5 independent reviews for Blue whale watching in the Azores, Pico Island

Reviews for Blue whale watching in the Azores, Pico Island

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review 8 May 2022

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

Seeing the whales, Hump back, Sperm Whales, Sei whales and Fin Whales.

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

Be prepared for any kind of weather. Itís very changeable and can go from extremely wet to hot and and sunny in a short space of time

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

Supported conservation and benefitted local people

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

Absolutely loved it

review 14 May 2022

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

Exciting - the daily encounter with whales and dolphins are memories I shall carry with me always. Thanks go to the whole team in enabling us to see so many animals each day. Memorable- the trips out to sea were exciting in themselves! Suddenly a call from a spotters tower, or one of us would spot a Ďblowí from a whale or dolphins playing ahead, or suddenly a whale would be seen surfacing after a long, deep feeding dive that was a chance find and we would rush, bouncing over the waves, to try to share some time with one of these magnificent animals ! Thank you. Memorable- the learning from Rui about whales and dolphins was second to none, from such a wonderfully knowledgeable specialist in his field. Sincere thanks. Memorable - the B&B being part of the local community and once the hosts grandfatherís house. Memorable - my adventures in the hire car on the Island of Pico. Loved the freedom to explore where I wanted and access the hyper-market for a wonderful variety of foods, including Azores cheese and wine.

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

Take sea sickness prevention with you even if you think you are going to be fine. Pico is a wonderful small island, upholding the importance of Sunday as a day of rest and /or religion. Largely it is to be expected the shops or petrol stations you may see, will not be open on your first day at sea, so make sure you buy water or more provisions if you are self catering.

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

Undoubtedly it supported a wide variety of local people, the whale/ dolphin team - surely the best in the business, the hotels, B&B, local shops, local places to eat, petrol station. Thereís absolutely no question that the knowledge being gathered over years, supports the conservation of the species. Further, those once involved in whale hunting, bring their knowledge to bear in the spotting towers, supporting the recreational relationship with these wonders of the oceanís

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

Absolutely wonderful in every respect. Do it

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Julie Thank you for your review and so glad you had such a wonderful vacation with spectacular sightings and leant alot from the expert guides and whale researchers. The cost of the vacation contributes to the whale and dolphin conservation work as well as funding the guides and researchers and rewarding their amazing service. I am aware you were not so impressed with the restaurants. It is a small Island and they lost a few restaurants due to the pandemic, so things are in a recovery stage with some aspects of tourism. We are already hearing of new restaurant ventures as numbers of tourists is almost back to pre pandemic levels! We are working with locals to encourage this "Bounce back " Wishing you more amazing wildlife vacations in the future and hope the memories of close encouunters at sea with mighty whales will stay with you for a long time!!

review 9 Jun 2022

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

Getting to ride in the RIB (so much fun!) and seeing plenty of whales and dolphins. Sadly didnít see the big Blue which was the main aim of the trip, we just werenít in the right place at the right time!

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

I donít suffer from sea/travel sickness at all but the first trip out on the RIB got me and several others! I would definitely recommend patches/tablets even if you donít think youíll need itÖyou just might! Also for any persons with limited mobility, this trip is doable and still very enjoyable but make sure youíve arranged assistance at the airports and that the tour company youíre booking with listens to your needs.

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

Yes, benefits to the local restaurants and shops, itís not as touristy as Sao Miguel so not as busy/crowded, itís good to contribute to the smaller places. Really respectful to the whales, some boats were trying to chase or crowd but our guide gave them space and was considerate.

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

Overall I had a great time and would love to do a similar trip in the future. Very organised with trips and the guide was great, so knowledgable and respectful. Not perfect thoughÖconsidering the company were informed of my mobility issues at the time of booking and again after, they werenít really listened to or advice/information offered around suitability. The land based trip wasnít suitable for a person with limited mobility so I think there should have been some provision for that or an alternative option, even if Iíd been able to pay for an extra boat trip instead. I ended up waiting at the coach with the driver until the group returned. Also my hotel room was on the top floor of a building that had no lift so that was an unwelcome struggle as a solo traveler. I would have rated this higher had the above issues not been a problem but that aside, the trip really was great and being part of a small group tour made it better for people on their own, the group got on really well. Iím just gutted that the Blues were there but we were out on the morning trip - they were spotted on the afternoon trip on at least 2 occasions! Thatís just the chance you take.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Clare We are delighted you had such amazing sightings and thanks for a wonderful review. It is very important to us to ensure guests who have mobiity needs are given what they ask for. I am so very sorry this did not happen. Your request for a ground floor room was missed and therefore was not on your accommodation voucher. If you had brought this to our attention we would have certainly arranged this as a priority for you and sincere apologies for the isunderstanding. Kind regards and wishing you vacations in the future that ensure your accommodation and tours are adapted to suit your needs.

