Beginner Diving in The Azores

The Azores archipelago sits in the North Atlantic Ocean, a little under a thousand miles west of Lisbon. These remote Portuguese islands are growing in popularity, and their name is on the tips of divers’ tongues when the conversation turns to the best dive locations in Europe. The Azores are volcanic islands, boasting dramatic scenery above and below the waves, and offer superb hiking and biking as well as some incredible dives. Mantas, mobulas and makos are commonly sighted, and while some of the submerged seamounts are best left to the more experienced divers, the local sites offer superb beginner diving. In the Azores, you are never too far from an amazing underwater encounter.

There are nine islands within the Azores, and each has its own charm and character. Our team of dive specialists loved island hopping around the archipelago, and although we briefly lost a couple to the vineyards, the reports back from the dive sites were full of praise for the underwater topography and the marine life, both big and small.

Sao Miguel

Sao Miguel is the largest island in the Azores, and its dive sites, in addition to some advanced sites, offer some of the best beginner diving in the Azores and will ensure you have some interesting entries in your logbook. History buffs will enjoy a dive on the SS Dori wreck, which lies between nine and 21 metres below the surface on a sandy plateau. The well-preserved wreck was once a proud participant in the D-Day landings in Normandy and sank off the coast of Sao Miguel in 1964. Âncoras do Ilhéu, or the Islet of Anchors, is another unusual dive, with eight large anchors paying homage to the islands' rich naval history while also providing shelter for rays and morays.

Pico and Faial

The islands of Pico and Faial lie farther west and are connected by a 25-minute ferry ride. The volcanic nature of the islands ensures interesting topography above and below the waves, and the islands boast excellent walking trails, superb vineyards, as well as some great dives for divers of all levels. The dive sites include vertical walls, beautiful canyons and lava flows full of moray eels, octopuses and rays as well as large groupers, Mediterranean parrotfish and barracuda. Pico and Faial are the perfect bases from which to head out to Princess Alice Bank, arguably the best dive in the North Atlantic. While the top of the seamount lies at 40 metres, less experienced divers can enjoy the blue sharks, devil rays, Galapagos sharks and giant mantas by hanging onto the shot line at five or ten metres, at one of the best spots for beginner diving in the Azores.

Santa Maria

Santa Maria sits in the eastern group of the Azores archipelago, and during the summer months, the big boys come to town, and you have the chance to dive alongside whale sharks and devil rays. The Ambrosio dive site allows less experienced divers to enjoy these majestic monsters in relatively shallow water-perfect for those seeking thrill-inducing beginner diving in the Azores. The islands are not generally noted for their beaches, yet Santa Maria offers the best chance to spend some time lying supine in the sand. As the southernmost island in the group, it enjoys the warmest weather, and its coastline is dotted with a few excellent white-sand beaches.

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Emily C and Eleanor are our 'Beginner Diving in The Azores' experts and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

Call us on 1-800-652-1972