Azores has more than 100 diving spots, sightings of up to 24 different species of cetacea, diving with sharks, dives through the naval history of Portugal, high visibility in clean waters, more than 3,000 marine species, vertical walls, seamounts emerging from Atlantic Ocean abyss, amazing encounters with whale sharks, mantas and mobulas just a step ahead from continental Europe. Azores is a great diving destination with so much to offer. And not only for divers.
Azores is an archipelago of nine volcanic islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean belonging to Portugal that is just 3 hours away from the Iberian Peninsula. Two unique features make the Azores a unique place: the combination of subtropical with oceanic climate and also that its islands are bathed with the rich waters of the Gulf Stream. Krill, plankton and shoals of small fish like sardines attract large predators allowing you to dive with large species but also with the smallest in a scenario of extraordinary geological formations, memory of the recent creation of these islands.
The best time to dive in Azores goes from June to October, when mobulas, mantas and whale sharks come to the archipelago. The currents on seamounts are weaker and visibilities can reach up to 60 meters. Still in Azores you can dive all year long with water temperatures not lower than 16 ° C.
Diving spots in Azores
Diving in Azores is divided between seamounts and offshore diving in the islands or near islands coast:
Within 50 miles of Pico Island lies Princess Alice, one of the most spectacular dive sites in the Atlantic Ocean. With crystal clear waters, this seamount is packed with pelagic fauna: blue sharks, hammerhead sharks, schools of mobulas, schools barracudas, dolphins… A real experience for any diver and an essential dive in the first visit to the Azores.
Condor Bank has in the shark diving its main lure. This area, first seamount protected from fishing, has become very popular by the visits of two of the finest ocean sharks: shortfin mako shark and blue shark, which are attracted by chumming. In Condor Bank you can have encounters with dolphins, especially spotted dolphin, bottlenose dolphin and common dolphin species.
This underwater volcano has the cleanest waters and greater visibility in the Azores archipelago. In this bank you´ll dive into vertiginous walls which attracts amazing pelagic creatures such as mobulas, schools of tuna fish, wahoos or sea turtles to an area full of typical wildlife of the Atlantic Ocean.
The small islands of Formigas are located 20 miles from Santa Maria. Its coasts offer high quality diving and access to Dollabarat Bank, a seamount torn by currents that attract Galapagos sharks, schools of tuna, giant oceanic manta rays and, if you are lucky enough, hammerhead sharks.
Santa Maria is the smallest of Azores but one of the most popular among divers. The large number of marine species that can be found in its 10 dive sites represent an extraordinary diving holydays on an island of only 90 km2.
Santa Maria not only gives you the opportunity to dive with whale sharks during the summer, you can also be an spectator to a unique show, just three miles from the coast, in Ambrosio, you´ll have the chance to dive with dozens of mobulas tarapacana (sometimes have been sighted groups of up to 50 specimens).
If that is not enough, you can have encounters with sunfish, large schools of sardines or barracudas, typical fauna of the Atlantic Ocean as pollocks, moray eels, large groupers, rays and octopus in a beautiful landscape full of lava walls, tunnels and black coral.
Faial is one of the islands from where to can go for whale for sightings trips aroud Azores, especially sperm whales and blue whales and you can also reach Condor bank from this island. On Faial you can find over 12 dive spots with beautiful canyons and abundant typical sea species of Azores archipelago.
In the strait between the island of Faial and Pico is where the most interesting dive sites are located, with curious geological formations as the «Gruta dos Camarões».
Pico Island offers varied dive spots, with steep walls, canyons, pinnacles and sand plateaus on the coast and provides access to one of the best dives offshore, the Princess Alice.
Terceira is an island with great historical and cultural value, with the city of Angra do Heroismo named UNESCO World Heritage. In fact this island was really important in the Age of Discoveries and the Portuguese Empire. Moreover, for divers, it is particularly important for its great variety of dive sites. In Terceira you’ll have the chance to dive in an Underwater Archaeological Park that shows the importance of this island and its naval history in the «Cemetery of Anchors» or the wreck «Lidador» sunk over 130 years ago.
Graciosa is the second smallest island of the Azores but it has interesting dive spots and a good dive center network. In Graciosa you can dive along a coast that shows large schools of small pelagic fish, interesting underwater caves and even a wreck of easy dive and full of life: Terceirense.
Sao Jorge is a long narrow island with steep cliffs full of vegetation where both mountaineers and surfers (in fact is well known as one of the best places in Europe for this sport) and of course divers have a lot to discover. The strong current that this island receives attract many different sized pelagic creatures and in the south of the island you’ll find some great caves and beautiful rock formations.
Sao Miguel is the largest island in the Azores archipelago and the one that most diving spots and variety of diving offers. In Sao Miguel you can dive in World War II wrecks, marine reserves, pinnacles that receive strong currents, pelagic animals, mobulas or throughout caves and grottoes with beautiful lighting effects.
The island of Flores is the westernmost part of Europe and has extraordinary tropical landscapes: beautiful vegetation, fields of blue hydrangeas, the incredible lake «Lagoa das patas» hidden among trees and fed by dozens of small waterfalls … And of course also has great interest for the sea lovers: caves, schools of triggerfish, moray eels or rays are present in the dives of this great little island.
Corvo, the smallest island in the Azores archipelago, is an extinct volcano with a huge caldera inside which forms a spectacular landscape. Besides being a privileged place for bird watching during migrations, it has five dive sites of great diversity where you can see large groupers, schools of pelagic fish, ornate wrasse, rays or a great variety of moray eels.