whale watching tours.


Join us any time of the year to witness these intelligent beings in their natural habitats, as our guides navigate the waters for unforgettable encounters in the wild.

Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)

Common dolphins as their name suggests are one of the most widespread dolphin species in the world. They can be spotted in both warm and cool waters of the Atlantic along the Portuguese Coast, in the Pacific and Indian Oceans as well as in the Mediterranean Sea.

They are characterized by their sleek and slender bodies, with a light grey color on the sides and a creamy white underbelly. They have a distinctive hourglass pattern on their flanks, with a black dorsal fin and black flipper tips.

They are highly social animals often swimming in groups of up to several hundred individuals.

The common dolphins are also known for their acrobatic displays frequently leaping out of the water and riding the waves created by boats.

Common dolphins are fast swimmers and are capable of reaching speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour. They are also skilled hunters, feeding on a variety of fish, squid, and crustaceans, using echolocation to locate their prey.

Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

Bottlenose dolphins are a species of marine mammals well-known for their friendly and curious nature, as well as their intelligence and agility. These dolphins are easily recognizable by their signature elongated snouts or "bottlenoses," and their grayish-blue skin.

They are highly social animals and are often found swimming in pods that can range in size from just a few individuals to hundreds. They are also known for their playful behavior often leaping out of the water riding waves and interacting with boats and humans.

Along the Arrábida coast of Sesimbra several groups of bottlenose cruise the protected maritime area of Professor Luiz Saldanha reserve on a daily base looking for they favorite preys. Bottlenose dolphins are carnivores feeding on a variety of fish, squid, and crustaceans.

They use echolocation, a biological sonar system, to locate prey and navigate their surroundings.

Killer whale (Orcinus orca)

Killer whales, also known as orcas, are the largest members of the dolphin family.

These majestic animals are easily recognized by their black and white coloration, with a distinctive white patch above their eyes and a gray saddle patch behind their dorsal fin. The males can measure up to 10 meters in length and weigh up to 10 tons. The females are smaller, reaching 8.5 meters and weighing between 6 to 8 tons.

Killer whales are highly intelligent and social animals, living in pods that can range from a few individuals to over 100.

They are a versatile super predator, with a diverse diet that can include fish, squid, sea birds, and even other marine mammals like seals, dolphins, and whales.

They are also known for their impressive hunting tactics, which can involve cooperative strategies and deliberate beaching to catch prey. This super predator feeds on pelagic fish, like bluefin tuna, that by this time are quite abundant in the sea of the coast of Sesimbra.

From september to october sightings of killer whale on the coast of Sesimbra are common. During this period, the iberian killer whales lead to Mediterranean and head to the north of Spain and Biscay Golf, passing near to the cape at the western point of Sesimbra.

Pilot whale (Globicephala melas)

Pilot whales are a species of toothed whale found in oceans around the world.

They are social animals, living in pods of up to several hundred individuals, and are known for their strong social bonds and complex communication.

Pilot whales have a distinctive appearance, with a bulbous head, sleek black or dark grey body, and long, pointed flippers.

They are carnivores, feeding primarily on squid and fish, and have been known to dive to depths of up to 600 meters in search of prey.

The pilot whale occurs in the temperate waters of the Atlantic with a special incidence of sightings along the latitudes of the tropic of cancer. Its distribution and movements seem to be closely related to the location of its prey. They are extremely sociable animals, showing a gregarious behavior.

In Portugal, it is possible to observe this cetacean in the waters of Sesimbra, especially in the period between september and november in the area of Cabo Espichel and south of the Arrábida Coast.

Minky whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)

Minky whales are one of the smallest of the rorqual whales, with adult males typically reaching lengths of about 10 meters and females slightly larger at 11 meters. They are known for their sleek, streamlined bodies and pointed snouts. Minky whales are also recognized by their dark grey or black bodies, with a white underbelly and distinctive white band on their flippers.

Like other baleen whales, they feed on small crustaceans, plankton, and small fish, such as sardines and herring, by filtering seawater through their baleen plates.

These species of cetaceans is migratory, traveling between colder feeding grounds in the summer and warmer breeding grounds in the winter. It is often spotted near the surface of the water, but can also dive to depths of over 500 meters when searching for food.

These small whales are found in Portugal and can be observed regularly in the sea of Sesimbra, throughout the year, with greater occurrence in the summer months.

Sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis)

Characterized by its sleek and slender body, the sei whale is the third-largest baleen whale, following the blue whale and the fin whale. With a distinct dorsal fin and a series of throat grooves that expand when feeding, sei whales are equipped for efficient filter-feeding on small fish and krill. Their coloring is typically dark gray or black on the back, gradually lightening towards the belly.

Sei whales are predominantly skim feeders, swimming close to the surface with mouths open and throat pleats extended to skim large quantities of plankton form the water and filter it through their baleen plates. Their preferred prey is tiny planktonic crustaceans called copepods, but they are also known to feed on krill or small shoaling fish.

The presence of sei whales in Sesimbra can be attributed to the region's favorable conditions, including nutrient-rich waters that support a diverse marine ecosystem. These whales are known for their migratory behavior, often traveling great distances between feeding and breeding grounds.

Sesimbra becomes a crucial waypoint during the summertime, offering a unique opportunity for costumers to see this beautiful whale.

Fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus)

Measuring up to 27 meters in length, fin whales are the second largest whale in the world, after the blue whale. Their bodies are characterized by a sleek, elongated shape, and they exhibit a mottled coloration on their back, ranging from dark gray to brownish-gray. Their underbellies tend to be lighter in color, a contrast that aids in camouflage while swimming in the vast expanses of the ocean.

The enormous mouth of the fin whale is equipped with baleen plates, which the whale uses to filter out small schooling fish and krill from the water as it engulfs massive quantities in a single gulp.

Its known for its swimming speed, swimming at an average of 9 to 15 km/h, although it can reach an incredible 37 km/h for short periods.

The fin whale is distributed throughout the oceans, migrating to tropical and subtropical latitudes to breed. It can be seen alone or in small groups of 2 to 7 individuals, and can be found in aggregations of up to 100 individuals in highly productive areas.

In Sesimbra it can be seen during the summer, with a higher incidence in July and August.


Bolhas Tours is duly licensed by the Portuguese Nature and Forest Institute (ICNF) under licence number AOC/30/2023-26, which authorizes the company to engage in touristic operations with the objective of observing cetaceans in the waters of the Professor Luiz Saldanha Marine Park in the Arrábida region, in accordance with the most rigorous global standards.

By recording and reporting the daily cetacean observations, all participants are contributing to the advancement of scientific knowledge about these species.


By adhering to the legislation and the norms set forth in the conduct code for dolphin and whale watching, participants select a company that, in its regular dolphin watching operations in Sesimbra, plays a role in the conservation of the species' natural behaviour, thereby reducing the stress levels experienced by the animals, which can be particularly detrimental to the calves during their developmental stages.


A warm welcome to one of the most outstanding locations in the country, teeming with marine life and situated just 30 kilometres from Lisbon. Here in Sesimbra and Arrábida region it is possible that you may have the privilege of observing not only dolphins but also whales, which are majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

Should you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team is eager to assist you in planning an unforgettable dolphin watching trip in Sesimbra.




1. Does this boat trip take place all year round?

Yes, Bolhas Tours runs dolphin watching tours all year round.

Sesimbra is protected by the imposing Arrábida mountain range, which shelters its large bay and coastline from the Atlantic winds, thus allowing unique conditions in Portugal for dolphin and whale watching in calm seas.

2. Is it always possible to see dolphins or whales on this boat trip?

Yes, Bolhas Tours has a 100% success rate on its dolphin watching trips all year round, one of the highest success rates in the world.

Whales, especially fin whales and Minke whales, are mostly seen off the coast between Sesimbra and Cape Espichel in the summer and early fall months between July and October, with August being the month with the highest number of whale sightings.

3. What type of boat was used on this tour?

The boats used on this tour are semi-rigid boats that allow you to sail the high seas in total safety and comfort. With individual seats for up to 18 participants, they have ladders to access the water, a sound system and a shaded area in the back seats.

Because of their safety in all types of weather, they are used worldwide in all oceans and latitudes for dolphin and whale watching, and in various maritime activities such as search and rescue, coastal control and patrol or port work. The crew is made up of a biologist guide and a skipper, both of whom hold a license to maneuver tourist boats on the high seas.

4. Is there always a swim stop after dolphin watching?

Yes, there is usually enough time to make a stop for swimming and snorkeling. However, as these are wild animals, it can occasionally be necessary to spend a large part of the 3-hour tour meeting the dolphins, especially in the winter months, returning to the port at the stipulated time.

Also on colder days, a coastal tour to visit Sesimbra's beaches and bays is offered instead of a stop for diving; if any participants still want to swim in a bay, they just have to ask the guide accompanying them.

5. The program description states that the tour is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. in the morning. Can I arrive at the Bolhas Tours marine center at that time to check in?

The departure time shown in the program is the time of embarkation for the trip out to sea. You must check in at the marine center at least 30 minutes in advance (by 09.30) in order to make payments, attend the safety and dolphin-watching briefing, put on your little ones' vests and use the bathroom if necessary.

In the event of a customer being late, an exceptional waiting period of 15 minutes is given beyond the departure time stipulated in the program. If the client does not show up during this period, the boat with the participants leaves for the tour. There is no refund (no-show).

6. I want to do the dolphin watching tour, but I don't have a wind jacket, can I rent one when I check in?

Bolhas Tours has free windbreaker to lend out during the tour if needed.

7. Is there parking near the Bolhas Tours Marine Center?

Yes, the area of Porto de Abrigo (harbor) where the center is located is a free parking area.

8. I'm on vacation and I don't have a car. How do I get to Sesimbra from Lisbon?

You can contact Bolhas Tours for transportation - available for groups of more than 6 participants and by budget, or by Uber-type apps, with an average cost per journey of €29 for up to 4/6(XL) people between Lisbon and the Bolhas Tours marine center in Sesimbra.

9. If the tour is canceled due to adverse sea conditions, what happens to the amount already paid, is it refunded?

Yes, whenever sea conditions prevent the dolphin watching tour from taking place, a full refund will be made to the client within a maximum of 48 hours, without any penalty or cancellation fee.

10. We are schedule to do the tour on the last day of our stay in Sesimbra, can we store the luggage at the Bolhas Tours marine center while we do the dolphin watching tour?

Yes, you can leave your bags and luggage at our nautical center.