In The Whale Reserve

Posted On January 14, 2010 

Common Info

Azores is a Portuguese archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean about 1500 kilometres from Lisbon. Monchiquet Islet on Flores Island in the western part of the Azores is the western most tip of Europe. They were discovered way back in 1427 by Portuguese explorers and were colonised later by people of Portuguese and Flemish descent. The nine major Azorean islands and the Formigas in the eastern part of the Azorian archipelago extend for more than 600 kilometres and cover a total area of 2,346 square kilometres. Mount Pico on Pico Island is the highest point on the Azores (in fact the highest in Portugal). Azores also feature an immense exclusive economic zone. Azores comprise Sao Miguel Island, Faial Island, Sao Jorge Island, Terceira Island, Flores Island, Santa Maria Island, Corvo Island, Graciosa Island and Terceira Island. Ponta Delgada is the capital of Azores.

Sao Miguel Island

Country Info

Portugal is situated in the western most part of Europe and is bordered by Spain to the east and north and by the Atlantic Ocean in the west and south. The area of Portugal is 92,090 square kilometres. National capital is Lisbon. Azores and Madeira archipelagos also form part of Portugal. Portugal falls among the developed nations of the world.

Geography and climate of Azores

The region has ocean and subtropical climate. The average annual rainfall increases from east to west ranging between 00 to 1,600 millimetres annually. Rainfall is highest on Mount Pico (6,300 millimetres). Most of the islands in Azores have volcanic origin with Santa Maria Island having reef features. One can see lava of recent eruptions down the coastal area that have led to the formation of caves and sea arches. August is generally the warmest and February coolest month. Weather is mild maritime Mediterranean type with pleasant summers. Average temperatures range from 15-22 Celcius. Sao Miguel, which is the largest of island of the Azores, features crater lakes. Santa Maria, on the other hand, has sandy beaches.


Corys ShearwatersLaurisilva forest is found in the mountainous regions at the eastern end of Sao Miguel. Giant heather trees and bushes can be found here.


Azores Bullfinch is the only endemic bird of the Azores and is categorised as an endangered species. Azores Noctule bats are also found here. Cory’s Shearwaters and Roseate tern are also interesting birds that are found here. The Formigas, on the other hand, feature rich marine fauna like manta rays, sea turtles and sharks. Loggerhead turtles and fishes like marlin and swordfish are also top attractions of the Azores.

Whaling at the Azores

Whales are the biggest attractions of the Azores since the eighteenth century. Whalers have been visiting the Azores to hunt these animals against all odds and till recently, they used traditional boats and hand harpoons to tame the sea giants. Whaling today has been replaced by whale-watching business. There are two museums where one can relive the past experience of the gruesome trade.

Azores Whales

Azores is famous for the breathtaking whale-watching opportunity that it offers. May to October is the best time to view these creatures (they can be seen throughout the year but weather is not always favourable). During the peak season, one can witness 6-7 species on an average (sometimes even more) per tour. Sperm whales besides bottlenose and common dolphins are common sights. These Cetaceans throng the Azores islands often owing to the abundant supply of food here.

Azores whale watching


Besides Sperm whales, one can spot the Short-finned pilot whale, Blue whale, Humpback whale, Minke whale, pygmy sperm whale, False Killer whale, Sei whale, Northern Bottlenose, Sowerby’s whale,  True’s whale, Cuvier’s whale as well as various dolphins like Risso’s, spotted, striped can be found. The Orca or the Killer whales are also found. Sometimes, one has even spotted twenty different cetacean species on the coasts of the Azores.

Baleen Whales can be spotted in May and June when they migrate to their summer feeding grounds and pass close to the Azore islands en route. These big whales can also be seen during July and August.

Tourists can team up with the whale watching experts at the Whale Watch Base. They use their knowledge, experience and skill to take the best advantage to spot the whales. They use rigid hull inflatable boats to get the tourists close to the marine activities. ‘The Vigia’ on the shore guides the whale watching team from the local harbour out into the ocean and direct the boats by radio contact. And in this way, whale and dolphin watching emerges to be an almost cent percent successful venture.

How to reach Azores

Direct TAP Portugal and SATA International (based in Ponta Delgada) flights are available from Lisbon, Boston and Frankfurt. Connecting flights are also available from the US, UK and various European airports.

Attractions at Azores
  • Sete Cidades ValleyTrip on specially designed catamaran ‘Physeter’ for whale watching
  • Swimming with dolphins (‘Futurismo’ makes arrangements for whale watching and swimming with dolphins at Sao Migual and Pico islands
  • Jeep safari that includes Miradouro do Carvão, a magnificent region in the north coast of the island, Empadada Lake, Sete Cidades Valley and other places.
  • Whale Museum at Pico in Azores
  • Scuba diving
  • Summer time festivals at Azores
  • Walking trails
Whale watching operators: some well-known whale watching operators in Azores are
  • Aquaaçores  (web site:
  • Espaço Talassa (web site:
  • Futurismo (
  • Norberto Diver (
  • Peter Cafe Sport (web site:
  • Terra Azul – Dolphin & Whale Watching (web site:
  • Whale Watch Azores (web site:
  • Casa do Lado guesthouse on Faial Island
  • Bahia Palace Hotel
  • Do Colegio Hotel (both in Sao Miguel Island)
  • Marina Atlantico Hotel

Marina Atlantico Hotel

  • Avenida Hotel (both Ponta Delgada )
  • Santa Maria Hotel Vila do Porto
  • Praia De Lobos Hotel Vila do Porto (both in Santa Maria Island)
  • Quinta Da Nasce Agua Hotel Angra do Heroismo
  • Beira Mar Hotel Angra do Heroismo (both in Terceira Island)
  • Fayal Hotel Horta
  • Angra Garden Hotel Azores (in Faial island)
Tips during swimming with dolphins
  • Enter the water in a gentle manner and do not try to chase the dolphins. Wait and watch for their reactions
  • In case a dolphin approaches you remain calm and do not make any move or even do not try to touch the animal.

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11 Responses to “In The Whale Reserve”
  1. Brace says:

    This place seems to be very much silent in the world, very rare people must be knowing about this place.

  2. Carine says:

    All these places should be shown on TV to give knowledge and general information about the untouched beauties of the world.

  3. Dane says:

    I’m flattered by the way the author has presented the article. This article will amaze everyone who reads it. Highly obliged.

  4. Evita says:

    So many types of whales to be seen in wild? That’s amazing. Now a days, whales are vanishing day by day hope killers don’t attack here as well. Very soon its going to be an extinguished species.

  5. Gary says:

    what a scenic beauty this place is going to have. Truly class! What a way to explain about it.

  6. Hermoine says:

    I am already dreaming about this place and have started to make a plan on it and what to do there.

  7. Watson says:

    swimming with dolphins :) my favorite animal species! I just love them! My dream is to have a dolphin as a pet!

  8. Ron says:

    I am getting Goosebumps after reading about whales and dolphins! Simply great and endangered species of the world! Please help me to save them!

  9. jacob says:

    open jeep safaris! Hanging around wild animals in open, this is something thrilling! There are so many activities to enjoy :)

  10. Jasmine says:

    scuba diving, safari, whales, dolphins, summer fests. This is really going to be exciting!

  11. Josh says:

    thanks for giving the operators details as I reckon that will be the most difficult things to do. Its always good to be prepared first and then your always ready for action.

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