It remains a magical experience to spot wild dolphins or whales in the sea. Not only because these animals are so incredibly beautiful, but also because the boat trip itself creates the necessary tension and everyone starts screaming as soon as one of the two is spotted. As far as we are concerned, this is a unique experience and therefore it should definitely be on your bucket list.
Searching for Dolphins and Whales Around the Azores
One of the best places in Europe to see dolphins and whales can be found in the Azores, among others. Many different whale species can be found in the Atlantic Ocean and the chance that you will actually see them around the Azores is quite high in the right season.
With a Little Luck and Seasickness
We were in the Azores in March, just before the real whale season, and already on our first day in Sao Miguel went out to sea with a boat to look for dolphins and whales. We were able to fully enjoy the first and saw dozens of them, but despite a considerable boat trip, we were unfortunately unable to find the last one. So you have to have a bit of luck, especially if you already make such a tour out of season and it is also an advantage if you do not suffer from seasickness. The waves can be quite big around the Azores and bags are handed out for a reason when you get on the boat. So pack seasickness pills just in case you plan to take such a tour.
Whale and Dolphin Watching During Your Vacation in the Azores, What Can You Expect?
There are about 25 cetacean species around the Azores. The reason that so many species are present has to do with the nutritious water, but also because of the location of the islands. This is beneficial during migration or when whale pups are born. There is never a guarantee that you will spot one or more whales when you take a boat trip, but it is a fact that many species swim around this archipelago. The same goes for dolphins, turtles and other marine life.
Whether you will actually be able to shoot such a beautiful tail photo during such a trip is also the question. In any case, not all whales have such a typical whale tail and when you see them, you have to wait and see whether the boat is still enough in the wavy sea.
In Search of Water and Birds
You may wonder how boats know exactly where whales or dolphins are present in that gigantic ocean. Actually, there are several ways you can find them. First of all, from the boat you can keep an eye out for birds flying above the sea, but also by looking for spraying water. Birds often fly above other boats, but sometimes also above whales. Furthermore, dolphins sometimes spray water and whales can also cause splashing water. So these are both signs that they may be around.
Whale Watching With the Help of Onshore Lookouts and Spotters
Boats around the Azores also receive directions from spotters ashore at lookouts. These so-called spotters are present along a large part of the coast. Sometimes in a watchtower and other times just somewhere along the road. Just like in the old way, a person is actually standing on the islands with binoculars and very good eyes, peering out at the sea.
As soon as they have the idea that whales or dolphins are present in a place, they transmit the GPS coordinates to the boats of the Whale Watching Tours by radio. The reason they don’t use computers, drones or other equipment is because they don’t want to affect the whales and their habitat with disruptive signals. Moreover, it is a practice that has been around for centuries in the Azores, although whales used to be spotted not for excursions but for hunting.
Whale Watching in the Azores at Sao Miguel With Futurismo
We did a Whale Watching Tour from Sao Miguel when we were in the Azores, the chance of seeing a whale there is around 65%. Would you rather take such a day trip on another island? Then you can also choose the island of Pico or Faial.
In the port of Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel you will find the Futurismo office and every morning at 08:30 and every afternoon at 13:00 a boat leaves for a tour. These tours often last 3 hours and in the high season you pay 55 euros for this and 50 euros per person in the low season. We also made our trip from here.
What Does Such a Tour From Sao Miguel Look Like?
When you join a tour, you will receive an explanation about whales, dolphins and marine life in advance. For example, it is explained that it is forbidden to get too close to whales or dolphins, so that is also the reason that they stay at an appropriate distance with the boat if you see sea life.
For example, the dolphins may come closer on their own. They also tell more about pollution in the sea and how important it is not to further pollute the sea with, for example, plastic.
You will also receive a life jacket as soon as you board and a few things will be explained about seasickness. You can get plastic bags on board, but it is also recommended to take seasickness pills beforehand if you often suffer from it and it is also smart to stay outside so you can look at the horizon.
Fancy Somewhere for Lunch After Whale Watching Around Sao Miguel?
If you are looking for a nice and good place to have an extensive lunch after your Whale Watching Tour around Sao Miguel, then you should definitely go to the Anfiteatro Restaurant from Futurismo in Ponta Delgada. They serve a divine multi-course lunch and very good wine there.