Portugal Diving Holidays: An Overview

While mainland Portugal has little to offer the globe-trotting diver, its territories out in the Atlantic certainly do, especially the Azores. After a recent research trip to this archipelago, we are going to put our stake in the sand and say it is home to the best diving in Europe.

Image of Louisa Fisher
Image of Neill Ghosh

Neill and Louisa are here to help give you the inside track.

Why we think you’ll love it

  • The reason to love diving in Portugal is simple: The Azores. Out in the Atlantic, the Azores are home to world-class diving. It's all about big fish when it comes to the diving.
  • The islands themselves are beautiful. Volcanic and lush, it is a bit like Jurassic Park.
  • Away from the diving there is world-class whale-watching at certain times of year, dolphins to swim with. Amazing basically.

Our Guide to Portugal Diving Holidays

The Azores are made up of nine islands split into three groups. 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.

When it comes to the diving in Portugal 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 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 is world-class.

Away from the diving, the volcanic islands offer dramatic scenery and it is a hotspot for activities like hiking, biking, whale watching and wildlife tours. You could easily spend two weeks exploring the various islands. You wouldn't come here for a beach break in the sun as there aren't many good beaches but if you want an activity-led destination in easy reach of the UK then this is perfect.

When it comes to hotels, we have visited a large number of them to find the very best. This is not a luxury destination but if you look hard enough (as we have) you can find some real gems.

The message is simple. Go now before everyone else finds out about this place!

Top picks for Portugal

Azores Aerial

The Azores


The Azores offer world-class diving; we think the best in Europe. It also offers some amazing activities around its volcanic scenery.

Where to go

Picture of private dining at Hotel Caloura

Hotel Caloura

The Azores

The main attraction at Hotel Caloura is the location. It is on one of the most beautiful parts of the main island of São Miguel in the Azores and set in a stunning cliff-top position.

Where to stay

Picture of Bedroom at Convento de Sao Francisco

Convento de Sao Francisco

The Azores

In the small town of Vila Franca do Campo on São Miguel lies one of the most interesting boutique hotels in the Azores, the Convento de São Francisco which is a converted 17th century monastery perched above the Atlantic.

Where to stay

Picture of Horta Harbour

Pousada da Horta

The Azores

Set in a 16th century fortress overlooking the bay at Horta on the island of Faial in the central Azores, the Pousada da Horta is a boutique hotel with a long history.

Where to stay

Picture of Hotel do Canal

Hotel do Canal

The Azores

Hotel do Canal is a high quality hotel on Faial in the Azores and is located just by the marina at Horta so perfect for diving, whale watching and all manner of other activities.

Where to stay

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