Unique underwater topography characterised by big boulders, caverns and canyons; crystal clear visibility; mantas and mobulas; sharks and ship wrecks; macro life and much, much larger whales… and all in Europe. Yes, you heard right. Located a mere four hour flight from London, we think the Azores boast some of the best diving in Europe. And if you're still not convinced read on to discover the best dive sites that pepper Europe's most under the radar islands.

Moray eel diving in the Azores

Baía de Entre Montes – Faial

Located a five minute boat trip from Horta Harbour, Baía de Entre Montes (or Bay Between Hills) is a coastal site frequented by hermit crabs, nudibranch and moray eels. Descend past the rocky outcrops until you reach the sandy floor at around 20 metres - looking out for wide-eyed flounders, peraly razorfish and common stingrays lurking in the sand.

Level: Open Water

Depth: 6 - 20m

Current: No

Shrimp Cave diving Pico Azores

Shrimp Cave – Pico

Whilst we could go on for days about Pico's incredible local dive sites (think beautiful topography, healthy reefs and a wealth of interesting critters, from slipper lobsters to spiny lobsters, to table-sized stingrays), Shrimp Cave reigns supreme. Follow the coastline past boulders and overhangs before heading into a small cave which is filled wall-to-wall with Narwhal shrimps.

Level: Open Water

Depth: 5 - 16m

Current: No

mobula rays princess alice bank azores

Princess Alice Bank – Pico

Probably the most famous dive site in the Azores, Princess Alice Bank attracts divers year after year to see one thing: mobula rays. Located offshore, reaching this site requires a full day trip - but it's worth any seasickness. The boat ride can be an adventure in itself as it's not uncommon to see dolphins playing in the boat's wake, but dip below the water and you'll be greeted by up to hundreds of mobula rays that flip and dance around you - it's all very Blue Planet

Level: Advanced

Depth: 30 - 40m

Current: Yes

eagle rays diving holiday sao miguel azores

Ponta da Cozinha – Sao Miguel

Located around the protected La Ilha directly opposite the marina at Vila Franca, Ponta da Cozinha is an easy dive with great visibility, interesting topography and abundant marine life. Characterised by big boulders and canyons, look inside the crevices and you might spot several species of moray eel as well as octopuses, lizard fish, barracuda, Turkish wrasse, wide-eyed flounders and even eagle rays.

Level: Open Water

Depth: 12 - 18m

Current: No

SS Dori Wreck diving Azores

SS Dori Wreck – Sao Miguel

Built in World War Two, the SS Dori wartime ship played a part in Operation Overlord in Normandy before finally being sunk in 1964. Today, the wreck lies just off the coast of Ponta Delgada and is in surprisingly good nick, making for a fascinating dive. And because fishing is prohibited in the area, you'll also see marine life typical to the Azores, including jacks and shoals of juvenile fish.

Level: Open Water

Depth: 9 - 20m

Current: No

barracuda marine life, diving azores

Ambrosio – Santa Maria

If you visit one site during your time in the Azores (we know, as if you would only ever visit one) visit Ambrosio. An hour's RIB from the Vila do Porto Marina, the site boasts incredibly varied marine life including huge schools of jacks and barracuda and devil rays. Not a diver? No problem, you can also snorkel the site as the action starts relatively close to the surface.

Level: Intermediate

Depth: 10 - 30m

Current: Yes

manta rays diving Formigas and Dollabarat azores

Formigas and Dollabarat – Sao Miguel

For mantas and mobulas, you can't beat Formigas and Dollabarat. Although this site can be reached from the shores of San Miguel and Santa Marina, we recommend taking an overnight trip aboard the Water & Wind liveaboard for a more relaxed setting. The site consists of two submerged pinnacles that rise from the seabed, attracting all manner of pelagics, think mantas, mobulas, sharks, big-eyed tunas, wahoos and barracuda - all in 40 metre visibility.

Level: Advanced

Depth: 5 - 30m

Current: Yes

nudibranch macro diving azores

Baixa da Maia – Santa Maria

"The diving quality was the best I saw in the Azores' local sites with really good visibility and lots of marine life. I saw slipper lobsters, nudis, barracuda, schooling triggerfish, jacks, parrotfish, hundreds of Turkish wrasses and lots of nice caverns, caves and canyons. Definitely worth visiting" - India, Original Diver. Enough said.

Level: Open Water

Depth: 15 - 24m

Current: Yes

dolphin and whale watching azores

Whale and Dolphin watching – Horta

Okay, okay this isn't a dive site, per se. But how often do you get the opportunity to go whale watching in Europe? While you can spot sperm whales and common, bottlenose and risso's dolphins year-round, visit between March and June and you'll have a good chance of spotting migrating blue whales, fin whales and sei whales. Not to mention pilot whales passing through right up until October. That whaley (sorry) is a big enough reason to visit, no?

Interested in learning more about a tailor-made trip to explore the local sites in the Azores with Original Diving? Drop us an email and we can plan your adventure together.