Whale & Dolphin Watching in the Azores
Discover one of Europe’s top destinations for whale watching
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Leisurely
Group Size Small Group
Azores is a true paradise for nature lovers with blue lakes smothered in flowers, deep verdant craters of dormant volcanoes and breathtaking landscapes from the mountains. Each island of the Azores is home to a myriad of cultures and traditions that will leave a lasting memory. Our itinerary includes some excellent opportunities to see whales and dolphins off the coast of three islands in the archipelago of Azores and we learn about various conservation projects from the knowledgeable locals. During out time on Faial Island, we also have the opportunity to learn more about the various bird species attracted to this island thanks to its diverse landscape formed from volcanic activity. Finally we end our experience on the ‘Green Island’, or Sao Miguel, where lush colours of verdant pastures surround us on our visits to renowned Sete Cidades Crater and Fire Lakes.
* All breakfasts and 5 lunches
* All accommodation
* Tour leader throughout
* Airport transfers (at designated times) and internal flights (for all clients, including land only)
*Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 years
- Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)
- Spectacular varied scenery
- Whale and dolphin watching tours included
- Visit Sete Cidades Crater Lakes and Fire Lake
- Excellent bird watching opportunities
- Greater changes of Blue whale sightings in June
Start Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel Island.
Start Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel Island.**
Morning whale watching excursion; transfer to Furnas Valley to visit hot springs.
The Azores are currently one of the world’s largest whale sanctuaries hosting more than 20 different types of resident and migrant species. We start the week off with a morning whale watching excursion offering the chance to spot whales and dolphins on our boat journey down to the south coast of the island. We arrive in Ribeira Quente, a fisherman’s village and transfer to Furnas Valley by bus where we enjoy a spectacular meal of the famous Cozido das Caldeiras. This is a style of cooking that buries sealed pots in the baking earth. After lunch, we take in the sights of romantic lakes, winding pathways, exotic flowers and thermal waters in Park Terra Nostra, before continuing onto the hot springs. One of the most spectacular forms of volcanic activity we see here are fumaroles, which spout boiling water and medicinal mud. We return to Ponta Delgada and stop en route at the tea plantations of Gorreana where we visit the tea factory and taste the local black and green teas. Overnight in Ponta Delgada.
Fly to Pico; boat to Faial Island and transfer to Horta; visit Scrimshaw Museum.
After breakfast we transfer to the airport for a short flight to Pico Island. After trasferring to Maddalena, we explore the charismatic village and have lunch in a local restaurant. We continue to Faial by ferry (approx. 30 mins). Faial is also known as the Blue Island thanks to all the blue hydrangeas that decorate the houses, divide the fields and line the roadsides. After checking in at our hotel, we enjoy a guided tour around Horta boasting a picturesque marina, primary stop for yachts crossing the Atlantic, and buildings covered with colourful paintings. In the afternoon we visit the Scrimshaw Museum and its impressive collection of engraved whales’ teeth and bones originating from the times when whaling in the Azores was still common practice. We conclude the sightseeing with a visit to Peter’s Cafe Sport, the Azores’ most famous pub which has been opened since 1918.
Whale and dolphin watching between Faial and Pico Islands.
Today we embark on our whale and dolphin watching tour between the Faial and Pico Islands. There are 80 species of whales and dolphins on the planet and 25 of them have been sighted off the coast of the Azores, with the most common being Sperm whale, Bottlenose dolphin, Short-finned pilot whale; Atlantic spotted dolphin and the Blue whale. During our excursion, we observe the behaviour of these cetaceans and learn more about their habitat with the help of the knowledgeable local experts on board. We should always respect their environment and therefore during times of feeding or resting, we avoid any interference and maintain our distance. Please note this activity is completely dependent on sea conditions and if we cannot reschedule the tour, then an alternative visit to the vineyards of Pico Island will be offered.
Birdwatching around the coast of Faial Island to observe land and sea birds.
