Swimming with wild dolphins in the Azores

“Your first time swimming with wild dolphins, you'll be overwhelmed. The second time, you'll be excited. And the third - you'll finally relax into their blissful marine world.”

Highlights

3 - 5 dolphin swimming excursions | Visit to 'vigia' lookout tower | Your photos used as part of ongoing research | Optional: Beach, hiking and nature walks, bird watching, jeep tour of island, botanical gardens, geothermal craters and geysers,

Description of Swimming with wild dolphins in the Azores

If you’ve ever dreamed of discovering the world of wild dolphins, then look no further than this holiday which takes you to swim with wild dolphins in the Azores. Strap on your mask and snorkel in these clear Atlantic waters, and encounter these curious and often playful marine mammals in their natural habitat. Their sounds, movements and gestures take you right into their underwater world, and with expert guidance from our aquatic rescue guides you’ll feel confident swimming with the dolphins in the Azores. We often see seven species of dolphin; sperm whale sightings are common too. You’ll soon learn which of the dolphin species are the most inquisitive.

You will be part of a small group while on the boat trips but are free to plan other activities in the Azores in between excursions, or just take time out for relaxation and reflection. We have diverse groups of families, friends and independent travellers joining us on these trips, and swimming with dolphins is a great way to meet new people.

The trip

You don’t need to be hugely fit to enjoy this holiday, but an average level of fitness – as well as a good swimming ability – is recommended to be able to enter the water from the boat and swim with dolphins in the Azores. Some experience of snorkelling would be helpful, but if not, the first day offers time to practice using your mask and snorkel, as well as to learn out “in-water encounter” procedures. These mean that when you do encounter dolphins in the water, you will feel more confident, skilled and have a greater understanding of their behaviour, meaning both you and the dolphins will be far more relaxed. All encounters are as sensitive and respectful as possible. This holiday is suitable for children as young as seven; the boats carry groups of eight people and we partner up to enter the water. Our guides keep an eye on the swimmers at all times, and the small group numbers cause minimal disturbance to the dolphins. We provide shorty wetsuits, masks and snorkels – you can bring your own fins or purchase them in the Azores if you prefer to swim with them.

Once in the water with the wild dolphins, you may be swimming with them or simply floating above the pods, observing their graceful movements in the clear water below. The bolder dolphins in the Azores may approach you – looking you in the eye, playing or swimming around you – a truly unforgettable experience.

Holiday duration

The prices and itinerary shown are based on a seven night stay (Saturday - Saturday), although you can add on extra days at the beginning or end if you wish. The quote includes three trips to swim with dolphins in the Azores, which is the minimum number of excursions we offer; we believe that one-off experiences put too much pressure on both passengers and dolphins and can result in less enjoyable experiences. Three or five trips are ideal over the course of a week.

What’s included:

- Three half-day trips to sea (3 hrs each).
- Seven nights in a 4* hotel, including buffet breakfast.
- The services of an expert British guide on the excursions and throughout the holiday
- Talks and audio visual presentations.
- A donation to the World Cetacean Alliance

Accommodation

Guests stay in a 4* hotel in a peaceful location just 10 minutes’ walk from the boat base. Rooms are en suite with gorgeous mountain and sea views, and facilities include indoor and outdoor pools as well as a gym, sauna and massage room. The Ponte Delgada botanical gardens are located nearby. Family discounts are available for children sharing with their parents, and the surrounding area offers plenty of superb restaurants, serving traditional Azorean, Portuguese and international dishes.

