The Azores archipelago, with its volcanic origins and location in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, is a spectacular diving destination. The nine islands offer crystal-clear waters and a plethora of dive sites characterized by underwater volcanic landscapes, abundant marine life, and excellent visibility.
Best Scuba Diving Spots for Experienced Divers
Princess Alice Bank: Located off the coast of Pico Island, this seamount attracts an array of pelagic species and is renowned for sightings of manta rays during the summer months. Due to its open ocean location and strong currents, it’s suitable for more advanced divers.
Dori Wreck: Near São Miguel, the Dori is a World War II shipwreck that lies in accessible waters yet deep enough to be a thrill for experienced wreck enthusiasts. Divers can explore the well-preserved structure and the marine life that has taken residence there.
Best Scuba Diving Spots for Beginners
Vila Franca do Campo: The islet off São Miguel provides sheltered water conditions perfect for beginners. It features a natural underwater park with a variety of fish and volcanic geological formations.
Terceira Island: The coastal areas of Terceira Island have several dive sites that are protected from the full force of the Atlantic, making them ideal for those new to diving. The sites offer a chance to see colorful marine life in less challenging conditions.
The Azores' marine life is diverse and plentiful, thanks to its location in the nutrient-rich waters of the Atlantic. Divers can expect to encounter various species of rays, barracudas, tuna, and even the occasional shark. The islands are also a migration route for whales and dolphins, providing a rare opportunity for divers to observe these majestic creatures.
The diving season in the Azores runs from June to November when the water temperatures are at their warmest, ranging from 70°F to 77°F. Visibility is often more than 30 meters, offering clear views of the underwater volcanic terrain and its inhabitants.
Scuba diving in the Azores can vary in cost, with single-tank dives ranging from $70 to $100, depending on the site's location and whether it’s a shore or boat dive. Equipment rental will add to the cost if you’re not bringing your own. Full certification courses can range from $500 to over $700, while specialty dives, like those to the Princess Alice Bank, may cost more due to the distance and experience required.