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Dive Review of Blue Ocean Whale Watching in
General Travel/Other Locations/Portugal, Azores, Pico

Blue Ocean Whale Watching, Aug, 2009,

by Michael Jöst, Germany, Germany (Top Contributor Top Contributor 39 reports with 24 Helpful votes). Report 4989.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 2 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 2 stars
Snorkeling 2 stars
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 2 stars
Comments Azores, Pico Island

Pictures with a couple of manta rays in great visibility caught my eye in a dive magazine. It was an article on the Portuguese Islands of the Azores. Why not try I thought as I had noticed it took me more and more time to find new tempting and good dive destinations far away. Having done most of my diving in warm tropical waters of South East Asia and the Pacific, the idea of diving in the cold Atlantic did not really attract me. However friends on a dive show talked me into it, there is the Gulf Stream running, it shouldn´t be too bad at around 22 C. I guessed I could and would survive with a 5 mm semi dry overall, a 2 mm chicken west underneath and for good measures and safety another 3 mm west to make sure, as I´m only 1.8o m with 7o kg so not much insulation there.
TAP the Portuguese Airline brought me from Lisboa to Faial, Horta, with ferry I got to Pico. Accommodation I had booked in advance, it was holiday time, you better make sure then. I got a small room for 50 EUR a day with share bath room. Meals I had to find for myself. Life however is cheap here, breakfast, 2 croissant + 2 latte (=galau) were 3.50; a full dinner with soup, salad, main course with fish or meat, dessert, wine ran around 15 to 20 EUR max. Often you will find traditional Portuguese kitchen, delicious meals and some interesting wines. Pico offers a countryside of contrast, bare slopes, the volcano, flowery plateaus, beaches with the typical lava outcrops. The main attraction of the Azores are the migrating whales passing by the islands. Several different species, sperm, pilot, humpback, blue whales are cruising through on this Atlantic ridge. We saw big schools of dolphins following our boat out to the dive sites. Even there we had different species, some jumping and somersaulting out of the water.
Dives were mostly done by boat or driving to some nice spot on the beach with shore entry. There wasn´t much fish life close to the island. Interesting are the volcanic boulders with arches, crevices, pinnacles where you swim through a maze of differently shaped landscape. What brought me to the island was one special spot far out in the ocean. It´s a sea mount coming out of 25oo m nearly up to 35 m from the surface. It´s called Princess Alice, about 1oo km away from the islands, 2.5 hours with inflatable one way. A tough and bumpy ride which you can only do few times in the season, when the sea is calm. They normally take a maximum of 8 divers, to pack all gear and tanks for 2 dives. They have two rows of benches in the middle of the boat, each seating 6 guys where you sit like on a horse facing to the front. I felt like a navy seal on a mission. It´s definitely no thing for softies or guys easily getting sea sick . The dive site however is awesome, vis is endless, the mount is covered with some brownish algae, most times a strong current is running, so you follow the anchor line. Once you are down, you just wait and watch. There is a bunch of silvery trigger fish swimming around, some small lonely barracuda. You can´t see them coming but all of sudden they are all around you. Mobulas the size of manta rays, brown coloured with pilot fish in front and remoras on their wings. We counted 15 animals cruising a long time all around us. It seemed they enjoyed the bubbles tickling their bellies. Dives like this are once in a life time. It was stunning to watch all these animals passing by. It seemed the 45 min dive took only few minutes so amazing was the whole thing, time ran away. Only the cold water and your computer will at one time tell you to slowly start your ascent. Gerry our BSAC dive instructor took his job seriously. He was the guide on all dives, you just followed his profile. Experienced divers would not feel real happy with that, maybe he then keeps them on long reins. I wouldn´t call the Azores a typical dive destination, but a visit for 2 weeks is really worth it.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving worldwide
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 18-22°C / 64-72°F Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 15-20 M / 49-66 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales > 2
Corals 1 stars Tropical Fish 1 stars
Small Critters 1 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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