Whale & Dolphin Watching in the Azores

8 days
from
£1,799
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Leisurely
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Trip code: 
WSA8
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Premium
Activity:
Marine Wildlife
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

Discover one of Europe's top destinations for whale watching

Azores is a true paradise for nature lovers with blue lakes smothered in flowers, deep verdant craters of dormant volcanoes and breathtaking landscapes from the mountains. Each island of the Azores is home to a myriad of cultures and traditions that will leave a lasting memory. Our itinerary includes some excellent opportunities to see whales and dolphins off the coast of three islands in the archipelago of Azores and we learn about various conservation projects from the knowledgeable locals. During out time on Faial Island, we also have the opportunity to learn more about the various bird species attracted to this island thanks to its diverse landscape formed from volcanic activity. Finally we end our experience on the 'Green Island', or Sao Miguel, where lush colours of verdant pastures surround us on our visits to renowned Sete Cidades Crater and Fire Lakes.

Highlights

  • Spectacular varied scenery
  • Whale and dolphin watching tours included
  • Visit Sete Cidades Crater lakes and Fire Lake
  • Excellent birdwatching opportunities

Key information

  • 7 nights comfortable 4-star hotels 
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 years
  • Greater chances of Blue whale sightings in June
  • Travel by bus, boat and internal flights

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 5 lunches
  • All accommodation 
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights) and internal flights (for all clients, including land only)
  • Arrival and departure transfers (if travelling on group flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Ponta Delgada
to
Ponta Delgada
  • Day 1

    Fly to Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel Island.

    Fly to Ponta Delgada, on Sao Miguel island, the largest and greenest island of the Azores archipelago.
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 2

    Whale watching excursion; transfer to Furnas Valley to visit hot springs.

    The Azores are currently one of the world’s largest whale sanctuaries hosting more than 20 different types of resident and migrant species. We start the week off with a morning whale watching excursion offering the chance to spot whales and dolphins on our boat journey down to the south coast of the island. We arrive in Ribeira Quente, a fisherman's village and transfer to Furnas Valley by bus where we enjoy a spectacular meal of the famous Cozido das Caldeiras. This is a style of cooking that buries sealed pots in the baking earth. After lunch, we take in the sights of romantic lakes, winding pathways, exotic flowers and thermal waters in Park Terra Nostra, before continuing onto the hot springs. One of the most spectacular forms of volcanic activity we see here are fumaroles, which spout boiling water and medicinal mud. We return to Ponta Delgada and stop en route at the tea plantations of Gorreana where we visit the tea factory and taste the local black and green teas. Overnight in Ponta Delgada.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 3

    Fly to Pico; to Faial Island and Horta; visit Scrimshaw Museum.

    After breakfast we transfer to the airport for a short flight to Pico Island. From there we transfer to Faial on a 30 minute ferry. Faial is also known as the Blue Island thanks to all the blue hydrangeas that decorate the houses, divide the fields and line the roadsides. After checking in at our hotel, we enjoy a guided tour around Horta boasting a picturesque marina, primary stop for yachts crossing the Atlantic, and buildings covered with colourful paintings. At lunch we enjoy a delicious fish menu served at Peter’s Cafe Sport, the Azores' most famous pub which has been opened since 1918. In the afternoon we visit the Scrimshaw Museum and its impressive collection of engraved whales’ teeth and bones originating from the times when whaling in the Azores was still common practice. Later we meet a local biologist, who will brief us about the other whale watching activities over the coming week.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Whale and dolphin watching between Faial and Pico Islands.

    Today we embark on our whale and dolphin watching tour between the Faial and Pico Islands. There are 80 species of whales and dolphins on the planet and 25 of them have been sighted off the coast of the Azores, with the most common being Sperm whale, Bottlenose dolphin, Short-finned pilot whale; Atlantic spotted dolphin and the Blue whale. During our excursion, we observe the behaviour of these cetaceans and learn more about their habitat with the help of the knowledgeable local experts on board. We should always respect their environment and therefore during times of feeding or resting, we avoid any interference and maintain our distance. Please note this activity is completely dependent on sea conditions and if we cannot reschedule the tour, then an alternative visit to the vineyards of Pico Island will be offered.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 5

    Birdwatching around the coast of Faial Island to observe land and sea birds.

