Whale watching in the Azores
Airport transfers, educational presentations and talks.
Option to add on land tours or more trips to sea.
Description of Whale watching in the Azores
With so many species of whales and dolphins surrounding this archipelago, this is one of the best places in the world to witness these marine mammals up close, with sightings on 99 percent of whale watching trips to sea. April to September is peak whale watching season in the Azores, with spring and early summer the best time to spot the Blue Whale – the mightiest mammal on the planet.
In May and June, Baleen Whales including Blue, Sei, Fin and Humpback Whales pass through these waters on their annual migration to their summer feeding grounds in the north Atlantic. They may also be spotted here in July and August. Resident Sperm Whales, Pilot Whales and orca are frequently seen along with several species of dolphin, manta rays, sea turtles and sea birds; this is one of the world’s most diverse and abundant gatherings of marine life!
Whale watching in the Azores can be done on the main island of Sao Miguel (direct flights from the UK) or the remote islands (transit via Lisbon), and you can choose to take three or more dolphin and whale watching boat tours during your holiday. Although we have set departure dates, these are not group tours; each guest can plan their time independently. You have a whale watching itinerary which you can add island tours as you wish. The boat operators are highly knowledgeable and skilled in tracking and observing the whales, while marine biologists onboard the boats are on hand to answer any questions and give audio visual presentations about these incredible species. We use a range of boats, from large catamarans which are more comfortable and stable, with high vantage points and onboard toilets, to rigid hulled inflatables (RIBs) which are smaller, nippier and put you right in the thick of the action. You’ll certainly feel the sea spray!
One of the reasons that whale watching holidays in the Azores are so successful is because of the Vigia – land based lookouts who can spot the whales up to 30km away and direct the boats towards them.
Our guests have a choice of good standard 4****accommodation with breakfast, or budget, boutique and 5* options in great locations within walking distance of the marina and boat base. Facilities include swimming pools, gyms, saunas and WiFi. Breakfast is served buffet-style, and discounts are available for children sharing with their parents. In the evenings, you can stroll around town and try out the superb Azorean and international restaurants.
Your whale watching tours in the Azores are all hosted by local guides as well as a marine biologist – all speak excellent English and have plenty of experience leading these trips in the Azores. Formal (audio visual talk by marine biologist at our boat base by the harbour) and informal (on the boat) presentations and talks on the local marine life will be offered by your guides. You will learn a lot about dolphins and whales from these stimulating, educational presentations. This combines well with seeing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
Away from the boat, your time is your own. We can also book tours for you to explore the rugged inland landscapes of the Azores such as adventure jeep tours, hiking trips and bird watching excursions. Bathe in volcanic hot springs and see bubbling hot geysers. Get active with kayaking, mountain biking and paddle boarding on the islands stunning lakes. This is an independent holiday, so indulge yourself as you wish!
Flights are not included in the cost of our holidays. This holiday takes place on Sao Miguel island, Azores and you will be staying in Ponta Delgada, a 15-minute drive from the airport. Ryanair have flights year round and SATA Azorean Airlines and BA operate flights in high season. For ease we have a dedicated flight agent who can help arrange and book flights for you should you wish (excluding Ryanair).
