The Azores emerge majestically from the Atlantic Ocean more or less between Lisbon and New York, and are characterised by lush, green volcanic cliffs and picturesque Mediterranean style buildings.
The Archipelago of the Azores is made up of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately 1300 km west of Portugal and 3900 km from the North American coast. The Azores is self governed as an Autonomous Region, with the Regional Government located in the city of Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel. The population of the nine islands totals 237,000 people.
Influenced by the Gulf Stream, the islands provide a convenient resting place for the world’s largest pelagic species, whilst the underwater arches, tunnels, caves and cliffs provide a haven for sub tropical fish and stunning silhouette photography opportunities.
Beaked whales, sperm whales, fin whales, humpbacks, false killer whales, spotted, bottlenose and Risso’s dolphins, turtles and more are spotted from the surface May to October. Whilst rare to see them when diving, it is not unknown to hear them.
Sao Miguel, located on the eastern side of the archipelago, is by far the largest and greenest of the nine islands. It is made up of six volcanic complexes and municipalities. To the west, Ponta Delgada, the main town and port has preserved its historical beauty. It is a delight to explore the narrow cobbled streets bordered by very well preserved period houses. Within this municipality are the Sete Cidades, an extinct volcano crater of 40 sq. km, within which are two magnificent lakes, one deep blue colour and the other emerald green.
Sao Miguel provides a fantastic introduction to what is on offer both above and below water in this fascinating Atlantic outpost. Hosting the islands’ largest town, Ponta Delgada, the coastline boasts a number of dive sites.
Situated a short boat ride from Vila Franca do Campo, this small islet formed from an ancient submerged volcano offers a few choices of sites. Impressive shapes are thrown by the large underwater boulders and the inlets of the walls. In some places, fissures in the walls reach through to the lagoon in the middle of the islet. Octopus, morays, grouper and grey trigger fish are a common site. The dive site offers generally easy dives of up to 22m depth.
In January 1964, a Liberian cargo ship sank 800m from the south coast, close to Sao Roque. She is situated at a convenient depth of around 20m and surrounded by a sandy bottom. Although not possible to penetrate safely, the wreck provides a striking sight and gives shelter to schools of fish such as Sea Bream and Salemas, wrasse, flounder and mullet.
Praia da Caloura
The sheltered area of Caloura stretching from Caloura beach to Ponta da Galera offers a variety of dive sites. Arches and gulleys formed from lava flows, all at shallow depths, offers wide variety of species, such as ornate wrasse, canary damsel, puffer fish and dusky grouper.
Experienced divers will enjoy challenging sites such as Ilheus das Formigas and Dollabarat Banks. Formed from volcanic mountains rising from the sea bed, pelagic encounters in strong currents are frequent in the summer months; subject to optimum dive conditions for experienced divers only.
Whales, hot springs and gardens
Beaked whales, sperm whales, fin whales, humpbacks, false killer whales, spotted and bottlenose dolphins, rissos', turtles and more are spotted from the surface May to October. Whilst rare to see them when diving, it is not unknown to hear them. On land, enjoy Terra Nostra Gardens, the hot springs village of Furnas and Gorreana Tea estate.
Offering a great city centre location, the Hotel Talisman binds traditional with new, with its property comprising a conversion of an old wing, and a modern wing. The old wing is elegantly furnished in a classical style, whilst the new wing offers accommodation in a more minimalist style. The hotel offers a small winter garden, café bar frequently offering live music, restaurant, and heated rooftop pool (accessed by stairs from the third floor). The hotel rooms are air-conditioned, ensuite, with satellite TV, telephone, tea and coffee making facilities, WiFi (free of charge) and safety deposit box (at a small charge).
The hotel is close to the centre of Ponta Delgada and the marina, and a pleasant 10 - 15 minute walk from the Nerus dive centre. The hotel is ranked 2/25 for Ponta Delgada on Trip Advisor (you can also see lots of pictures of the hotel if you have a look on Trip Advisor)
We have picked the Azores for our 2013 land based trip as we feel that it is a unique destination offering something for divers and non divers alike, with the opportunity of seeing some of the oceans biggest pelagic species. Ponta Delgada offers a bustling town with lots of history and culture and the island offers some stunning scenery.
The trip will be booked through RegalDive. We will be staying in the Talisman Hotel for 7 nights on B&B basis, flying out from Gatwick on Saturday 13th July (departs 14.20, arrives 17.05). Return flights will be departing the Azores 08.40 and arriving at Gatwick 13.25 on 20th July. Unfortunately Gatwick is the only direct flight to the Azores, so there is no Manchester option available. However, with these flight times travelling down to Gatwick should not be too much of a problem.
The cost of the trip is £789 per person and is open to divers and non diving partners/friends (price may change depending on flight prices at time of booking, so book early to ensure this is not subject to a price increase)
For divers a 10 dive boat package is £242
To book a place we require a £250 deposit per person (Payment by card (Regal do not charge a fee for payment of deposits on credit card), cheque to Regaldive or cash).