Enjoy a full day visiting the beautiful land and sea of Faial Island – its fascinating islets, unusual rock formations from volcanic activity, picturesque windmills and lush green pastures offer an incredible variety of landscapes. Along the coast, we have a superb mix of land and seabirds to observe in their natural habitat, such as Tern Pink and nests of Seagulls in the Capelinhos Volcano as well as Shearwater and Bat, which are endemic to the Azores. We return to Horta for a short briefing from the University of the Azores on the ecology and conservation of various species of seabirds. In the evening you may decide to join an optional night walk down to the coast to hear some spectacular sounds from the Shearwater. These are nocturnal seabirds who come to the coast simply to breed and on their night-time visits, they often give eerie contact calls as they nest in burrows and lay their single white egg.
Free day; optional whale watching or swimming with dolphins; fly to Sao Miguel Island.
As Pico Island is only a short ferry trip from Horta, it is an excellent option for our free day. Due to its geological age, this island is considered the ’wildest’ island in the Azores archipelago. With UNESCO declaring the exotic vineyards (that grow on rock) as a World Heritage Site, beaches that are called natural swimming pools and former whaling villages, there is a completely different character for us to discover here. Perhaps others may prefer to head back to sea for an extra whale watching excursion or swimming with dolphins. There is also the opportunity to join the zodiac boat and go snorkelling. There is always a biologist and skipper on board to ensure every precaution is taken to protect the dolphin’s habitat. In the afternoon we take a short flight back to Sao Miguel Island. Please note that choice of activities on the free day will be dependent on flight times.
Visit the crater lakes of Sete Cidades and the Fire Lake.
There is some free time in the morning before heading out on our final adventure to explore the beauty of Sao Miguel island. Our 4WD excursion takes us through ravines and near volcano craters where we enjoy the wonderful landscape around Sete Cidades Volcano, including the Green and Blue Lakes. From Vista do Rei, we are rewarded with breathtaking views of tranquil lakes, blue hydrangeas bordering the crater rim that contrast with the steep sides of the crater. We then venture into this extinct volcano to visit the pretty village of Sete Cidades with its traditional architecture and verdant pastures. You may opt to to swim in the warm waters of Ferraria or Caldeira Velha (pool formed from a geyser). Our final treat is the Fire Lake in Barrosa Mountain, an enormous lake with jutting peninsulas and white sand beaches which is the perfect place to relax at the end of the day.
End Ponta Delgada.
End Ponta Delgada.
3 and 4-star hotels
In Sao Miguel we usually stay at the 3-star NEAT Hotel Avenida. The accommodation is conveniently located in the historic centre of Ponta Delgada and the rooms feature a flat-screen TV with cable channels and a private bathroom. Rooms usually include a desk and a sitting area.
In Faial we stay at the 4-star Hotel Horta, located on the picturesque ocean front of Horta with great views of Pico Island. It features rooms with balconies, a large garden and an outdoor pool.
All breakfasts and 5 lunches are included.
Breakfasts are buffet style with a variety on offer including bread, jams cereals, and of course tea and coffee. For lunch, we usually enjoy a set menu with drinks included, except for day 4 where a picnic is provided. In the evening, the leader will recommend local restaurants that serve traditional Azores food, which can be a selection of meat or fish with vegetables and potatoes or rice. Vegetarians are well catered for in Azores as long as the hotels are advised in advance.
This tour is graded ‘Leisurely’ and includes two whale and dolphin watching tours, an excursion through the wilderness of Faial Island and visits to Sao Miguel Island’s famous Sete Cidades and Fire Lake by 4WD. We visit three islands of the Azores archipelago, with the option to spend more time on Pico on the free day. With the Azores’ extinct volcano craters, wild landscapes covered in blue hydrangeas and stunning coastal cliffs, plenty of stops will be included so there is enough time to take the best photographs or simply admire the views. There will be some walking which is not technically difficult and should not present difficulties for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.The whale and dolphin watching excursions are not recommended for pregnant ladies or those with heart or back problems. As they depend completely on sea condition, the excursions can therefore never be guaranteed yet alternative activities will be offered. We will amend the itinerary over the week in order to provide the best chances to see whales and dolphins and if sea conditions remain the same for the duration of the week, we will instead offer a tour of Pico Island. The area is also subject to rain at any time so it is best to be prepared for this before you travel. On departures in May and October, it is best to bring warm clothes in case of colder weather.