|Day 1:||Transfer to your hotel from the airport, free time to settle in and explore the town. If you have time, you can make your own way to the boat base to meet the team and discuss your whale watching schedule. Itineraries are flexible, below is a suggested itinerary only as you can choose additional activities as mentioned above.|
|Day 2:||Take a 10-minute walk to the boat base for an audio-visual briefing on the Azores’ whales and dolphins. Morning or afternoon boat trip.|
|Day 3:||Morning boat trip to watch whales. Spend the afternoon snorkelling in a lagoon or relaxing on the beach.|
|Day 4:||Morning boat trip to watch whales. In the afternoon, you can book an additional jeep tour around the island’s forests and lakes, or hike to famous spots in the island’s history.|
|Day 5:||Breakfast. Whale watching (morning or afternoon) activity or you can book an additional full day excursion to the geo thermal heart of the island. Bubbling hot mud, spouting geysers, see the steam rising from the rocks and sample the local cuisine cooked underground. Visit to the local botanical gardens close to the hotel. You have the opportunity to visit the vineyards with an exceptional wine tasting activity|
|Day 6:||Morning boat trip to watch whales. Optional half day excursion to “The Fire Lake” the biggest geo thermal crater on Sao Miguel with dramatic views from the highest point of the island of the north and south coasts from the top. Visit the hot thermal waterfalls where you can bathe in hot springs set in lush rainforest. Before going back to the city, you will visit a liquor distillery to sample the local tipple.|
|Day 7:||For your final day, you may like to get active with a trip up to the blue and green lakes to our activity centre where you can do some kayaking, paddle boarding, mountain biking or hiking. Alternatively, you may want to relax by the hotel pool and wander around the charming town.|
|Day 8:||After breakfast, you may have time for a bit of souvenir shopping in town before being transferred to the airport for your flight home.|
70 Reviews of Whale watching in the Azores
Reviewed on 13 Jun 2022 by Barbara EisnerThe local people were without exception welcoming, helpful and extremely friendly, from bus drivers to shopkeepers to people in the street happy to give directions to tourists looking lost. Read full review
Reviewed on 12 Jun 2022 by Ayan SenAn amazing few days Read full review
Reviewed on 05 Jun 2022 by Siobhan GregoryThe Azores is stunning. It felt clean, safe with some breathtaking scenery and fabulous food. We would definitely return Read full review
Reviewed on 15 May 2022 by Helen ShimwellFor me the whole holiday was a dream come true. It was so well organised from the initial booking, to the booking of flights to the holiday itself and as a solo traveller that gave me peace of mind. Read full review
Reviewed on 15 May 2022 by LISA TANERVery memorable. A stunning island with amazing marine life. I’d love to come back! Read full review
Reviewed on 08 May 2022 by Erica UtsiIt was a totally relaxing, fascinating holiday. Read full review
Reviewed on 28 May 2022 by Suzanne LongThe land tours and activities are excellent for preserving the sights and natural areas. The guides are superb and informed Read full review
Reviewed on 23 May 2022 by Maxine CohenSao Miguel is a beautiful island with some amazing scenery. Despite only one whale sighting I really enjoyed my holiday Read full review
Reviewed on 19 Apr 2022 by Mark DobsonSeeing a pod of around 100 dolphins Read full review
Reviewed on 06 Jun 2021 by Debra MorganVery good. The Azores are beautiful islands with an interesting history, excellent food, and very friendly people. We enjoyed our boat trips and saw 3 species of whale/dolphin on each trip. The land tours were fun and allowed us to see the interior of the island. Read full review
Reviewed on 13 Aug 2019 by Charlie HendersonThe trips to sea in order to see the wildlife were the most memorable part of the trip. Read full review
Reviewed on 08 Jul 2019 by Chris JacksonThe most memorable and exciting part of the holiday was the " be a marine biologist for a day" trip was amazing, not only did we see whales and dolphins but got to understand a lot more about the research being done and all the conservation and protection measures that are ongoing. Read full review
Reviewed on 15 Jun 2019 by Julie WatsonThe half day whale watching trip out on the small dinghy was very exciting. Horta was our favourite base and Pico and Capelinhos on Faial were fascinating landscapes. Read full review
Reviewed on 03 Jun 2019 by David SmithActually seeing the dolphins and blue whale was memorable. The trip was a fantastic experience with well informed staff. Read full review
Reviewed on 13 May 2019 by Caroline SandfordThere were so many exciting parts to this trip but if I had to chose one it would be the first day we went to sea, it was on my birthday and we were surrounded by Dolphins. A truly amazing experience. Read full review
Reviewed on 19 May 2019 by Carole BowmanSeeing whales and dolphins was the most memorable part of our holiday. Read full review
Reviewed on 18 Jun 2018 by Vivian MunnThe anticipation and then the excitement of actually seeing the sperm and pilot whales that honoured us with their presence! Read full review
