Whale Watching – Pico Island, Azores

The Azores archipelago is comprised of nine islands lying in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between the US and Portugal. The Azores rank as one of the world’s top whale and dolphin watching destinations. One third of all cetacean species either inhabit or migrate through Azorean waters. The islands themselves are a nationally protected area designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2009.

April is primetime for whale watching in the Azores. In addition to resident sperm whales and dolphins, baleen whales (blue, fin, and humpback) are migrating through. Most whale watching excursions depart from Sao Miguel, Pico and Terceira.

We chose Sao Miguel and Pico for our starting points and our day on the water from Pico was remarkable. In a little over five hours, we spotted two blue whales, two fin whales, and two sperm whales. We also encountered loggerhead sea turtles, Cory’s shearwaters, and skuas along the way.

whale watching Azores
Blue whale breaking the surface. Pico Island, Azores.
whale watching Azores
Blue whale tail fluke – Pico Island, Azores.
birding Azores
Cory’s shearwater. Almost 75% of the world’s population nests in the Azores.
whale watching Azores
Loggerhead sea turtle, the most common sea turtle encountered on whale watching excursions in the Azores.
whale watching Azores
A pair of male sperm whales going for a deep dive. Photo courtesy of Stan Hill.

Typical whale watching tours last two to three hours, but we were on a private excursion so had greater flexibility to maximize encounters. This particular day ranked as one of the best we’ve ever had whale watching.

If you’re thinking of a trip to the Azores, contact us. We’re happy to share insights on wildlife viewing, land-based excursions and the differences between islands.

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