    Enjoy a full day visiting the beautiful land and sea of Faial Island - its fascinating islets, unusual rock formations from volcanic activity, picturesque windmills and lush green pastures offer an incredible variety of landscapes. Along the coast, we have a superb mix of land and seabirds to observe in their natural habitat, such as Tern Pink and nests of Seagulls in the Capelinhos Volcano as well as Shearwater and Bat, which are endemic to the Azores. We return to Horta for a short briefing from the University of the Azores on the ecology and conservation of various species of seabirds. In the evening, we walk down to the coast to hear some spectacular sounds from the Shearwater. These are nocturnal seabirds who come to the coast simply to breed and on their night-time visits, they often give eerie contact calls as they nest in burrows and lay their single white egg.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    Free day on Pico Island; swimming with dolphins (optional); fly to Sao Miguel Island.

    As Pico Island is only a short ferry trip from Horta, it is an excellent option for our free day. Due to its geological age, this island is considered the 'wildest' island in the Azores archipelago. With UNESCO declaring the exotic vineyards (that grow on rock) as a World Heritage Site, beaches that are called natural swimming pools and former whaling villages, there is a completely different character for us to discover here. For the bold and adventurous, perhaps heading back to sea and swimming with dolphins or manta rays is a more appealing option (for more information on this please see the 'optional excursions' section of the trip notes). There is also the opportunity to join the zodiac boat and go snorkelling. There is always a biologist and skipper on board to ensure every precaution is taken to protect the dolphin's habitat. In the evening we take a short flight back to Sao Miguel Island. Please note that choice of activities on the free day will be dependent on flight times.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Visit the crater lakes of Sete Cidades and the Fire Lake.

    There is some free time in the morning before heading out on our final adventure to explore the beauty of Sao Miguel island. Our 4WD excursion takes us through ravines and near volcano craters where we enjoy the wonderful landscape around Sete Cidades Volcano, including the Green and Blue Lakes. From Vista do Rei, we are rewarded with breathtaking views of tranquil lakes, blue hydrangeas bordering the crater rim that contrast with the steep sides of the crater. We then venture into this extinct volcano to visit the pretty village of Sete Cidades with its traditional architecture and verdant pastures. An opportunity not to be missed is to swim in the warm waters of Ferraria or Caldeira Velha (pool formed from a geyser). Our final treat is the Fire Lake in Barrosa Mountain, an enormous lake with jutting peninsulas and white sand beaches which is the perfect place to relax at the end of the day.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    Fly to London.

    After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flight to London.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Portugal

No visa required for British passport holders.

Vaccinations

Portugal

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 5 lunches are included.

Breakfasts are buffet style with a variety on offer including bread, jams cereals, and of course tea and coffee. For lunch, we usually enjoy a set menu with drinks included, except for day 4 where a picnic is provided. In the evening, the leader will recommend local restaurants that serve traditional Azores food, which can be a selection of meat or fish with vegetables and potatoes or rice. Vegetarians are well catered for in Azores as long as the hotels are advised in advance.

Weather

Is this trip for you?

This tour is graded 'Leisurely' and includes two whale and dolphin watching tours, an excursion through the wilderness of Faial Island and visits to Sao Miguel Island's famous Sete Cidades and Fire Lake by 4WD. We visit three islands of the Azores archipelago, with the option to spend more time on Pico on the free day. With the Azores' extinct volcano craters, wild landscapes covered in blue hydrangeas and stunning coastal cliffs, plenty of stops will be included so there is enough time to take the best photographs or simply admire the views. There will be some walking which is not technically difficult and should not present difficulties for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.The whale and dolphin watching excursions are not recommended for pregnant ladies or those with heart or back problems. As they depend completely on sea condition, the excursions can therefore never be guaranteed yet alternative activities will be offered. We will amend the itinerary over the week in order to provide the best chances to see whales and dolphins and if sea conditions remain the same for the duration of the week, we will instead offer a tour of Pico Island. The area is also subject to rain at any time so it is best to be prepared for this before you travel. On departures in May and October, it is best to bring warm clothes in case of colder weather.

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

4-star hotels

In Sao Miguel we usually stay at the 4-star family-run Hotel Camões, housed in a 19th Century building which was recently restored  and boasting interior design inspired by the Portuguese discoveries. The accommodation is conveniently located in the historic centre of Ponta Delgada and the rooms offer safe, TV, A/C, free WiFi and minibar.

In Faial we usually stay at Hotel do Canal, located on the picturesque ocean front of Horta, with a breathtaking view over the bay and Pico Mountain, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal. All rooms are equipped with air conditioning, TV, minibarm, tea and coffe facilities.

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 0208 772 3936