We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Booked a boat trip on the promise that we might see dolphins or whales then spent hours staring across an empty ocean with just a few seabirds for company.
We have done this so many times, from Turkey to the Canaries and never seen so much as a fin.
But we’re suckers for a boat trip, or anything that gets us out on the sea, so the second day of our latest holiday found us on the harbour in Puerto de Mogan chatting to the cheerful man under the umbrella, who had no need of his sales pitch as we handed over our deposit.
Puerto de Mogan is a lovely place, the last major coastal town on the southern tip of Gran Canaria before you reach the mountains. It has a fishing harbour and a marina as well as a beautiful beach and bay and attractive little streets with colourful hanging bougainvillea. And of course, it has boat trips for every occasions, including a Yellow Submarine.
On the appointed day for our dolphin/whale hunt, just eight of us and two crew assembled on the marina to board the boat.
With not a cloud in the sky, Tenerife and Mount Teide rising out of a misty horizon to our right and the wide open seas before us, we anticipated a lovely day out – dolphins or no dolphins.
After an hour and a half at sea, it looked as if no dolphins would once again be the order of the day. The skipper had his binoculars glued to his eyes but all we had to keep us entertained as we sunbathed on deck were a few flying fish.
Then the boat changed direction – and there they were! First, we saw fins above the waves then, like a cavalry charge, they came and within seconds we were surrounded, dozens of sleek bodies speeding alongside and diving under the boat as it slowed.
If there was a particular “wow” moment among the many during the brilliant show these dolphins put on for us, it was the sight of three of them travelling line abreast then leaping out of the water like synchronised swimmers in competition.
More of them came, appearing out of the waves and – seemingly almost deliberately – blowing water at us as we leaned over the side for a closer look.
Backwards and forwards they swam for what must have been 15 to 20 minutes, treating us to a superb performance that can bring tears to my eyes when I recall it.
To see so many of these gorgeous, supremely elegant creatures in the wild but so close you could almost touch them was an experience we will never forget.
And needless to say, next time we are in any part of the world where boat trips to “see the dolphins” are on offer, we will be there, signing up – and hoping.