Day 6. Paddle boarding & dolphin watching in Gibraltar

It was such a warm morning that we were pleased to find tables had been laid for breakfast on the sun bathed terrace, which was such a delight during the winter and definitely the nicest possible way to start the day.

Breakfast on the terrace of the Rock Hotel, Gibraltar
Enjoying breakfast on the terrace

After feeling recharged with an extra croissant and more coffee we headed to Sandy Bay, one of the prettiest beaches located on the east side of Gibraltar.  A big advantage of the territory being so small is that nowhere is far away and everywhere is easily accessible.

In2Adventures, Sandy Bay, Gibraltar
In2Adventures at Sandy Bay

After the previous day’s adrenalin fix of e-biking around the Rock, there was more adventure to be had on the calm waters of Sandy Bay in the form of paddle boarding with In2Adventures.  Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is a sort of cross between surfing and canoeing, you take a board into the water, stand up on it and use a single oar to propel yourself along.  Sounds easy doesn’t it!  Neither of us had tried it before and Simon was up for the challenge.

Paddle boarding at In2Adventures Gibraltar
Starting off in a kneeling position

Tom Cawthorn, the founder of In2Adventures made us feel very welcome and after a brief induction learning the basics and correct techniques on the beach, soon had Simon out on the water.

Stand up Paddle Boarding with In2Adventures in Gibraltar
Standing up and balancing on the board

The idea is to start in a kneeling position and after getting the feel for the board and paddling move to a standing position.  With guidance from Tom, Simon was standing up and paddling confidently after a few minutes, floating in the shadow of the world’s most famous Rock.

Paddle boarding at Sandy Bay Gibraltar
Paddle boarding in the shadow of the Rock

It’s an idyllic place to paddle as the bay is sheltered and safe for beginners, with more experienced paddle boarders being able to take part in SUP safaris around the Rock.  It was hard to get Simon off the water at the end of his two hour lesson as he loved the experience so much and with encouragement from Tom had developed his skills and balance on the board.

In2Adventures SUP Lesson in Gibraltar
Enjoying the paddle boarding experience

Tom and the rest of the team at In2Adventures were very friendly and went out of their way to ensure everyone enjoyed the experience whatever their age or level of expertise.  When we’re back in Gibraltar I’m sure I’ll also be up for the challenge and not just spectating from the beach!

Aircraft landing, Eastern Beach, Gibraltar
Watching a plane coming in to land at Eastern Beach

Not far from Sandy Bay lies Eastern Beach, the largest of Gibraltar’s sandy beaches on the Mediterranean coastline and we popped into the beach bar there for a coffee.  It felt lovely to be sitting out in the warm sunshine looking out on the azure blue Mediterranean Sea.  As the beach extends out to the airport runway, it’s a great place for plane spotters and in the short time we were there, we watched two planes come into land.

Dolphin Adventures, Gibraltar
Dolphin Adventures catamaran at Ocean Village

Back in town, we made our way to Ocean Village for a 90 minute boat trip with Dolphin Adventures, Gibraltar is renowned for its ever present population of wild dolphins and is one of the best places in the world for sightings.  We boarded one of their bright yellow catamarans and enjoyed feeling the sun’s rays as we motored out of the harbour heading out to sea.

Dolphins spotted in the Strait of Gibraltar
Some of the dolphins we spotted on the boat trip

As a responsible dolphin watching company, boats stop their engines approximately 60 metres from the dolphins so as not to disturb the pods but as dolphins are naturally inquisitive they like to approach the boat for all to see.  The specially designed viewing boats can cater for up to 70 passengers allowing ample space for everyone to view the marine life from the deck.

Dolphins in the Bay of Gibraltar
Dolphins approaching the tour boat

I couldn’t believe the number of dolphins we spotted with ease and in the very unlikely event that you don’t manage to see any, a complimentary second viewing trip is offered to ticket holders.  Taking the tour was an opportunity to view these amazing mammals up close as well as providing spectacular views of the Rock of Gibraltar and the Spanish coastline from the water.

Dolphins jumping out of the water in GIbraltar
A pair of dolphins jumping out of the water

In addition to viewing the dolphins we learnt a great deal about them too as we enjoyed an informative live commentary from our guide, a marine biologist.  She explained that dolphins are very sociable with family groups ranging from single figures to several hundred all living and working together to gather food.

On the dolphin watching trip in Gibraltar
On the tour boat views of the Rock behind

The species mainly found in Gibraltar are the Bottlenose, Common and the Striped dolphin and it was fascinating to see the dolphins wild at sea.  They can stay under water as long as 8 minutes without surfacing to take a breath and then come to the surface to blow old air out of their lungs.  This creates the plumes of spray we are familiar with before they suck in some fresh air.  The blowhole seals immediately after breathing to prevent water entering the lungs.

Boat re-fuelling in the Bay of Gibraltar
Boat refuelling in the bay

Returning back to shore, there were breathtaking views of Ocean Village with the backdrop of the famous Rock.  We also passed large container ships being refuelled by means of bunkering.