Other activities

Inland, the Azores offer just as much to enjoy as on the water, with thermal lakes, hiking trails, bird watching, walking tours, mountain biking and jeep tours all on offer – you can arrange these trips at our boat base. Or stay coastal with a day at the beach – swimming in the sea or kayaking. This holiday can be as active or relaxing as you wish.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:Transfer to the hotel from the airport, with time to settle in. If you arrive early enough, you can take a 10-minute stroll to the boat base to plan your schedule for the next few days, meet the team, and discover the surrounding area. The itinerary will vary depending on which tours and boat trips you book – below is a sample itinerary.
Day 2:Walk to the boat base for an assessment of your swimming and snorkelling ability; there will be time to practice if you wish. Guests will be given a safety briefing and learn about the protocol for boat approaches when swimming with dolphins in the Azores, as well as an audiovisual presentation about the many dolphin and whale species in the surrounding waters. After learning how to swim with the wild dolphins, you’ll head off to put what you’ve learned into practice with your first excursion to swim with these cetaceans.
Day 3:Morning excursion to swim with wild dolphins. Free time in the afternoon – maybe you’d like to practice snorkelling, or simply relax on the beach or by the pool.
Day 4:Third excursion to swim with dolphins in the Azores. This afternoon you could take a jeep tour of the island’s wild, volcanic scenery, go hiking or explore the famous spots that mark the island’s history.
Day 5:Fourth excursion to swim with dolphins. In the afternoon, take a tour of the island’s geysers and geothermal craters, and eat local dishes cooked underground using the natural thermals. You might choose to visit the botanical gardens near the hotel, or tour a vineyard and enjoy a wine tasting session.
Day 6:Fifth excursion to swim with dolphins. The whales around the Azores are spotted from lookout towers by Vigia – traditional lookouts who can see them from a distance of 30km. Take a trip to meet them this afternoon, and see what you can spot. Alternatively, look out for inland wildlife on a nature trail, or relax by the lagoon.
Day 7:Depending on your departure time there may be time for one last spot of shopping after breakfast. Transfer to airport for flight home.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Map

Check dates

Trip departs every Saturday in May through to the end of October
Our top tip:
Get some snorkelling practice in beforehand, at your local pool - or even in the bath!
Trip type:
Small group. Min. age 7.
Activity level:
Moderate - swimming and snorkelling in the sea.
Accomm:
4* hotel, family rooms available. Outdoor pool, gym, sauna.
Solos:
Solo travellers welcome. Single rooms available with surcharge.
Included:
Accomm., breakfasts, transfers, 3 or 5 dolphin trips, tour guide.
Meals:
Breakfast included. Many local/ international restaurants nearby.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Swimming with wild dolphins in the Azores

Environment

The way the boats approach the dolphins follow local regulations to protect the marine life. We only use licensed boat operators who are very sensitive to the well-being of the dolphins and whales. There is a good spirit of cooperation amongst the boat companies and agreements to respect the animals as a priority.

Research is ongoing on the boats, so these trips are helping to build our knowledge of these fantastic animals. Many of the skippers are professional photographers and maintain a comprehensive photo ID database, in particular sperm whales, bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales. The more we can learn about the whales and dolphins of the Azores the better we can understand things like their migrations and social structures. All this moves us closer to protecting them and the marine environment in a more knowledgeable, effective way.

Guests are encouraged to send in any photos they have taken on the dolphin swimming trips that can be used in the ongoing photo identification projects. Every trip has a huge emphasis on conservation and sustaining the marine environment so future generations may also have the privilege of seeing marine mammals in the wild.

Community

We only work with local suppliers who employ at least 80% local people which means financial benefits to families here. The land based lookouts whose immense skill at tracking the animals previously earned money from whaling now earn money from tourists - an enormous change that we are passionate about supporting. Many of their adult children now skipper the dolphin swimming boats and work within the small scale tourism.

Our dolphin swimming company offers presentations in local schools to educate the children about the marine life on their doorstep with an emphasis on conservation. They are also planning to host an Azorean Whale Festival to promote the islands as one of the key locations worldwide to see whales. The Dolphin and Whale Connection donates a percentage of it's profits to the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA), helping to protect whales and dolphins worldwide.

All the activities we recommend locally are run by Azoreans and are designed to maintain good relationships between visitors and the local people. For example, we sell and promote only local crafts to our guests to support local craft makers and artisans and to spread tourism income to many islanders. Our favourite restaurants are all run by Azorean people, and we do recommend that our visitors try the delicious local cuisine while supporting sustainable local fishermen in particular.

As well as swimming with dolphins and whale watching tours we offer geological and cultural tours hosted solely by experienced local guides with an in-depth knowledge of their island and its landscape. We support the local vineyards where guests can sample the fantastic Azorean wine and take these locally produced gifts back to people at home.