Reviewed on 08 Jun 2018 by Siobhan ChapmanIt fully lived up to our expectations.....Seeing a group of four sperm whales resting together on the surface just in front of the boat Read full review
Reviewed on 01 Jun 2018 by Margaret MerrisWe were on the cat and a huge gasp went up from everyone on board; a fin whale had swum in front of the boat and opened its mouth out of the water to feed. It was only a split second but that sight is engraved on my memory. My partner didn't see it, he was looking the other way at the time. Read full review
Reviewed on 28 May 2018 by Jennifer GoughGoing out to sea in a small RIB to watch the dolphins and the whales. An excellent holiday with very knowledgeable marine biologists on board the boats. Read full review
Reviewed on 23 Jun 2018 by Mary HughesWe had a fabulous time Read full review
Reviewed on 28 May 2018 by Sue LavenderThe Rib boat trip and seeing the Finn whales. Greatly missed out by one day on seeing blue, humpback and whales which would have made it an extra special experience. But they are out there if you’re lucky. Read full review
Reviewed on 17 Apr 2018 by Jessica StantonThe highlight was the whale watching! Read full review
Reviewed on 12 Aug 2017 by Fiona BashfordSeeing a shark, lots of dolphins and a few whales was the highlight. The land tour of the island was also well worth doing: swimming in natural thermal water, having a traditional lunch, visiting a tea plantation... Read full review
Reviewed on 30 Jun 2017 by Dee SearleThe best experience was the Zodiac boat, when we got up close and personal with a huge pod of common dolphins (including some new-borns) and with three fin whales, who stayed with us for ages, plus flying fish and Cory's shearwaters. Read full review
Reviewed on 06 Jun 2017 by Greta HughesWe had amazing sightings of a Blue whale and Fin whales and Bottlenose dolphins and Common dolphins and 1 turtle. Read full review
Reviewed on 05 Jun 2017 by Emily BowenLooking for whales and dolphins in the wild when we knew we were so close to them. Read full review
Reviewed on 18 May 2017 by Lesley RudlingSeveral times seeing Blue Whales starting their deep dive with flukes in the air. We saw Blue whales, Sperm whales, Fin whales galore and a solitary Humpback whale which also did a "flukes in the air" dive. Read full review
Reviewed on 20 Jul 2017 by Richard CasburnSeeing the fin whales, sperm whales, striped, common and Atlantic Spotted Dolphins was the most memorable moment. Read full review
Reviewed on 13 Jun 2017 by Abraham VargheseBeautiful island with ideal temperatures for walking, hiking and surfing... Read full review
Reviewed on 07 Jun 2017 by Martin MurtaghSuperb. Read full review
Reviewed on 06 Jun 2017 by Marijke DoidgeI loved everything about my holiday to the Azores but the whale watching is why I wanted to go there, it did not disappoint. I saw a humpback whale, two sperm whales of which one showed the tail when it dived under the water and three fin whales. Read full review
Reviewed on 19 May 2017 by Anne LowndesGreat holiday we had three days of storms and still found things to do Read full review
Reviewed on 13 May 2017 by Maureen KeithThe most memorable was Terra Nostra botanical gardens. Read full review
Reviewed on 31 Jul 2016 by David BennettVery good Read full review
Reviewed on 15 Sep 2016 by Mary ChambersBest bit: Seeing whales and dolphins Read full review
Reviewed on 12 Sep 2016 by Tasha GrayThe RIB was great fun and we were lucky enough to see Sperm Whales with a calf and a huge pod of very playful dolphins!! Read full review
Reviewed on 08 Aug 2016 by Stuart SinclairThe whole trip was an adventure. The boat trips were amazing. We were lucky enough to see 3 different types of dolphin on each trip and a manta ray on one of the trips. Read full review
Reviewed on 18 Jul 2016 by Jacquelynn MorbySwimming with the Dolphin's was excellent and so exciting, would, do it again in a flash, only wished I had booked for 5 swims. Read full review
Reviewed on 14 Jul 2016 by Reba CastBest bit: Seeing wildlife in its own environment but in a non intrusive manner Read full review
Reviewed on 12 Jun 2016 by Stephen LucasBeing in the company of a wonderful people and getting to see some amazing wildlife. Read full review
Reviewed on 09 Jun 2016 by Sue BeckinghamNothing was too much trouble. Great knowledge of the countryside and of the whales. Very conscious of safety and not getting to close to the whales. Read full review
Reviewed on 06 Jun 2016 by Steven YerbyWhale watching-it was amazing to see animals in their natural environment. We saw three of the largest creatures in the world. Read full review
Reviewed on 28 May 2016 by Toby CantlieI was really taken by the Azores, the people and the wild-life. I would happily come again and explore more. Read full review
Reviewed on 26 May 2016 by Luc DeneysExcellent Read full review
Reviewed on 26 May 2015 by Sylvia HanlonSeeing whales and dolphins in the sea. Fantastic! Read full review
Reviewed on 28 Sep 2015 by Ian FlindallOne of our best (and in our 60s we have been on some!) Read full review
Reviewed on 27 Aug 2015 by Andrew HaugeVery enjoyable, will definitely go back Read full review
