Unspoiled nature, incredible landscapes, volcanic craters, beautiful lagoons, waterfalls, fumaroles – these are just some of the things you will find in the breathtaking Azores. The archipelago consists of nine volcanic islands divided into three groups - the Western Group, Central Group, and the Eastern Group. An interesting fact: the Azores is one of the top destinations for sustainable tourism in the world, and most of the activities that tourists take part in revolve around the outdoors: hiking, whale watching, diving, among others.
The Azores is an unforgettable place in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. Its rich waters attract the big stuff and visibility is one of the best you can find. Sperm whales, beaked whale, fin whales, humpback whales, false killer whales, bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, mobula rays, and sea turtles are just some of the big pelagics you can encounter here. Just pick the right season depending on what you want to see.
The underwater arches, cliffs, gorges, caves, and tunnels created an amazing topography, one that provides numerous photo opportunities. There are also several wrecks worth exploring. According to reports, there should be more than 90 shipwrecks in the Archaeological Underwater Park of Baía de Angra do Heroísmo along, but most have not yet been discovered.
The best diving conditions in the Azores Islands can be found from June to October when the water temperatures are warmer and the seas are calmer. It is also during this time that you are more likely to see manta rays and whale sharks. Nonetheless, there are plenty of dive sites you can explore year-round in a thicker wetsuit if you don’t mind the cold water.
The water temperature in the Azores ranges between 14° C/58° F during the winter season (the coldest month being February) and 23° C/74° F (water temperature peaks in August).
Water visibility in the Azores is outstanding, averaging 30 meters/100 feet, but can be up to 60 meters/197 feet.
The Azores is known for its strong currents, but it’s precisely these currents that bring the big pelagic animals that divers are so eager to see. During summer, however, the currents are weaker. Many dive sites are suitable only for advanced divers.
Located southwest of the island of Pico, Princess Alice Bank is a submerged seamount that became the most famous dive site in the Azores. What attracts divers to this area: the dozens of mobula rays that gather here. Barracudas, triggerfish, swordfish, bonitos, stingrays, and monkfish are also frequent visitors. Luckier ones may even spot whale sharks and manta rays. Although this dive site is accessible only to advanced divers, mobulas sometimes come very close to the surface which makes snorkeling a good alternative.
Ponta da Cozinha is located on the east side of the Vila Franca do Campo Islet, near São Miguel Island. The islet is a protected area teeming with life. This particular dive site is full of fish of all sorts – peacock wrasses, parrotfish, octopuses, chromis, black-tailed perches, white trevallies, moray eels, dusky groupers, Almaco jacks, bluefish, rays, among others. Ponta da Cozinha features magnificent walls, rock formations, and passages. Diving here is really fun!
Another iconic dive spot in the Azores is Baixa do Ambrosio, situated near Santa Maria Island. It has an incredibly diverse and abundant marine life. The large groups of devil rays are what draw divers her, but you can also spot schools of Almaco jacks, yellowmouth barracudas, wahoo, tuna, and bluefish. If you’re lucky, you may even spot an oceanic sunfish here. Experienced divers can descend to greater depths to observe the manta rays.
This small islet is located near Santa Maria Island and offers the perfect conditions for schools of pelagic fish. And since it’s located in a protected area, it has some of the healthiest reefs and abundant animal life. Yellow-mouth barracudas, Almaco jacks, white trevallies, and numerous species of nudibranchs are just some of the creatures you’ll come close to here.
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