Summer is in full swing. Days are warm and sunny in most parts of Europe, so time to relax at the beach, dive in the sea or practice water sports. Right for those who like to explore the sea or the lakes kayaking, surfing, or diving, we have put together a list of water adventures to undertake in the Portuguese archipelago Azores.
Set amid the Atlantic Ocean, and home of crater lakes, underwater caves, and hidden coves, the islands of the Azores offer a range of refreshing experiences that allow you to enjoy its stunning natural landscapes and abundant marine life. And the best is, there is an activity for everyone!
Perfect for families
Whale Watching. The Azores are one of the best places in the world for whale watching. Several species of whales, including sperm whales, blue whales, and humpback whales, can be spotted in the surrounding ocean. Whale watching in the Azores is possible throughout the year, but the peak season generally runs from April to October. During this time, a higher number of whale species migrate through the Azores, offering a better chance to be spotted. The islands of São Miguel, Pico, and Faial are known for their excellent whale-watching opportunities. You can opt for rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) or larger catamarans. RIBs offer a more intimate and thrilling experience, bringing you closer to the whales, while catamarans provide a more comfortable ride.
Kayaking and SUP. The Azores' scenic coastline, sea caves, and hidden coves are perfect to be explored by kayaking or SUP. While you paddle, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the islands from the water. Apart from the coast, you can also choose to explore São Miguel’s volcanic lakes, such as Sete Cidades (twin lake). Surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of lush green hills you will be amazed by the incredible blue and green colors of these lakes. Furnas Lake provides another beautiful setting for kayaking and supping. Here you can discover hidden coves, small islets, and even hot springs that bubble up along the shoreline.
Sunset sailing. The Azores is a very popular sailing destination in summer when the days are warm and the waters are calm. There are many companies offering sailing tours of the Azores' rugged and picturesque shorelines or you can opt for a more adventurous island-hopping tour. Our favorite is a sunset sailing tour, which is a truly magical experience. These tours normally start from Ponte Delgado and head to the southern coast of São Miguel whether by sailboat or catamaran. As you sail along the coast, you'll be treated to breathtaking views and you'll witness the stunning colors of the sky as the sun sets over the Atlantic Ocean.
Encounter marine wildlife
Swim with dolphins. Alongside whales, the Azores are home to various species of dolphins, such as common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. To encounter these wonderful animals, you can embark on a dolphin-watching tour, but even more adventurous is the possibility to swim with them. São Miguel offers several opportunities for swimming with dolphins, most of them starting from Ponta Delgada and Vila Franca do Campo. Also from Madalena on Pico Island, you can get on dolphin-watching and swimming tours and get close up to the dolphins in their natural habitat.
Scuba Diving: The Azores offer exceptional diving opportunities with crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life, from colorful fish, barracudas, sea turtles, manta rays, and even sharks.
Besides, the Azores' volcanic origins provide unique underwater landscapes to explore like submerged lava tubes, caves, volcanic formations, and captivating reefs.
Some popular dive sites include the Formigas Islets, Baixa do Ambrósio in Santa Maria, and the underwater volcanic formations near the islands of Pico and Faial.
For adventure seekers
Coasteering. The Azores' mighty coastal cliffs, volcanic rocks, and clear turquoise-blue ocean are the ideal base for coasteering. Almost on every island, you find opportunities for thrilling experiences and stunning scenery.
The areas of Ponta da Ferraria and Mosteiros near Ponta Delgada (São Miguel Island) provide opportunities for coasteering enthusiasts with stunning cliffs and rocky formations. On Terceira Island, the rocky shores around Angra do Heroísmo and the western coast, near Biscoitos, are as well popular spots. Finally, on Faial Island, the coastline near Horta and the Capelinhos volcano is an exciting playground for coasteering adventures, offering a mix of rugged cliffs, caves, and natural pools.
Canyoning. Away from the coast, in the Azores' unspoiled forests and natural parks, you can immerse yourself in rugged landscapes and enjoy the rush of descending through cascading waterfalls whilst canyoning.
Ribeira dos Caldeirões Natural Park (São Miguel) is a perfect spot the explore its canyons with beautiful waterfalls and natural pools. The little island of São Jorge is renowned for its dramatic cliffs and deep valleys, making it an ideal location for canyoning. The island offers exciting canyons, such as Caldeira do Santo Cristo and Fajã dos Cubres, where you can rappel down waterfalls and explore narrow gorges.
Surfing. The Azores have become increasingly popular among surfers, and offer a variety of surf spots suitable for different skill levels, ranging from gentle waves for beginners to powerful breaks for experienced surfers. Praia Formosa, located on the southern coast of the island of Santa Maria offers consistent waves and is suitable for all levels.
São Miguel has as well several surf spots such as Santa Bárbara Beach, located on the north coast. Terceira Island offers a variety of surf breaks along its coastline, one of the most popular is probably Praia da Vitória, located on the eastern coast, known for its consistent waves and sandy beach break. Faial is another great destination for surfing in the Azores. Praia do Almoxarife, not far from the main town of Horta, is a well-known surf spot offering a mix of beach and reef breaks.
Time to relax
Hot springs. Apart from adventurous water sports and experiences in the water, The Azores let you also enjoy the water in a fully relaxed mood, one of the most famous is surely its hot springs which are scattered across the islands. Caldeira Velha on São Miguel Island, for example, is a natural park that features a hot waterfall and thermal pools. Then there is Terra Nostra Park in Furnas, which has an iconic iron-rich thermal pool. The water has a brownish color due to the minerals, and it's believed to have therapeutic properties. Ferraria is a unique hot spring on São Miguel Island where seawater mixes with hot spring water, creating a natural warm bath.
Contact us and discover more hidden gems and exciting adventures for your next trip to the Azores in our Azores Outdoor Adventures, Azores Family Adventures and special experiences on the Azores collections.