Dolphin and Whale Watching in the Azores with Terra Azul in Vila Franca do Campo.
The Azores archipelago has one of the best habitats in the world for marine mammals with more than 24 species (25% of the world’s known species) spotted in its waters the coast. The Islands provide a natural sanctuary in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean for both migrating and resident species so it’s the place to be, rather the to go to sea world in the world. Eco tourism is an upcoming trend and it defiantly worth doing it once, the Azores are the perfect place for this.
Whales play an important role in the history and culture of the Azores. Yankee whalers started hunting here for these mammals here in the 17th century and by the mid 18th century, whaling was the largest industry on the islands. The traditional open small boat and a harpoon technique was used, this ended in 1985. Two traditional boats are still on display in the marina of Vila Franca do Campo and in the shopping mall ‘Parque Atlantico‘ in Ponta delgada.
Many species of cetaceans are drawn to the islands, mainly due to the abundance of food, so so you’ll have a good chance of seeing one on a whale watching excursion. The sheltered conditions particularly suit the Sperm whale and Short finned pilot whale, providing a perfect nursery and a plentiful food supply all year round, especially since whaling was halted in 1987. A huge variety of dolphins including Bottlenose, Common, Risso’s, Atlantic spotted and the Striped dolphins are regularly sighted. We were blessed for seeing the common and the bottlenose dolpin.
The best time for whale watching in the Azores is from April to June, when many migratory species of whales are regular visitors. They can be seen at other times of year, but sightings are less reliable. You’ll have a good chance to see Blue, Fin, Sei, Humpback, Minke, Northern Bottlenose, False Killer Whales, Sowerby’s Beaked whales and evenOrcas. Orcas have been difficult do see in the latest years, so if you see one, good for you.
The Azores whale watching was born in 2001 under the motto “Eco tourism, Education and Conservation. Terra Azul offers you the change to experience an excited and delightful experience at sea to witness the magnificent sea wildlife that the Azores has to offer. You can also see the beautiful landscapes and views on Sao Miguel from the sea, which gives you another perspective on the island.
The whale watching tour starts from Vila Franca do Campo. The company, Terra Azul, is based in the marina, in the centre/south of São Miguel Island, one of the island’s best places for whale watching. The company aims at providing clients with unique and unforgettable experiences. They ‘ll also provide a swim vest and a raincoat if needed. Their goal is to foster new relations between people and nature, as well as stimulating a deeper knowledge about the great diversity of the Azores marine wildlife. They often help to clean the ocean, if they come across plastic or any other form of pollution they will remove it. If for example, if a sea turtle should be in danger they will surely provide help if possible.
The boats of Terra Azul are yellow rigid inflatable boats (RIB) that race across the waves in the search of marine life. The light weight powerboats are extremely stable and its a totally different experience then other boats we’ve been on. Still that didn’t help for those of us who get seasick 🙂 Due to their low center of gravity, you sometime have the feeling you are floating on the water. These boats are specifically designed to make you feel safe and approach the whales and dolphins as close as possible whilst disturbing the animals as little as possible. Their vessels are in total accordance with the regulations of the Whale Watching conduct for whale watching in the Azores.These excursions are based on the concepts of Eco -tourism, education and conservation. There’s a ‘lookout’ on a high point on land, built specifically for whale and Dolphin spotting. From this watchtower the crew scan the horizon for the animals, so they can lead the boats towards them. They look for the ‘blow’ which can be up to 9 meters high. Some of the crew members have over 50 years experience. Thanks to this method, 99% of the trips are successful! The staff is very professional and friendly.
On our adventure we came across fin whales, Common dolphins and bottlenoose dolphins, with our last stop being the island off the coast of Vila Franca do Campo, Ilhéu da Vila.It is an ancient volcano, where birds breed and live quietly. But also a place where people come to swim and sunbathe in the shallow crater during the summer. A boat ferry sails regularly up and down in season. Ilhéu da Vila means small island, and there are about twenty off the Azores.
Whale watching in the Azores
Marina da Vila, loja 6 Vila Franca do Campo
Sao Miguel, The Azores.
Tel.: +351 296 581 361
Fax: +351 296 581 361
More information on Vila Franca Do Campo you’ll find here: