Blue Whale tour in the Azores

“Blue whales migrate through these Atlantic waters each May, and this tour offers the chance to observe them in the company of an expert whale watching guide.”

Highlights

Blue and sperm whale sightings | Chance to see pilot whales, orcas and seven species of dolphin | Turtles and manta rays | Visit to 'vigia' lookout tower | Optional: jeep tour of island, wine tasting at vineyard, hiking and nature walks, snorkelling, botanical gardens, cycling, visiting caves

Map

Check dates

2017: 7 May, 14 May
Our top tip:
If you have back problems or just fancy a little more comfort, opt for one of the catamarans. RIB trips are thrilling, but are bumpy and can aggravate back pain.
Trip type:
Small group.
Activity level:
Leisurely.
Accomm:
7 nights in a 4* hotel, breakfast included.
Solos:
Solo travelers welcome. Single rooms available with surcharge.
Included:
Accomm., 3 half or full days at sea, some meals, UK tour guide, transfers.
Meals:
All breakfasts. Onboard lunches and 2 dinners inc. in Faial tours.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Blue Whale tour in the Azores

Environment

The way the boats approach the whales follow local regulations to protect the marine life. We only use licensed boat operators who are very sensitive to the well-being of the dolphins and whales. There is a good spirit of cooperation amongst the boat companies and agreements to respect the animals as a priority.

Research is ongoing on the boats, so these trips are helping to build our knowledge of these fantastic animals. Many of the skippers are professional photographers and maintain a comprehensive photo ID database, in particular sperm whales, bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales. The more we can learn about the whales and dolphins of the Azores the better we can understand things like their migrations and social structures. All this moves us closer to protecting them and the marine environment in a more knowledgeable, effective way.

Guests are encouraged to send in any photos they have taken on the whale watching trips that can be used in the ongoing photo identification projects. Every trip has a huge emphasis on conservation and sustaining the marine environment so future generations may also have the privilege of seeing marine mammals in the wild.

Community

We only work with local suppliers who employ at least 80% local people which means financial benefits to families here. The land based lookouts whose immense skill at tracking the animals previously earned money from whaling now earn money from tourists - an enormous change that we are passionate about supporting. Many of their adult children now skipper the whale watching boats and work within the small scale tourism.

Our whale watching company offers presentations in local schools to educate the children about the marine life on their doorstep with an emphasis on conservation. They are also planning to host an Azorean Whale Festival to promote the islands as one of the key locations worldwide to see whales. The Dolphin and Whale Connection donates a percentage of it's profits to the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA), helping to protect whales and dolphins worldwide.

All the activities we recommend locally are run by Azoreans and are designed to maintain good relationships between visitors and the local people. For example, we sell and promote only local crafts to our guests to support local craft makers and artisans and to spread tourism income to many islanders. Our favourite restaurants are all run by Azorean people, and we do recommend that our visitors try the delicious local cuisine while supporting sustainable local fishermen in particular.

As well as whale watching we offer geological and cultural tours hosted solely by experienced local guides with an in-depth knowledge of their island and its landscape. We support the local vineyards where guests can sample the fantastic Azorean wine and take these locally produced gifts back to people at home.

Reviews of Blue Whale tour in the Azores

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 01 Jun 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Very difficult to say as there were so many memorable moments: seeing five sperm whales "socialising" together and swimming in a perfect line, almost managing to synchronise their "blows", catching a great picture of the tail fin of the massive blue whale, seeing the huge side fins of the humpback just under the water giving them an eerie blue colour, or probably the best of all seeing first a pod of c10 orca cavorting in front of us, the male one with a massive fin of more than 2 metres in height, and then about an hour later seeing either the same animals again or a different pod, this time as two smaller groups. This is not to mention all the amazing pods of dolphins we saw, common, bottlenose, risso and striped plus false orca which we did not even know existed until the scientist on board identified them.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take some warm clothes including a waterproof/windproof top coat, preferably things that can be layered as, despite the sun, the wind can be very cold when on board especially when the boat is going quite fast tracking down a sighting which may be several miles away out at sea. Take high level sun block.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


This vacation definitely supported conservation; the information that our scientist on board was gathering was being fed into international databases capturing details about migratory whales and photo-matching individuals. Local people were employed to help run the vacation and without exception everyone in our group ate at a variety of local restaurants. The local economy benefited by members of the group buying souvenirs and taking part in local tours when not out at sea.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


We would rate our vacation somewhere in between 4 and 5 stars; not sure we could honestly say we were "reborn" but this has certainly been the vacation of a lifetime.
We were very lucky with the sitings we had; literally being more or less in the middle of the Atlantic, which is vast, and being able to "find" these creatures is amazing in itself; the scientist on board was very knowledgeable, friendly and keen to share her knowledge. The animals' well being was always the most important factor and so we did not stay long at each siting to allow the whales the freedom to continue with their journey. Overall the vacation was brilliantly managed.

Reviewed on 28 May 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Whales, whales and more whales, plus lots of dolphins.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take warm clothes for the boat and travel motion remedies as the swell can be quite something

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Boat company were very responsible when viewing the animals in order to minimise their stress. All the staff were local to the area.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent experience on all counts, good animal sitings, good hotel and beautiful islands.

Reviewed on 05 Jun 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


During our first week on Faial, being lucky enough to see our first blue whale within an hour of setting out in the catamaran.Then seeing over 50 whales (blue, fin, sei, sperm ) and over 100 dolphins (common ,bottlenose, rissos ) over the three days.It was amazing.
During our second week on Sao Miguel,walking round the beautiful gardens in Ponta Delgada...and Terra Nostra in Furnas,with all its other fascinating landscapes. Driving up to Sete Cidades for the second time,this time on a clear day,and walking by the lake in the sunshine.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


The vacation provider listened to our requests and tailor made the vacation
for us.If you want to see whales then Faial is the island for you,the Hotel do Canal in Horta is really comfortable and Lisa Steiner is an excellent and very knowledgeable guide. Being on the small catamaran gives the best opportunity to see whales. On Sao Miguel I recommend hiring a car for some of the time to see as much as you can.However the trip guides are really helpful and very knowledgable too so you really learn a lot about the island and its history.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes,we spent money in the hotel, shops, cafes, car rental and with tour guides.
The operator gives guidance on being environmentally aware and we
followed their advice. The whale watching trips supported research into whale and dolphin conservation.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Fantastic! We saw everything we hoped for ...and more.
The Azores are an amazing vacation destination,we will be back.

Reviewed on 28 May 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Seeing so many whales and dolphins, the group I was with, the fantastic hotel I stayed in

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Pick the exclusive trip, I think there is a bonding when there are only 12 people, compared if there were a lot more people. Also you get longer at sea, and ask for Horta, it was so beautiful, also for all that you get, it works out so cheap, I don't understand how they can give you so much for that price?

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Supported conservation

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Magical

Reviewed on 07 Jun 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Seeing far more whales, & more closely, than I ever expected.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Check on the information given about daily talks & presentations included in the
cost of the vacation; we had just one.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I think it supported conservation.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


A wonderful experience.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Anne

Thanks for your review and glad you had a wonderful vacation with so many whales

The expert guide who accompanied you on the full day boat trips has 35 years experience as a researcher in The Azores. Most of our guests found her extensive knowledge very informative. She always makes herself available on the boat to share this information and invites people to ask questions and as it is a small group, everyone can listen to her answers.

We were under the impression that all day on the boat there are opportunities for information. I think the guide tends not to offer too many formal presentations as it can be too much for some people who are not very scientific, so I am sorry you were expecting more in that way.

Did you ask her to describe any aspects of cetacean science and research? I am sure she would have happily shared her extensive knowledge with you if she had known.

Reviewed on 28 May 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Seeing the ocean giants so close it was amazing

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Book this experience but add on to it an extra week visiting the other islands

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


The company carries out research and so raises awareness of the whales and dolphins and how amazing they are
The information given by Lisa and Nortbuto was fantastic
They work with the university and so are not just taking out vacation makers but informing student research as we'll

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent

Reviewed on 29 Jun 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


amazing observations of the Cetaceans

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Not to hesitate: more than 100% worth it.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes without any doubt

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Reviewed on 26 Jun 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The Blue Whales

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


There weren't any things I wasn't prepared for.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Research into cetaceans.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent

Reviewed on 07 Jun 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


- Crystal blue seas and skies
- Seeing so many whales and dolphins in their natural habitat and on their own terms, with human beings having to play second fiddle for a change
- The passion, knowledge and genuine love of their work shown by all the guides
- The group bonding that derives from a common shared experience


2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


- Take waterproof trousers and a fleecy gilet plus a thin fleecy jumper to wear under the jackets provided. It can get cold on the boat, especially if your clothes get wet. Also a headband or hat to protect your ears against the wind and sun.
- Be aware that this is not a BBC wildlife programme, so come with realistic expectations of what you might see. You might not actually see very much of the whales themselves unless they happen to breach right out of the water or come close to the boat. Most of the animal is below the surface. A camera/videocam with a good zoom or a pair of binoculars gives a much enhanced view, but take a plastic bag to protect from salt spray.
- If you stay at the hotel be prepared to have to spend additional money on a taxi to and from the whale-watching base. The hotel provides transport there and back for the boat trip, but if you want to go back down to the harbour again later on it is at your own expense (about 5 euros a trip). With hindsight the harbour hotel would have been more convenient, although the hotel we stayed in was beautiful, comfortable, and had a good restaurant.
- Get a clear understanding of what the additional organised trips involve before you book. Some involve rough or steep terrain which might prove difficult for the elderly or those with mobility problems. But well worth going on, especially the indigenous flora and fauna one.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, yes and yes. All the guides at the base were local people who had a deep commitment to animal welfare and to minimising the environmental footprint of our vacation. Trees are planted to offset the fuel used by the boats. We witnessed tagging of turtles, research into the behaviour of Risso's dolphins, photo ID of whales to monitor their migration routes, and the clearing of debris from the waters to keep the ocean clean. In addition the vacation boosts the local tourist trade through restaurants, bars and taxis etc.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


This was the most wonderful week ever. I cannot thank Espaco Talassa and the operator enough. I would not hesitate to go back again, and very much hope to do so in the future.

Reviewed on 03 Jun 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Being out on the water with dolphins and whales.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


No need to go through an agent just book flights and look for accommodation on the net , hire a car all very easy.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


The organisation of the agent was not always of a high standard. I would suggest the agent at least offers to book flights as TAP is not easy to log onto.

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