Whale Watching in the Azores:
everything you need to know before booking your experience
The Azores Islands are known for their unparalleled beauty and biodiversity adored by outdoor adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers alike; but they are also one of the fastest-growing whale watching destinations in the world. Located in the Atlantic Ocean between Portugal and North America, the Azores are a permanent home and natural point of passage to more than 20 different types of whale and dolphin species making the islands one of the world’s largest whale sanctuaries. The Azores’ winning combination of unique volcanic origins, deep waters off the coast and mild air and sea temperatures from the Gulf Stream make the archipelago the ideal location for visitors to come and spot a wide array of species on a Whale Watching adventure.
Sea life you can spot on a whale watching experience in the Azores, Portugal
Sperm Whales, Common Dolphins, Bottlenose Dolphins, Atlantic Spotted Dolphin and Risso’s Dolphins call the Azores home year-round. Some other species visit when they pass through during specific seasons, including Pilot Whales and Striped Dolphins who come around the spring months, and Blue Whales, Minke Whale, Fin Whales and Sei Whales who pass through during their migration in the summer months. The waters around the Azores are also home to many other birds and animals. Visitors to the islands can expect to encounter sea turtles, Manta rays, ocean sunfish, whale sharks and Cory’s shearwater, the most abundant seabird in the Azores (with a very distinct call!)
Best time of the year for a whale watching experience in the Azores, Portugal
Whale and dolphin watching is largely considered possible only in the summer months, but this is a common misconception! Due to the Azores’ mild temperatures year-round and the large number of species that call the archipelago home, it’s possible to venture out on a whale and dolphin watching excursion any time of the year. If you’re interested in observing spotted dolphins, sperm whales, sei whales, bearded whales or fin whales, then summer is the best season to come for a visit. Blue whales can be easily spotted at the end of winter, while spotted dolphins, striped dolphins and pilot whales pass through during the spring months. No matter what season you choose to come and visit the Azores, you’ll always be able to spot some new friends at sea.
Are sightings guaranteed during a whale watching experience in the Azores, Portugal?
Since the Azores is home to many resident species and species migrating at various times of the year, visitors can expect to spot whales and dolphins 98% of the time, regardless of the time of year. In fact, the spotting rate in the Azores is so high that many tour operators will refund tickets if no dolphins or whales are spotted!
What you should know before your whale watching experience in the Azores, Portugal
Local tour operators and government agencies work hand-in-hand to ensure that the species of the Azores remain safeguarded by setting guidelines and safety rules for all observers to follow.
The following is prohibited:
- To chase, disturb or feed whales and dolphins;
- To swim with whales;
- To pollute the sea;
- To make noise;
- To have more than three boats at once in the same spot;
- To navigate along the whales and dolphins at a distance of less than 50 meters (100 meters if there are
baby whales or dolphins).
Young or old, winter or summer, the Azores is the perfect destination for all who wish to experience the thrill of viewing the cetaceans of the Azores close up on a whale-watching boat trip.