review 11 May 2021

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

Seeing a blue whale for the first time in my life - and then for the second time and the third time and so on. Because there is more than one boat trip, you really get the chance to encounter them many times. Some were fluking, one changed direction and came towards the boat - it was absolutly fantastic.

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

the weather is crucial for the trips and since it can change quickly - be open and flexible. If you are vegetarians: as most islands, the menus contain lots of fish and other seafood - we can recommend the local restaurants which offer a daily changing vegetarian dish.

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

Sleeping in the hotel and eating in the restaurants benefits the locals; going with a motor boat on the ocean is not going to reduce environmental impacts, but the skipper and the rest of the team try not to disrupt the animals as good as possible (not going to close, only approaching from behind, not staying to long with the animals) and collect plastic in the ocean when they spot something. Them being able to collect data for scientific studies hopefully helps to conserve the habitat of the whales and dolphins.

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

From 1 to 10 we would give it a 12 - it is truly an amazing and breathtaking experience. The partner organization is very helpful and navigated us through all the obstacles due to covid-19. The scientist who acted as our guide is super friendly and he really knows a lot about the whales, the history of the island and patiently answers any question. From his presentations we learned so much about the evolution of the whales and the latest scientific findings and ongoing research.

review 19 May 2018

Im not normally inclined to book group vacations because Iím not really the sociable kind although in fulfilling my wifeís long held dream to go Whale Watching I had little choice given how everything is structured. After some research I decided the Azores was the place to go therefore I booked one weeks vacation through Amanda finally settling on Pico Island as the destination. Whale researcher Rui is the man on the ground working full time gathering data about the Azorean whales in order to collaborate with other researchers around the world for the enrichment of wider knowledge. This passionate, hard working, sharing and kind approach sums Rui up to a tee. He is literally the nicest guy you will ever meet and if you ever fancy learning what Rui doesnít know about whales, forget it because you will discover it to be a minuscule amount of knowledge. His care of our group together with handling the individuals within was a lesson in itself, all very polite, calm and done with caring humour although he ensured any jokes were always on him. Ruiís assistant Maria could be similarly described and was always caring, smiling and super enthusiastic. The 3 hour trips out to sea were truly amazing with many sightings of Blue, Sperm and Fin Whales together with several dolphin and turtle species. There were numerous other creatures to be expertly described by Rui ( the mans knowledge is unbelievable) therefore these trips were simply out of this world and went by like a flash. We were also educated as to the role of the spotters (and were fortunate to meet one spotter) who guided us to the animals, again learning how all this is achieved was a real pleasure. Regarding going out on the boat, I was very worried about getting seasick as Iím not good on the water, however just taking some travel sickness pills sorted that out and I didnít have any issues at all. Rui also conducted short seminars after the trips recapping on what we had seen and allowing us time to consider and ask questions. These were activities Rui didnít need to undertake, however his passion and enthusiasm wonít let him pass on the opportunity to share his fascination for these animals and all things nature in general. We had two group meals with Rui, one at the outset and one at the end which again were great company and great food together with more opportunities to ask questions if we wished. Our hotel was the the 4**** luxury upgrade option which occupies a stunning location together with very good accommodation although I would recommend hiring a car for the week as we did, thereby providing a much greater ability to get about the island during the afternoons. We also had a really good island tour which was very informative together with a trip to the lava tubes which again was awesome. Having read the above Iím sure any reader can now understand why I have taken the time to write this appraisal of our vacation, in short it was amazing and my thanks go to everyone involved with putting it all together and Rui & Maria in the azores for their hard working diligent attention to detail in order to ensure everyone had a great time therefore I wouldnít hesitate to book with you guys again. Regards Richard Christie

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