It isn't often that you find somewhere so close to home (if your home is in the UK) that blows you away with the quality of diving.
Having dived all over Europe, and after a recent research trip, I am going to claim that the Azores offer hands down the best diving in Europe. What's more, hardly anyone knows about the islands yet!
Introducing the Azores
The Archipelago of the Azores is located 1,000 miles west of the coast of Portugal in the mid-Atlantic, and it is just 3h30mins direct flight from the UK.
There are nine islands: the Oriental islands of Sao Miguel and Santa Maria; the Central Islands of Pico, Faial, Sao Jorge, Terceira and Graciosa; and the Occidental islands of Flores and Corvo. Each has something different to offer on land and sea but what they have in common is excellent diving and beautiful scenery.
Under the Waves
When it comes to the diving it is hard to know where to start. How about virtually guaranteed encounters with manta rays, blue sharks and makos at the right time of year? Add in occasional hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, large numbers of dolphins and whales and incredible visibility and it soon becomes clear why we are such big fans of this place. It really does offer world-class diving.
Away from the diving, the volcanic islands offer dramatic scenery and are a hotspot for activities like hiking, biking, whale watching and wildlife tours. You could easily spend two weeks exploring the various islands without getting bored.
This is not a luxury destination and you wouldn't come here for a beach break in the sun as there aren't many good beaches but for divers and those looking for an activity-led holiday in a little-known destination, it really doesn't get much better.