Blue whale watching in the Azores, Pico Island
This exclusive small group tour, led by our expert whale researcher, offers a unique opportunity to see Blue Whales in hidden areas and participate in research on the boat.
Description of Blue whale watching in the Azores, Pico Island
This Blue Whale Watching holiday in the Azores is a stunning May event, as this is the best time for seeing migratory Blue Whales off the Azores. Your base will be the Azorean island of Pico, a third of which is a nature reserve, with a volcano at its core. You can choose to stay in our 4**** hotel near the harbour, a charming 4**** upgrade hotel surrounded by lush gardens or our guest house villa with pool, all with stunning sea views.
The main focus of the week is to see Blue Whales of course, and you will be travelling with an expert local researcher guide, Rui, with daily timings of your five half day trips planned carefully by him to benefit from best sea conditions. Your whale watching excursions will be on board a RIB Zodiac research boat, which travels comfortably in choppy waters and also able to stay clear of the busier tourist vessels. You will have a chance to become totally immersed in the whale research process during this exciting Blue Whale month of May, learning about data collection, whale behaviour, feeding habits and also get to hear the sounds of the Blue Whale using hydrophones. Our guests are always bowled over and inspired by Ruiís knowledge, as well as his commitment to responsible whale watching.
We have a great record of whale sightings, not only of Blue Whales but also Fin and Humpback Whales, as they are attracted to the nutrient rich waters around Pico during this time. We have also been lucky enough to see an Orca pod on one trip and other wildlife wonders include seven species of dolphin, turtles and Manta Rays.
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2 Reviews of Blue whale watching in the Azores, Pico Island
Reviewed on 11 May 2021 by Lilith Hausherr
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Seeing a blue whale for the first time in my life - and then for the second time and the third time and so on. Because there is more than one boat trip, you
really get the chance to encounter them many times. Some were fluking, one changed direction and came towards the boat - it was absolutly fantastic.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
the weather is crucial for the trips and since it can change quickly - be open and flexible. If you are vegetarians: as most islands, the menus contain lots of fish
and other seafood - we can recommend the local restaurants which offer a daily changing vegetarian dish.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Sleeping in the hotel and eating in the restaurants benefits the locals; going with a motor boat on the ocean is not going to reduce environmental impacts, but
the skipper and the rest of the team try not to disrupt the animals as good as possible (not going to close, only approaching from behind, not staying to long
with the animals) and collect plastic in the ocean when they spot something. Them being able to collect data for scientific studies hopefully helps to conserve
the habitat of the whales and dolphins.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
From 1 to 10 we would give it a 12 - it is truly an amazing and breathtaking experience. The partner organization is very helpful and navigated us through all the obstacles due to covid-19. The scientist who acted as our guide is super friendly and he really knows a lot about the whales, the history of the island and
patiently answers any question. From his presentations we learned so much about the evolution of the whales and the latest scientific findings and ongoing
Reviewed on 19 May 2018 by Richard ChristieIm not normally inclined to book group holidays because Iím not really the sociable kind although in fulfilling my wifeís long held dream to go Whale Watching I had little choice given how everything is structured. After some research I decided the Azores was the place to go therefore I booked one weeks holiday through Amanda finally settling on Pico Island as the destination.
Whale researcher Rui is the man on the ground working full time gathering data about the Azorean whales in order to collaborate with other researchers around the world for the enrichment of wider knowledge. This passionate, hard working, sharing and kind approach sums Rui up to a tee. He is literally the nicest guy you will ever meet and if you ever fancy learning what Rui doesnít know about whales, forget it because you will discover it to be a minuscule amount of knowledge.
His care of our group together with handling the individuals within was a lesson in itself, all very polite, calm and done with caring humour although he ensured any jokes were always on him. Ruiís assistant Maria could be similarly described and was always caring, smiling and super enthusiastic.
The 3 hour trips out to sea were truly amazing with many sightings of Blue, Sperm and Fin Whales together with several dolphin and turtle species. There were numerous other creatures to be expertly described by Rui ( the mans knowledge is unbelievable) therefore these trips were simply out of this world and went by like a flash. We were also educated as to the role of the spotters (and were fortunate to meet one spotter) who guided us to the animals, again learning how all this is achieved was a real pleasure. Regarding going out on the boat, I was very worried about getting seasick as Iím not good on the water, however just taking some travel sickness pills sorted that out and I didnít have any issues at all.
Rui also conducted short seminars after the trips recapping on what we had seen and allowing us time to consider and ask questions. These were activities Rui didnít need to undertake, however his passion and enthusiasm wonít let him pass on the opportunity to share his fascination for these animals and all things nature in general.
We had two group meals with Rui, one at the outset and one at the end which again were great company and great food together with more opportunities to ask questions if we wished.
Our hotel was the the 4**** luxury upgrade option which occupies a stunning location together with very good accommodation although I would recommend hiring a car for the week as we did, thereby providing a much greater ability to get about the island during the afternoons. We also had a really good island tour which was very informative together with a trip to the lava tubes which again was awesome.
Having read the above Iím sure any reader can now understand why I have taken the time to write this appraisal of our holiday, in short it was amazing and my thanks go to everyone involved with putting it all together and Rui & Maria in the azores for their hard working diligent attention to detail in order to ensure everyone had a great time therefore I wouldnít hesitate to book with you guys again.
PlanetThe way the boats approach the whales 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 whale watching 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.
PeopleWe 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 whale watching boats and work within the small scale tourism.
Our whale watching 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. We donate a percentage of our 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 whale watching 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.