The Azores is a big area and full of marvellous scenery with mountainous countryside, extinct volcanoes and shorelines that will send you crazy for a peak below the essentially clean, clear waters of the mid Atlantic.
There are some excruciatingly steep, straight from shore walls/drop-offs and gullies that contain a myriad of marine life even in the apparent un-proposing parts of the islands – many of which have little offshore islets and rock points. There is a lot of marine plant/algae to enrich the marine ecosystems.
For the first time visitor flying from Europe (now much more easily) direct or via Funchal (Madeira) the principal island is Sao Miguel where one will find Ponta Delgada on the south coast and a couple of dive outlets. The sites are from land and by Rib…the marine life is immediate and extensive, especially for photographers.
To dive (all) the Azores, plan a lifetime of visits and for sojourns of at least two weeks because it’s going to grab you and wet your dive appetite for more (not exactly of the same) but with so many opportunities and possibilities its not going to be easy making do with a weeks’ diving.
So where to start? ScubaFish and Acordiving are actually in the centre of Ponto Delgada. Where to stay? The hotels in town are your average modern 4 star types without beach but with pools. You can find options on the Azores internet pages.
For those who like to be right on the beach a little outside of town, try the Aparthotel Barracuda at Sao Roque only 7kms from airport – a 3star venue with comfortable rooms, good breakfast, self cater facility, friendly service – they speak good English too. There are local rocks and coastline to go snorkelling at each end of beach.
Bus service is adequate if a little confusing at first but all rides start & end in Ponto Delgada. Taxi from airport is approx €13.00 and local shops are quite cheap with lots of local grown produce – bigger supermarkets are also in sufficient numbers. Restaurants and bars are all of good quality and average prices (some being cheaper than Blighty)….opposite the Barracuda there is an excellent Pizza/Pasta and a couple of good bars.
One shore dive went to Caloura where John Cockshott has a delightful base with straight off shore dives…the other dives are off the Sao Roque rock for 8-10mt tank dives where snorkelling is also excellent & one can walk there from the Barracuda as well.
For all advice on diving Sao Miguel contact a very knowledgeable Andres at Scubafish (below) and other info can be reached over the author also (below) Is it family holiday place too? Yes, it’s got interests and cetacean watching, plus excursions to caves and hot springs plus the magnificent green& blue lakes of the great volcanic area called Sete Cidades.
Dives cost between €30-40 per…take a good semidry…water temp around between 15-20ºc (warmer on the beach). Visibility is out of storm times, excellent.
- Not strictly diving, but whale watching is great
- Formigas Rocks are located 20 miles offshore. Interesting formations, variety and the opportunity to see very large fish and is one of the hot spots in the North Atlantic. Dollabarat is a pinnacle 3 miles from the Formigas. The pinnacle rises from several hundred metres up to 4 metres and is probably the best place to see sharks. Baixa Ambrosia is a pinnacle at 42mtrs.
- The liberty ship “Edwin L Jones” ex D-Day transport which lies in some 20mts of water and shrouded in fish – especially bream – but also lots of tube worms and a white coral that’s interesting when you can find its hideaway.
- Travelling to the Azores is usually via Lisbon.
- The Azores is one of the best places in the world to see wild Dolphins.
- The season is principally May to October though October can be a bit rainy or even stormy.
|Diving season:||April to October|
|Water temperature:||Winter 16C (61F)|
|Summer 23C (74F)|
|Air temperature:||Winter 13C (55F)|
|Summer 26C (79F)|