Dolphins of Setubal

Setubal is famous for its dolphins that live within the Sado estuary. The pod of approximately 22 bottlenose dolphins is routinely spotted swimming, hunting or playing in the waters surrounding Setubal. One of the more popular activities, unique to Setubal, is to join a half day boat tour and go dolphin spotting. Dolphin spotting tours are notoriously unpredictable; some trips will have multiple encounters, while others will not.

fishing fleet  Setubal

The colourful fishing fleet of Setubal

Setubal Dolphin Tours Information

There are three tour companies which offer the dolphin sightsee tour which typically last 3 hours. Each company has two departures per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Nautur ( operate a standard ferry and tours cost €27.50/€ 17.50 (adult/child).

Vertigemazu ( offer a slightly more refined and eco-friendly trip that costs €30/€20, €35/€20 (adult/child low/high season) while Troia Cruze ( provide the tour on restored and traditional sailing boat – this is the most appealing method to go dolphin spotting but is the most expensive at €45.

Further Information about Setubal Dolphins

It is rare to view Setubal’s dolphins from the harbour but there are numerous boat cruises/tours available to spend an afternoon searching for them. The pod has taken up residence in the Sado estuary as there is an abundant supply of food, especially squid, and the waters provide shelter from the Atlantic Ocean.


There was a decline in dolphin numbers but the group has been successfully breeding and the local government has made a conscious effort to limit pollution, over fishing and harassment of them in the Reserva Natural do Estuário do Sado.

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