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Azores, Portugal



When thinking about pelagic life, most think about the Caribbean and Asian waters, with countless pelagic fanatics flocking there each year. Most don’t think about European waters like the Azores, an autonomous Portuguese territory consisting of nine islands located 1500 km west of the mainland. The Portuguese-speaking territory has stunning white-sand beaches and some of the most mesmerizing sites in the Atlantic.


Guests arrive in the Azores through the airport Ponta Delagada, located on São Miguel Island. From North America, visitors can fly in from Boston, Toronto, or through most European cities. The flight is usually around 4-5 hours. The other eight islands can be accessed through local flights. Guests can also take ferries between the islands, but the schedules can be inconsistent outside of the summer season. 


As a pelagic hotspot, guests often spot blue sharks, whale sharks, mako sharks, mobula rays, and manta rays in the Azores with rare sightings of Galapagos or smooth hammerhead sharks.  Resident and migratory whales can be seen breaking through the water’s surface, usually during excursions to Pico of Faial in May. Other creatures include crustaceans, cetaceans, yellowmouth barracuda, amberjacks, gully jacks, Atlantic bonito, wahoo, skipjack tuna, bigeye tuna, large groupers, sponges, crusting anemones, moray eels, octopus, nudibranchs, hermit crabs, and unicorn shrimp.


The Azores has a volcanic underwater landscape that differs from its tropical counterparts; instead of colorful corals, there are underwater canyons, caverns, and gullies. The underwater visibility is up to 40 meters and the water conditions are unpredictable. It is recommended to plan for boat cancellations due to weather. The water temperature is cooler than tropical waters, typically around 21ºC. A 7mm semi-dry suit with a hood and gloves is recommended. 



Princess Alice Bank is the most famous dive site in the Azores, located three hours from Pico of Faial. The water reaches 35-40 meters and has strong currents best suited for advanced divers. Groupings of up to thirty mobula rays can be spotted as well as blue sharks and the rare whale shark. 


Off the eastern shores of São Miguel and Santa Maria are the seamounts of Dollabarat. Explorers often catch sightings of devil rays, mobula rays, Galapagos sharks, and even smooth hammerheads.

For those looking to stay closer to land, Ambrósio is another pelagic hotspot just 40 minutes from Santa Maria. During the summer, manta rays flock there, and the island has the most whale shark sightings. Just 10 minutes from Faial is Shrimp Cave with candy-striped unicorn shrimp. The site is accessed through a small underwater corridor. History fans can dive along to the SS Dori wreck off the south coast of São Miguel.


Liveaboards are also common in the Azores to explore secluded, offshore dive sites with endless pelagic life. When diving at these sites, it is essential that divers have control over their buoyancy and are prepared to face strong currents.


Read more about the Azores' dive sites here


The dive season lasts from June to September with waters at their most calm and warm during June and August. The visibility is greater in September, although temperatures drop during this time. Overall, the water temperature ranges from 15ºC to 23ºC, and the air temperature ranges from 14ºC to 25ºC. The most rainfall is from October to March, and the air is consistently humid. 


We recommend Water and Wind for your Azores liveaboard adventure. The 13-meter Fountaine Pajot catamaran is all-inclusive and hosts up to eight divers. The Azores-based itineraries explore the archipelago and Santa Maria Island.


Ready for your AZORES adventure? Book with us today!

5 Best Sites for Diving in Azores Islands & Madeira

The 5 Best Sites for Offshore Diving in Azores Islands & Madeira, Portugal 

There is nothing quite like the breathtaking underwater world that is the Azores Islands and Madeira. These two stunning Portuguese islands boast some of the best scuba diving spots in the world. From coral paradises to spectacular island caves and beyond, there's something for everyone. Whether a beginner or an experienced scuba diver, these five sites are an absolute must to put on your diving itinerary.


Princess Alice, Pico Island, Azores

Take your scuba diving adventures to the Prince Alice dive site, one of the most famous sites in the Azores. The area attracts novice and expert divers thanks to its 50-foot depth. The underwater landscape is full of colorful coral, anemones, and sponges. And we can’t forget the incredible marine life you'll see beneath the water’s surface. The fish boast vibrant colors and the coral reefs are just as beautiful as the fish that live among them. 

Located offshore, you need to take a boat to get here and the ride itself is an adventure. You'll behold breathtaking views of dolphins swimming, splashing, and even playing with the boat's wakes among the crystal clear water. You can spot everything from the bottom, from the dwelling shrimp to giant sea turtles swimming overhead. You won't regret visiting this diving site, easily one of nature’s best works of art! 

Formigas Islets, Azores

Located in the Azores archipelago, Formigas Islets is another offshore diving site worthy of mention. It is home to unique geological formations and marine life. The waters around are home to thousands of sea lions and dolphins, making it one of the best places in Europe for scuba diving. There are more than 1,000 species of fish on Islets of Formigas, including rarer 

species like groupers, moray eels, and parrotfish. You'll find colossal sea turtles nesting on the beach and once you get back in the water, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful schools of barracuda, snappers, mullet, and tuna. 

The white sand beaches and the clear, calm waters of the islands of Formigas make it a tropical paradise. Bear in mind, there are times when the current can get intense. Whether you are a novice or experienced diver, plan to explore the islands’ waters with a guide. 

Santa Maria Island, Azores

Santa Maria is the smallest island in the Azores, but is mighty famous among scuba divers. The 90km island boasts ten beautiful dive sites to explore as you enjoy the Azores' limestone reefs and abundant marine life. The island is home to some of the oldest marine mammals in Europe, including humpback whales, dolphins, and porpoises. If you're lucky enough to spot one of these creatures while scuba diving, it's an experience you won't forget. Three Miles off Santa Maria is Ambrosio, another fantastic scuba diving site. Here you'll have a chance to swim with a school of barracuda, shacks, and devil rays. If diving with devil rays and sharks is not enough, the incredible Atlantic fauna and flora will leave you in awe. 

Porto Santo, Madeira

Looking to take your scuba diving gateway to another level? Then you must visit Portugal's Porto Santo. In deep waters, you'll find sunken shipwrecks such as the Corvette General Pereira d'Eça and Madeirense bursting with marine fauna and flora. The offshore site is home to different fish, sharks, rays, and turtles. The beauty and gracefulness of the spinner dolphins will take your breath away. If you want to combine scuba diving with snorkeling, no problem! Porto Santo has many coral reefs and underwater caves carved out by centuries of erosion. While snorkeling, you can see beautiful coral formations and even explore underwater caves. 

Garajau Nature Reserve, Madeira

Located off the north coast of Madeira Island and about 30 minutes from Funchal lies Garajau Nature Reserve. The reserves cover 7km of coast from Lazareto to Ponta da Oliveira. Along the beach are seven unique diving points: Arena, Galo, Garajau Beach, Pinaculo, Lazareto, Mamas, and Baia dos Porcos. This site boasts crystal clear water filled with abundant marine life. In the shallow areas of this marine reserve, you'll find colorful fish species including tarpon, barracuda, and lionfish. The deeper waters hold schools of barracuda that swim alongside large groupers, sharks, tuna, and marlin. After scuba diving, you can go on a guided tour through the park's cave to learn about marine life. 

Are you ready to make your Portugal scuba diving adventures a reality? Book a trip with Liquid Diving Adventures by contacting us today and we'll be happy to help you plan the perfect scuba diving gateway!

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