If you are planning a visit to the Azores, you will not want to miss out on going whale watching. One of the best things to do on these islands is whale watching in Azores. Due to the location of these islands in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, the Azores whale watching is some of the best you can find anywhere in the world. There are certain times of the year that are better to visit than others, but either way, you are sure to see some marine wildlife on your visit. I had the privilege of spending an entire month on the island of São Miguel, but that is just one of the nine islands where you can see marine life. In this The Azores Whale Watching Guide, I will go over my experience, tips, and everything you need to know for your trip!
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My Experience Whale Watching in Azores with Terra Azul
There are many different whale watching in Azores companies available on multiple islands. Like I said before, I stayed on the largest island, São Miguel. There are a few companies on this island where you can go whale watching. My Airbnb host, who was incredibly helpful throughout my entire stay, highly recommended Terra Azul Whale Watching in Vila Franca do Campo. They recommended this company over the others because of the company’s focus on sustainability. Which I really appreciated. Not only that but Terra Azul tours in much smaller groups on smaller boats for a more intimate experience. My Airbnb host handled all of the bookings, so we just showed up. We showed up around 8 AM and checked in. Here is my experience.
Terra Azul Conservation Message
There is an informational video that Terra Azul shows before going out on the water. In this video, you not only learn about what to expect but also their conservation message. I enjoyed this portion of the experience because you can tell they genuinely really care about these animals. And they are not only caring for the animals but also trying to get others to care. These are not just tour guides but marine biologists. Each member of the staff is very passionate about whales and dolphins and is very knowledgeable. They are always available to answer any questions on both the animals and the company’s conservation efforts.
Now more than ever, conservation is critical to the health of our planet and everything that lives on it. While the message from Terra Azul is something I highly agree with, one thing they did not touch on was the effects of seafood consumption on our oceans. This is why I have been plant-based for many years and plan to continue. If you would like to learn more about the effects of eating seafood on the whale and dolphin populations, I suggest watching the Netflix documentary Seaspiracy.
My Experience on the Ocean
Once we left the marina, the seas were sadly very rough. It was a very rough day. The waves were very high. The entire tour lasts for about 3 hours. I’m not going to lie. It was kind of rough but still enjoyable. This is obviously at no fault to the company. Some days are just rougher than others. At the end of our time whale watching in Azores, even the guide said it was a rough day. One tip, if you feel seasick look at the land, and it helps. Sadly, several people were getting sick on this day. Thankfully, I was sitting at the very front with my back to all the sick people, so I did not have to see it. There were a few moments I thought I would get sick but gladly didn’t. Be sure to eat very lightly before.
We saw two different dolphins species on this the Azores whale watching tour. We saw the common dolphin as well as the Risso’s dolphin. I have seen bottlenose dolphins many times in my life but never these two. They are magnificent animals. To see them in their natural habitat was amazing. At one point, there were dolphins on all sides of the boat. They came close to the boat and seemed very curious. Sadly, we did not see any whales on our trip. I did not expect to see any since it was not the right time of year. There is always some hope to see whales, even not during peak season, but I sadly did not get so lucky. Either way, it was a very enjoyable experience whale watching in Azores.
Ilhéu de Vila Franca do Campo
On the way back to the marina, Terra Azul tours stop by the world-famous Ilhéu de Vila Franca do Campo. This famous islet is well known worldwide and is an iconic image of the Azores. The islet was formed from a volcanic crater with a near-perfect circle in the middle of the islet. You can come here and swim and hike around the rim during the warmer months. I can imagine it is an enjoyable thing to do. With this tour, we drove around the islet, where we still got to see the gorgeous natural beauty of the volcanic crater. If you come during the warmer months, be sure to take a boat tour over here to enjoy everything it has to offer.
Overall, I really enjoyed my experience whale watching in Azores with Terra Azul. While the seas were rough, the tour company could not help that. The company did a great job of educating us on the animals and was very friendly. If you are looking for the Azores whale watching company with excellent guides, definitely give them a try. I hope you get to see some whales if you come whale watching. It would be so magical to see giant whales.
