DIVE PACKAGE INCLUDES
The Azores is an island archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, situated 1,643 kilometers from the mainland of Portugal, right on top of the mid Atlantic ridge. The Azores consist out of nine islands and belongs to Portugal. This dive is based off the island of Pico which is also home to the highest mountain in Portugal with a height of 2351 meters. Nearby are the islands of Faial and Sao Jorge.
The Gulf Stream that passes the islands of the Azores brings warmer water close to the islands and every summer the waters surrounding the islands explode with life making these islands the best dive destination of Europe!
The weather can be unpredictable but in the months of July to September, The Azores high pressure system pulls in over the islands bringing good weather and giving them the chance to explore and dive the surrounding seas.Due to this, I would advise having at least 7 possible diving days just so you can maximize your chances of seeing everything that you came to see since some of the trips (especially Princess Alice, 48nm offshore) are weather dependent. Diving experience needed- advanced open water or equivalent and 50+ dives is necessary for this trip since some of the dives are deep +30 meters and sometimes and can experience strong currents and heavy sea conditions.
As for equipment needed- all your dive equipment including a SMB (rental dive equipment available).
The water temp is between 16 and 24 degrees in summer so a 5mm suit with hoodie is normally enough. (gloves for the shark dives).
The visibility is normally between 25 and 40 meters. This along with the natural light allows for amazing conditions for underwater photographers and videographers.
Shark Diving- Blues & Makos
The main species of sharks to dive with in the Azores are the Blue and Mako sharks but there are also Smooth hammerheads that they can look for.
Over the last few years, they have had great success with big Blue sharks at a spot only 4 to 6 miles from the harbor. They have also been getting Mako sharks on this closer location but not in very high numbers.
For the shark dives, they use chum and the time it takes for sharks to arrive at the boat can range anywhere from between 5 minutes to 5 hours. When they arrive it’s not uncommon to get sharks over 2.5 meters so they are much bigger than on the South Africa dive.
The way they dive is also a little different than in South Africa. Here, they dive under the boat using two drift lines for the divers to hold on to instead of diving around the chum drum. This is a 1 tank dive but with the 12 or 15 liter tanks they use it can be a very long dive as it is not a deep dive.
The Princess Alice bank is a seamount 48 nautical miles offshore that comes up from over a 1000 meters to about 30 meters. This seamount attracts a huge number of pelagic fish like Amberjacks, Barracudas, Bonito’s, Wahoo’s, other species of Tunas, Mobula rays, Manta rays ,big shoals of fish and if you’re lucky even Sharks and Marlin.
The main reason they dive this spot so far from land is the Mobula rays migrate from all over the Atlantic to banks like this and in the summer, mid July until mid October, you can see huge groups of these rays- up to 70 at times!!! Normally, they are not shy about coming up close and provide great photo opportunities!
This is a 2 tank dive and you can snorkel with the rays during the surface interval.
Swimming with dolphins.
During these trip they do offer swimming with dolphins and you may be fortunate enough to get in the water and snorkel with 5 different species of dolphins- Common, Bottlenose, Striped, Risso and Atlantic spotted dolphins .
When they find the Dolphins, you can get in the water, 2 people at a time and rotate the whole group of 8 divers.
On these trips, they often encounter Sharks, Loggerhead turtles and Manta rays so its like a 3 to 4 hour ocean safari.
All whale watching is boat based so unfortunately you can’t get in the water with them.
During the summer they mainly encounter lots of sperm whales, pilot whales, false orcas and different species of beaked whales and of course the dolphins. But going into the open ocean you can encounter all sorts of other marine life so you never know what you might see.