The Azores: The Best Place in Europe for Whale-Watching

The Azores lie 1,500km west of mainland Portugal, an archipelago of nine volcanic islands that sit in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a haven for wildlife lovers, as home to a third of the world’s cetacean species 

Discovering The Azores

With five international airports, these remote islands are surprisingly easy to access. With so much untamed natural beauty to discover, The Azores are the ideal location for walking tours. The remote landscapes of the Azores are characterized by thermal springs, geysers, and volcanos.

One of the most breathtaking scenes is the Sete Cidades crater lake, a turquoise aquatic gem that is surrounded by seven volcanic peaks. There are a wealth of hiking trails in this location, as well as quad-biking and kayaking opportunities. 

You can even take a tour up to 300 meters below the surface of the ancient lava tubes. These can be found on several islands. It’s an exciting opportunity to see how the islands have been shaped by their geographical location on the boundary zone of three major tectonic plates.

An Excellent Place to Discover Wildlife

The Azores are located far out into the Atlantic Ocean and as such, there are very few mammals that existed on the islands before humans introduced them. The islands are certainly not short of aquatic life, however! You may spot the famous balloon-like Portuguese man o’ war, huge leatherback sea turtles, or even some endangered hammerhead sharks. 

The Azores is something of a hotspot for dolphin and whale-watching. There are 28 species of cetacean to be found in this region, an unusually high number. Here are a few varieties you may be able to spot: 

  • Sperm whale
  • Humpback whale
  • Sei whale
  • Blue whale
  • Fin whale
  • Minke whale
  • Striped dolphin
  • Spotted dolphin
  • Risso’s dolphin

On your whale-watching expedition, you can take to the water for several hours and catch sight of them spy hopping (ie: putting their heads above the water so they can see the surface).

Slow Travel 

The Azores are perfectly suited to slow travel. Though the beaches are rocky and volcanic, pool ladders dot the coastlines, signaling the areas where it is safe to paddle and swim in the warm Atlantic waters. 

It’s also possible to visit the tea plantations of São Miguel, where green tea, oolong tea, and several varieties of black tea are grown. The wine production in the islands is also particularly well known, especially on Pico Island. See the rocks where Azorean wine is grown and try some for yourself!

Fancy something a little bit different? Whales, hiking, volcanoes, excellent food and drink, the ability to choose how active or laid-back your vacation is… all this can be yours on your trip to The Azores.

Author

  • Sophia Williams

    Meet Sophia Williams, a 25-year-old blogger who is passionate about sharing her life tips and experiences to help others lead happier and more fulfilling life. With a degree in psychology and a love for personal development, Sophia Williams is constantly exploring ways to improve her own life and is dedicated to sharing her findings with her readers. When she's not writing, you can find her practicing yoga, exploring new cities, and spending time with her cat, Luna.

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