one of the best day trips you can take from lisbon is going to setubal to see the dolphin family.

we left the hotel in the morning with little information: i knew that in setubal you could see dolphins in their natural habitat and i had to do it!

we found the dolphin people on the shore, on a catamaran called esperanca: they were just coming back from the 9:30 tour. we were told to come back around 14:20 to catch the second tour of the day, the 14:30.

once on the boat, we went across to troia to pick some more passengers and then took a 3 1/2 h tour of the sado estuary. it was unbelievable!

pedro, our guide, patiently gave us all the details about the 28 strong family of bottleneck dolphins. he explained how we could recognize each of them by their dorsal fin. apparently, each fin is serrated in a unique way, just like human fingertips. well, even with all the info, i could not discern between the dolphins swimming along the boat, but i was able to recognize the smallest of the bunch: the 1-month old baby. very cute!

meeting the dolphin family was wonderful and done in a careful way: no feeding and no interaction.

after saying good bye to the dolphins, i spent the rest of the tour cocooned in a red blanket and chilling out in one of the nets as the boat took us along the arrabida coast. beaches and more beaches, sand dunes in the water – only accessible for birds or jet skiers.  if this was closer to home, i’d do it at least once a month: it was very relaxing.

so: go to setubal, find vertigem azul and go meet the dolphin family. it’s great value for money, very entertaining and relaxing and you can do it in all seasons. for more info and incredible pictures, find them here.

if you are better organized that we were, you can use the second part of the day to visit the neighboring sesimbra and perhaps cabo espichel.

photo credits: vertigem azul, lilaesthete