Reviews of Swimming with wild dolphins in the Azores

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 19 Aug 2016 by

Words cannot express the magic of swimming in amongst a pod of wild Bottlenose dolphins! Those moments will last a lifetime for me. Read full review

Reviewed on 26 Jun 2016 by

Swimming in the water near bottlenose dolphins on one of our boat trips and on another trip swimming near a huge pod of common dolphins and their young - some very young! Amazing! Read full review

Reviewed on 27 Aug 2016 by

The highlight of the holiday was obviously swimming with wild dolphins. The teams were great and helped everyone aboard to overcome their apprehension. Read full review

Reviewed on 19 Jun 2016 by

The experience was spectacular. It was everything I had hoped for. Read full review

Reviewed on 13 Jun 2016 by

Swimming with dolphins right next to the boat, under and around us - magical experience Read full review

Reviewed on 28 May 2016 by

We saw a Blue Whale, several Fin Whales & many dolphins. Read full review

Reviewed on 05 Aug 2015 by

One of the very best holidays we have ever had. We loved it. We all want to go again!! And we'd like to visit some of the other islands too. Read full review

Reviewed on 13 Aug 2015 by

Swimming close to the dolphins, never seen as many dolphins in my life! Read full review

Reviewed on 21 Jul 2015 by

It was one of our best family holidays and I would not hesitate to recommend it. We would like to go again!! Read full review

Reviewed on 31 May 2015 by

Seeing whales and dolphins on each of our four trips out to sea. The sightings were awesome. A great holiday, both for the whale and dolphin encounters and beautiful scenery inland too. Read full review

Reviewed on 23 Sep 2013 by

Just four words, really: out of this world. Oh - and unforgettable....The first time the dolphins came close to us in the water: being able to hear the clicks and squeaks as they sussed us out, seeing the bubbles they blew at us and watching them look us in the eye as they shimmied past. Read full review

Reviewed on 12 Sep 2013 by

Superb. All I had hoped and more....it was good to be somewhere relatively free of tourism, and with a company which proactively thinks about limiting impact on the natural life and the environment...this philosophy helped make the experience special. Read full review

Reviewed on 27 Nov 2011 by

Seeing the wild dolphins in the middle of the Atlantic and the one sperm whale that we saw on our dolphin trip...Good. I just chose the wrong time of the year. Read full review

Reviewed on 25 Jul 2011 by

A wonderful experience. The location was great, the waters around the Azores are naturally teeming with sea life. Being in the water with wild dolphins swimming around us was such an amazing privilege. Read full review

Reviewed on 08 Sep 2010 by

This was probably the best holiday I have ever been on. Both my son and I will never forget it. I absolutely relished being close to nature out at sea and on the island. I am definitely considering travelling to see more dolphins or whales in other parts of the world. Read full review

Reviewed on 26 Oct 2009 by

The most memorable moment was the first time we went into the water. It was so clear and beautiful. We saw a pod of dolphins dive below us and watched them swim away... Read full review

Reviewed on 22 Sep 2009 by

The Azores are really beautiful and unspoilt. It was wonderful when the dolphins were leaping alongside the boat. The view from the guest house was fantastic. Read full review

Reviewed on 20 Aug 2009 by

Amongst many memorable experiences, the absolute highlight for me was when the dolphins were swimming and playing so close to the boat you could almost touch them. The setting of the beautiful ocean in the glorious sunshine added the final touch. Read full review

Reviewed on 03 Sep 2009 by

My daughter and I enjoyed the boat trips and getting so close to whales and dolphins. Read full review

Reviewed on 11 Aug 2008 by

The whales we saw blew me away and I particularly enjoyed seeing and learning all about the different whale species although I originally went to see the dolphins! Read full review

Reviewed on 18 Sep 2007 by

Being so in touch with nature, especially when in the water - an experience that will stay with me forever Read full review

Reviewed on 09 Aug 2007 by

The highlight was the first water encounter with a huge number of dolphins and the swim with the manta ray just before we left. Read full review

Reviewed on 19 Sep 2007 by

Seeing the dolphins swimming in the bow of the boat was the highlight. So beautiful! Seeing them leaping from the waves in perfect timing with each other. Read full review

