Azores whale and dolphin research vacation, 6 days

“In one of the best places in the world to see cetaceans, this six-day whale and dolphin watching vacation goes one step further with full days at sea and a chance to contribute to an ongoing research project.”


Full days at sea on a 12m stable catamaran | Guided by a marine biologist and leading cetacean expert | On average six to eight species spotted each vacation | Contribute to an ongoing cetacean research project | Horta | Free time to explore Faial Island

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28 May 2019
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01 Jun 2019
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07 Sep 2019
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11 Sep 2019
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Azores whale and dolphin research vacation, 6 days


We have been operating tours since 1993 and over the years, have acquired a lot of knowledge on ways to approach the various species we observe that cause a minimum of disturbance. If we detect any signs of disturbance or avoidance, we will not chase the animals. Since our trips to sea are for the whole day, we do not have to race other boats to get to an animal first; we can take our time. Identification photographs are taken of several species. These photos enable us to track their long-distance movements. Success with sperm whales, showing movements of the females between the Azores and Canary Islands and the males from the Azores to Norway. Humpback Whales have been matched between the Azores and Cape Verde Islands. Several blue whales have been identified in multiple years, indicating a preferential migration route. Students have used bottlenose dolphin photographs for several theses, showing that these animals are resident in the Azores.
Since the main waste disposal on the islands is landfill, all of our clients are urged to leave any extra packaging at home. We also ask that they take used batteries back home when they leave. We encourage guests to use a water bottle filled from a tap, rather than drinking bottled water. We no longer have a paper brochure or pre-departure booklet. Recycling is done whenever possible, although facilities are limited on the islands.
Clients are reminded that water is a precious resource and they should turn off the tap, when brushing their teeth, or in the shower while lathering up in order to use less.
The Azores is rich in renewable energy sources. Several islands have geothermal and most now have wind turbines, providing up to 25% of the energy.
We use local transportation for transfers from the airport. The boat uses diesel, so is more efficient than petrol engines used by RIBs.
Most of the food that we consume during the tour has been grown or manufactured on the islands, with the exception of fruit, which is shipped from the mainland. The Azores fishery is listed as one of the sustainable fisheries in Europe, using pole & line to catch most of the species and it doesn't have to travel far to reach your dinner plate. The meat is also sourced locally and in the countryside, you can see the cows in the fields.


During your stay here, you have a day to explore the islands on your own. We recommend various options available, such as jeep tours, taxi tours, where you could go walking and museums you should visit. These are operated by local people, rather than an extension of our company. Options for your shore day lunch and evening meals are discussed the day before, so you can choose to try somewhere new, or go back to one of the restaurants that we use regularly.
We were involved in the creation of the first guidelines for whale watching in the Azores and continue to provide input on issues such as swimming with dolphins to the local authorities.
We have participated in local clean-ups of beaches and riverbeds. We share information on the negative effect that plastic rubbish in the sea has on marine life.
We employ a local skipper to operate the boat during the tours. We also use a lookout to spot the animals for us during the tours. Lisa is employed as the biologist during the tours, and although not locally born, she has spent most of her adult life working with the marine mammals of the Azores and promoting responsible watching of them.
Guests are encouraged to visit local museums which detail the history of the culture of the Azoreans, the culture of whaling as well as the botanic gardens which highlights the endemic plants of the islands. We make sure that the clients are aware that all of the scrimshaw that they see for sale in the shops is not allowed to be transported into the UK or US because it is covered under CITES, the trade in endangered species, and we do not want to create a market for these carvings which come from the teeth and bone of the whales. We point out where they can buy these types of carvings made out of cow bone, wood or vegetable ivory.
We remind our guests that the Azores are predominantly Catholic islands and they should respect that by dressing conservatively. We suggest that if they would like to take a photo of a local, they should ask permission before doing so. Our pre-departure booklet has some useful Portuguese phrases that clients can use to say Good Morning, Afternoon, please & thank you.

1 Reviews of Azores whale and dolphin research vacation, 6 days

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 15 Jun 2018 by

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

Seeing the whales at close quarters, particularly a mother and calf on our firs day at sea.

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

If there is any possibility you might be seasick take medication before you go out to sea. On all three days I went out at least one person was sick and so was
unable to enjoy the whale watching.

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

Yes. The whale watching trips were very respectful of the wildlife, and were also used to record information about the local whale population. We were also
taken out to local restaurants that benefitted the local economy.

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

It met my expectations and was really enjoyable. I saw lots of whales. I only wish the weather had been better, as there was high winds and rain, and only one sunny day.

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