The sun was shining when we arrived at Marina da Calheta. It was 9 in the morning and the pleasant atmosphere of this town combined with a deep blue sea. It looked like a postcard from paradise, and we were in the middle of Europe…
We were greeted with a big smile by Donnovan, from the on-shore sightseeing company – On Tales. After a brief introduction, Donnovan explained to us the details of the trip that was about to take place. We depart from Calheta Marina at 9:30 am aboard a nice yacht named Miranda. The name of the boat comes from Latin -“lovely” or “wonderful”, and this is the experience you are looking for on this trip.
The yacht has the ideal size as well as all the equipment needed for a unique and comfortable trip. In addition to a lounge with sofas, it has a bathroom, shower, free fresh drinks on board (mineral water, ice tea, fruit juice, soft drinks and beer), as well as a cabin where we store our belongings. They also provide body wipes, hair towels, fins, glasses and respirators, and blankets (if it is cold).
The crew, composed of Skipper Cristiano and biologist Tiago, welcomed us aboard, and carefully explained the safety measures. They also explained the expected route for the trip, which lasts about 2.5 hours. We set sail from the marina towards the horizon and to meet the cetaceans. High above sea level and at an onshore observation post, an On Tales observer was directing the boat towards a group of whales. Throughout the trip, Tiago and Cristiano were always available to answer any questions, and they also served us drinks and told stories of various experiences with whales. We feel quite cherished.
Did you know that sperm whales sleep in the upright position?
- – It was just one of many curiosities that we were told during this trip.
Graced by a blue sky and the rhythm of the waves, we had the opportunity to see several families of pilot whales of various sizes. We even saw a calve with its mother – a memorable experience!
We also got to know the most common cetacean species in Madeira. The island is a safe haven and a refueling station for many marine species on their transatlantic crossing. As Cristiano explained to us, Madeira voluntarily stopped whaling before the official ban came in 1986. Currently, cetaceans seek these volcanic islands in the Atlantic to rest and feed. In total there are about 28 species of cetaceans that frequent Madeira. Some of them are more visible in summer, others in winter.
Madeira’s advantage over other islands is that all species are concentrated in one island. In addition, they are closer to the coastal zone. Other advantage of observing cetaceans in the municipality of Calheta, when compared to Funchal, is its sunnier climate. In this part of the island, there is also a smaller concentration of tourist companies in the marina, which makes the experience even more special.
We toured the entire area of Jardim do Mar and Madalena do Mar, which gave us an insight into the phenomenal coastline. We stopped at a beach for swimming and snorkeling in crystal clear waters. It was called Praia dos Namorados.
At the end of the trip we felt relaxed and with a smile on our faces. On Tales exceeded our expectations, gave us safety, experience and, above all, a rampant passion for the ocean and its wonderful creatures… a few hours after the trip we were even surprised by an online photo album about the trip.
Attention to detail, kindness, safety and comfort stood out during the trip with On Tales.
On Tales offers many types of activities, including sunset or private trips. They also organize romantic weddings / engagement requests on board. Professionalism, personal attention, respect for the environment and water have earned them some awards, such as the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and the Blue Flag in 2019. Its main clients are people looking for an affordable premium experience aboard a small yacht.
For more information, please visit the On Tales website.