Reviewed on 18 Sep 2007 by

Swimming with the Dolphins in their natural environment and watching the Whales. Magical. We stayed in a beautiful hotel with friendly staff and were in a group which gelled into a fantastic team spirit. Read full review

Reviewed on 10 Sep 2007 by

I felt like it was one of the best holidays in my life. The service was second to none and the three members of the team had an excellent group dynamic that worked so well for all of us. I would recommend this holiday to any nature enthusiast or anyone that really needed to recuperate from a stressful time at work. Read full review

Reviewed on 21 Aug 2007 by

Quite a few most memorable moments... The moment when wild dolphins approached me in the sea and circled me, resulting in pretty much eye-to-eye contact with one. An evening re-scheduled boat trip with more than usual opportunities to get in the sea and views of a magnificent sunset. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Aug 2007 by

Getting on the water was the highlight of the holiday Read full review

Reviewed on 22 Aug 2007 by

The amazement on my supposedly "cool" teenagers' faces when they got really close to dolphins and whales. Riding at speed across the waves on a semi-rigid inflatable was tremendously exciting too. Read full review

Reviewed on 04 Sep 2006 by

The amount of dolphins we saw during the 10 days was extraordinary. I had no idea that the sea was so alive with mammals! The wildness of the environment and the raw nature - and wild animals allowing you into their space. Read full review

Reviewed on 04 Sep 2006 by

The most memorable parts of the holiday was being in the sea with wild dolphins for the first time and not quite being able to believe what I was seeing, there were so many of them, and also climbing Mount Pico on a beautiful clear day. Read full review

Reviewed on 03 Sep 2006 by

The most memorable parts of the holiday were seeing the dolphins underwater when they were swimming towards us. But also the clean and deep sea. Read full review

Reviewed on 14 Aug 2006 by

The most memorable part of the holiday was the sheer depth of 'the deep blue' every way you looked (serious gulp), and then the blessed relief of the dolphins bobbing along and past you! Read full review

Reviewed on 04 Aug 2006 by

It really was a holiday filled with the wonders of the world; the size of the sea, the spray from a sperm whales blow hole, and the swimming with the dolphins... My son loved the pink colour of the underside of the bottle nose dolphin. Read full review

Reviewed on 25 Aug 2006 by

We both thought the group of 10 we were in was fantastic - we did everything together and the banter was fast, spontaneous, and great fun. The glimpses of the dolphins we got and hearing their sound were some of the best bits of the trip. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Sep 2005 by

The most memorable part was definitely the experience of being allowed in the sea with dolphins and sharing their environment. Climbing the mountain and staying overnight to watch both the sunset and sunrise was a very close second. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Sep 2005 by

The most exciting part of our holiday was seeing the dolphins swimming and jumping around the boats and then quickly getting into the water in time to see the dolphins swim past or under us. It was just magical. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Sep 2005 by

The most memorable moment was the sound of wild dolphins approaching me in the water and then swimming directly under me. An image I will never forget... I can honestly say that this was our BEST EVER holiday as a family. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Sep 2005 by

A magnificent close encounter with spotted dolphins who swam merrily around the cruiser and allowed a close encounter in the water - pure magic! Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Sep 2005 by

This is not a mass tourism location; locals seem to be genuinely happy to see us around and help. Well organised but relaxed as well. Sea outings & dolphins of course were the highlight of the holiday. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Sep 2005 by

The most exciting part of the holiday was spotting pods of dolphins (and also sperm whales) and getting into the water with the dolphins. Read full review

Reviewed on 19 Aug 2005 by

The most exciting part of our holiday was seeing the dolphins for the first time and watching my 2 children 10 and 8 swim in the Atlantic Ocean with the dolphins. Read full review

Reviewed on 19 Aug 2005 by

Most memorable and exciting part of the holiday was being in the sea with my daughter where there were two dolphins below us swimming downwards and one stopped and looked back at us as if to say "what are those strange beings". Magical. Read full review

Reviewed on 26 Jul 2005 by

The most exciting part of this holiday was viewing the marine life at such close quarters. Read full review

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