In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by blue waters hosting over 3000 marine life species, the Azores is a true megafauna and pelagic diving hotspot. Meet blue sharks, mantas and schooling mobula rays, explore stunning offshore pinnacles or simply dive shallow wrecks and reefs all day long.
Diving in The Azores
An archipelago of nine volcanic islands lying in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores is an undeniable playground for scuba divers. Around 1500km west of Lisbon, the Azores has a subtropical climate and rich waters full of plankton, krill and small fish, which attracts marine megafauna in abundance and divers from around the world.
The Azores unique underwater topography is characterised by huge boulders, caverns, canyons and impressive seamounts. All of which provide a backdrop for more than 100 dive sites and host over 3000 marine life species. From plentiful macro life through to mantas, mobula rays, numerous sharks, turtles and whales, you can meet them all when you go scuba diving in the Azores.
With water visibility reaching up to 60 meters, diving in the Azores is incredible whichever islands you choose to dive from. There are plenty of deep and drift dive sites to explore, plus famous World War II shipwrecks in shallow waters and coastal reefs teeming with vibrant life.
Go diving at the Central Islands and discover thriving offshore pinnacles, including at the world-famous Princess Alice Bank, where you’ll find schooling fish, rays and sharks. The peaceful Occidental Islands have the least diving facilities but more than make up for it with numerous mobulas, manta rays and migrating whales.
Home to over 20 species of whales, including beaked, sperm, fin, blue, humpback and false killer whales, the Azores is a premier whale-watching destination. You can go Azores diving and see whales all year, but June to October is the best time to visit for the chance to see whales and dive with mantas, mobulas and whale sharks.
With an average water temperature of 23 °C in summer and 16 °C in winter, there is no bad time to go diving in the Azores. There are Azores dive centers throughout the islands and an Azores dive resort on Sao Miguel Island, which makes it easy to dive from the different islands. For a laid-back Azores diving holiday, you can even join Azores sailing liveaboards.
Best places to dive
Pico Island & Faial Island
Lying roughly 50 miles from Pico and Faial islands, Princess Alice Bank is the Azores’ most famous dive site. This spectacular seamount has water visibility up to 60 meters and is surrounded by pelagic fish, hammerheads, blue sharks, mobula rays, dolphins and even black marlin. With a depth of 30 to 40 meters, it’s well worth taking a dive course in the Azores to have the skills to dive there.
As well as being the departure point for Princess Alice Bank, Faial Island is the place to go for blue shark diving. The Azores is one of the only places in the world where you can swim with blue sharks and the Condor seamount off Faial Island is the best place to do so. Because Pico and Faial are so close together, you can also enjoy fantastic Azores diving in the Faial-Pico channel and at the Espalamaca Fumaroles, where you can see active volcanic springs and bubbles rising from the seabed.
Sao Miguel Island
The famous SS Dori wreck is the highlight of Sao Miguel Island. Built in World War II, the SS Dori is a wartime ship that took part in Operation Overlord and sank in 1964. Sitting just 20 meters below the surface, she is a popular shallow wreck and is in good condition. Being in protected waters, the wreck hosts plenty of fish life including large schools of jacks.
One of the larger islands in the Azores, Terceira has plenty of dive sites including an underwater archaeological park in the Bay of Angra. Home to the wreck of the Lidador, the park offers shallow wreck diving at just 8 meters deep and is a great spot for night dives and underwater photography. Make sure you dive Terceira’s Coral Valley for fields of colourful soft corals and go diving with schools of bat rays at Bat Ray Cave.
Santa Maria Island
Santa Maria’s waters are packed with life, making this island popular with snorkellers and divers alike. If you want to swim with whale sharks, Santa Maria is the place to dive during summer, or you can go diving off Ambrosio to meet schooling mobula rays. Don’t miss the Formigas Islands off Santa Maria. These islands provide access to Dollabarat Bank, where you’ll find Galapagos sharks, mantas, turtles, schooling tuna and passing hammerhead sharks.