The first time you see a whale surface after a long, deep dive, you’ll find yourself gasping as well. There’s nothing to beat the exhilaration of a good sighting on a clear day – especially if you’re right down close to the surface of the water, as you will be if you’ve booked a trip on one of the Azores’ smaller whale watching boats.
Cetacean experts count São Miguel, Terceira, Faial and Pico among the best places in the world for reliable sightings of several whale species. This quintessential Azorean adventure is made possible by the distinctive underwater landscape. Deep currents rush between steep-sided volcanoes, bringing in nutrient-rich water which allows krill and squid to flourish. With such a plentiful feeding ground, sperm whales, the iconic Azorean species, make the archipelago their permanent home.
The region is also a destination of choice for migrating species such as humpback, pilot, fin, sei, beaked, bearded and even blue whales, the mightiest of all. These are drawn here in spring as they travel between their calving grounds in the tropics and feeding grounds further north. Using skills learned in the days of whale hunting, the Azoreans are such superb spotters that many whale watching outfits will offer your money back if you don’t see at least one whale or dolphin on a three-hour trip.