The Rock of Gibraltar viewed from out in the bay
Stunning views of the Rock of Gibraltar from the bay

Our dolphin watching trip had been splendid and I couldn’t believe how may dolphins we had come across on the tour.  Like most people, I was aware of Gibraltar being famous for its monkeys but before our visit I had scant knowledge of their large population of dolphins.

Champagne Afternoon Tea at the Rock Hotel, Gibraltar
Champagne afternoon tea at the Rock Hotel

Yet another treat was in store for us, as to round off our afternoon we returned to the historic Rock Hotel to partake in the time honoured tradition of afternoon tea on the hotel’s Wisteria Terrace.  The weather was perfect, views across the bay sublime and our afternoon tea absolutely delightful.  We relaxed sipping champagne before indulging in some dainty double decker finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve followed by a selection of cakes and pots of tea.

Champagne on the Wisteria Terrace of the Rock Hotel Gibraltar
Champagne on the Wisteria Terrace

It was just as well that we hadn’t had time for lunch as we were offered such an irresistible spread which we needed to do justice to.  Afternoon tea is available either out on the terrace or in the restaurant, served daily between 4.00-6.00 p.m. and comes highly recommended as a special treat, more details can be found here.

Queensway Quay, Gibraltar
Queensway Quay, Gibraltar

After dark we went down into town for a stroll along the waterfront at Queensway Quay where we’d enjoyed lunch on our first day.  It looked very different at night but equally beautiful being able to see the twinkling lights from the bars and restaurants reflecting on the water.  A perfect end to yet another memorable day in Gibraltar.

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68 thoughts on “Day 6. Paddle boarding & dolphin watching in Gibraltar

  1. Pingback: Day 6. Paddle boarding & dolphin watching in Gibraltar – Daily News Made Simple

  2. I agree with you that it’s so important to choose a responsible company for any kind of wildlife spotting trips. Incredible how many dolphins swam around, must have been an amazing experience. What a way to finish the day off with the champagne afternoon tea.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Reena Deshmukh

    Stunning views and … definitely sailing beside the dolphins would have been fun. And, surfing would have been really adventurous.
    You had a great time I guess, plus that view from the terrace, was amazing.
    Gibraltar has so much to tour, more than a weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow! How early did you wake up? Breakfast looks a bit dark to be had…very lovely you got to see plenty of dolphins, especially up close and personal! And that champagne afternoon tea looks delightful; I miss afternoon tea dearly! Glad you had another wonderful in Gibraltar; I can’t wait to hear more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We ate breakfast at around 8.30 each morning. Because Gibraltar is so far west in its time zone it gets light quite late but of course this was a bonus later in the day as it was light until around 6.00 p.m. The dolphin watching trip was awesome and such a delightful setting out in the bay. As a special treat there’s nothing like afternoon tea is there, so dainty and quintessentially English. Thanks for your ever welcome thoughts Rebecca, take care M.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Always nice to see dolphins and/or whales on these tours. Those cakes and bickies look delicious. With an afternoon tea, who needs supper? Gibraltar certainly has a lot to offer in such a small space. Thanks for sharing Marion. Allan

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It was a great day and if I’d known the sea was going to be so calm I would have taken my swimming things along and had a go. Hopefully there’ll be another opportunity! The dolphins and the afternoon tea were splendid too and no, we didn’t need any supper! Take care, Marion

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Gorgeous pictures as always – I love paddle boarding, and the idea of doing it so close to natural dolphin populations (even though you saw them from the boat) must have been so cool! Keep it coming, the Rock still looks incredible!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I have high respect for people who can paddle and with great skill of balance! Gilbraltar looked nice, quiet and dreamy.And the dolphinsss…I think allof us should have a close up encounter like that out in the sea. Mine is only from a Zoo in Nürnberg where we saw a Dolphin show and we were allowed to pat them.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Sounds like a fun day by and on the water. I’ve tried surfing before and am no stranger to canoeing, but I have yet to try stand-up paddle boarding. Glad you were able to see so many dolphins on your boat tour. I love how playful and curious they are.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s wonderful how the dolphins are so inquisitive and approach the boat. I’ve never seen so many on a trip before. Next time I’m going to try paddle boarding and kneel on the board to get around. I’m sure it will be fun! Thanks for commenting. We had heavy snowfalls overnight so it all looks lovely this morning.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. jasonlikestotravel

    Another enjoyable read and enjoyable day too by the looks of it! It’s nice to know there are so many dolphins in the area that makes a boat tour worthwhile doing 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Definitely Jason! I’ve been on dolphin watching tours in the past and not seen any! If it’s flat calm I’m going to try paddle boarding myself next time but will probably just stick to kneeling! Have you ever tried it or would consider paddle boarding?

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Seems like quite a day on the waters Marion! Love the captures and the paddle boarding seems like quite an adventure, m not surprised at Simon getting glued to it. Dolphins and a delectable spread sure added in making your day and a beautifully written post!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I understand your enthusiasm for dolphins, you have had the chance to see them up close and learn interesting things about them. In addition there must be the excitement of having sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar.

    Liked by 3 people

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