Reviewed on 19 Jul 2015 by Denise WatsonThis was a fab holiday and experience. To experience these animals in their natural environment was just amazing. We also saw flying fish, turtles, 3 types of dolphins and a fin whale - wow!! Read full review
Reviewed on 21 Jun 2015 by Mary GardnerThe best parts were the 3 whale-watching trips where we saw many sperm whales and several different types of dolphin, and also a trip to Furnas where we spent an hour or so in the hot pool there. Worth a visit, and the gardens are lovely. Read full review
Reviewed on 16 Jun 2015 by colin wilkieMost memorable or exciting part of your holiday? Seeing Sperm Whales in the Atlantic Ocean! Read full review
Reviewed on 28 May 2015 by Shirley KeyworthGood weather and many sightings of whales; 10 out of 10. Read full review
Reviewed on 26 May 2015 by Joy MarshallWhales, whales and more whales! Fabulous. The tour operators were awesome. Read full review
Reviewed on 20 Apr 2015 by Claire AshtonI cannot recommend the team highly enough, they showed great respect for the animals whilst providing a brilliant Whale and Dolphin watching experience. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip; the people, animals and islands were a joy. The travel company were highly efficient and our itinerary was delivered faultlessly. Read full review
Reviewed on 05 May 2015 by Barbara MoinetThe most exciting part? Seeing Bottlenose Dolphins up close Read full review
Reviewed on 12 Jul 2014 by Alison AndrewsFantastic we think it is the best thing we have done so far. The whale watching was spectacular, but the island is also beautiful and unspoilt with great views and lovely walks. Read full review
Reviewed on 07 Jul 2014 by julie harris11 / 10 if you wish to see the marine life with environmentally respectful people. Read full review
Reviewed on 30 Jun 2014 by Peter EllisFantastic, a perfect honeymoon. Such a beautiful place. Read full review
Reviewed on 18 Jun 2014 by Barbara WattSimply the best! The accommodation was simple but all that was needed. Everyone else on the group all had the same goal - to see whales and we certainly did. I had a fantastic time and have to admit to having a lump in my throat when I saw my first Blue Whale... Read full review
Reviewed on 29 Aug 2014 by Alison WoodlandThe most memorable parts were the 5 boat trips - each in different conditions with different dolphin/whale sightings. Read full review
Reviewed on 26 Aug 2014 by daniela galloI loved to follow whales in their natural environment. The organization provides a low environmental impact whale watching vacation Read full review
Reviewed on 25 Jun 2013 by Carl AllenI really enjoyed the whole experience. It was my first trip on my own and I was i was quite scared about it all. It was very well organised and the people there were great and met everyone of your needs and exceeded themselves. The company who i booked this through was spot on and there communication with me was excellent. I cannot wait to go again. Read full review
Reviewed on 20 Jun 2013 by Diane MulloyOne of the best holidays I have ever had. It was exciting , humbling, awe inspiring and such an amazing experience .. Unforgettable and just beautiful. The tour operator, the skippers and all the staff were so interesting, informative and very friendly. If you love whales and the thrill of speeding across the ocean and beautiful scenery all in one the this holiday is a must. Read full review
Reviewed on 06 Jun 2013 by Margaret WatermanThe encounters with marine life exceeded expectation. Nine species in one week including blue, fin, sperm and false killer whales...Excellent. The encounters were exceptional; the expertise impressive; and we had fun. Read full review
Reviewed on 05 Aug 2013 by Jane MiltonWell worth the money. We really enjoyed it. Seeing the whales and dolphins so close up was just amazing. Read full review
Reviewed on 26 May 2013 by David ThompsonExcellent...The whale and dolphin watching company has good eco credentials and visibly took the welfare of the animals seriously Read full review
Reviewed on 13 May 2013 by Soli HillelHearing the whales breath was the most memorable part of the holiday. Read full review
Reviewed on 25 May 2013 by William HasseySeeing pods of killer whales and amazing dolphins in their natural environment was the most memorable part of the holiday. Read full review
Reviewed on 18 Jun 2012 by Richard Burgess-GambleReally hard to choose due to so many memorable and exciting moments. We saw whales and dolphins everyday and every sighting was special in its own way. Seeing a Sei Whale was particularly impressive due to its size and rarity of sightings at that time of year. Read full review
Reviewed on 26 Jul 2012 by Lindsay AdamsSeeing a female whale with 3 babies on the surface and having the privilege to see babies feeding from their mothers. Although the first day that we went out on the water was amazing skipping over a 4 metre swell. This was exhilarating and exciting! Read full review
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. 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 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.
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