Tips for The Azores Whale Watching
After my experience whale watching in Azores, I have some tips for any prospective traveler. This may be common knowledge amongst some people, but I still wish to share my thoughts. Again these are my personal tips.
- Eat a very light breakfast– Be sure not to show up on a full stomach. You never know how rough the ocean will be and how sea sick you will get. I saw many people eating large breakfasts while waiting to board the boat. This was a bad idea, and most of those people were throwing up once we got out onto the rough seas. If you must eat anything, be sure to eat something very light and far enough in advance for the food to settle.
- Dress Appropriately–I visited during the winter months and while it is not too cold on the land, the seas are much different. Be prepared and dress warmly if you are visiting in the winter. Dress warmer than you would think you need to. I wore many layers and still got quite cold. Terra Azul does offer coats to use if you need one. If you are visiting in the summer months, this will not be as much of an issue.
- Be Realistic About What You May See–These are wild animals, so don’t be too disappointed if you do not see anything. While you are almost always guaranteed to see SOMETHING, don’t be upset if you don’t see all the animals you want. There is no controlling the animals. They come and go as they please, so consider yourself very lucky if you see many animals. While I was disappointed not to see any whales, I was still pleased to see so many dolphins and experience the water.
- Tip the Crew-While it is never required to leave a gratuity if you enjoyed your time on the water, it is always nice to leave a tip for the crew. They will appreciate it. The crew works very hard and provides great information about the animals you are seeing. They also have a hard-working team telling them where to go to find these animals. If you feel like the team has worked hard and done a good job, a small gratuity is a great way to say thank you!
Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions about the Azores whale watching:
Why is whale watching in Azores some of the best in the world?
The Azores are possibly the best place on the planet for whale watching. Due to its location in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, much marine life passes by the island on their migration paths. While many of these animals pass through for mating and migration, many species call this region home year-round. For this reason, the Azores are home to one of the most diverse and largest populations of whales and dolphins on Earth.
When is the best time of year to visit the Azores for whale watching?
The best time of year to visit the Azores for whale watching is in the springtime. More specifically during April and May. These are the best months to see the most wildlife. While you can still see marine life in the Azores year-round, you have the best chances to see larger whales during these two months compared to the rest of the year. No matter what time of year you are visiting though, a whale watching tour is still highly recommended.
Which island is the best for the Azores whale watching?
The largest island of São Miguel is your best choice for where to stay for whale watching in Azores. While tours are available on several islands, you will have the most options on São Miguel. Along with options, you will have a greater chance of seeing more marine life on this island than on others. Obviously, these wild animals come and go where they choose, but you can’t go wrong staying in São Miguel.
What marine life can you expect to see when whale watching in Azores?
As previously mentioned, the Azores is home to some of the most diverse and largest whale and dolphin populations on Earth. You can expect to see everything from small dolphins to giant whales. Some of the regular sightings include blue whales, killer whales, sperm whales, pilot whales, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins, and many more!
As you can see, there are so many amazing things to say about whale watching in Azores. No matter what time of year you are visiting, this should be one of the top things to do on your list. I highly recommend it. The Azores are a beautiful area of the world. You will most certainly have a fantastic time if you come for a visit. I still think the Azores are a true hidden gem of travel. Not many people know about these islands still, so they are still pristine. If you plan on coming to the Azores, be sure to check out all of my other content on the islands. I have written many blog posts on everything about the Azores, from what to do, where to hike, where to eat, and so much more. You can find all of my other Azores content here.
I truly hope you found this guide to be useful. Like I said, sadly I didn’t get to see any whales during my trip, but the dolphins were just as beautiful. Hopefully, if you decide to visit these islands and go whale watching, you will be able to see some whales. I’ve seen many pictures and videos of people having the best time. If you end up going on a whale watching in Azores tour, please share your experience with me in the comments down below! If you found this guide to be useful, please consider sharing it with your friends and fellow travelers. Also, if you enjoyed this content be sure to sign up for my email list to be notified every time I publish new content! Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I genuinely appreciate it. Enjoy your time in the Azores!