Cliff Diving in the Azores

Your ultimate guide to the Red Bull Cliff Diving in the Azores

Did you already hear about the Red Bull Cliff Diving Series? This super exciting event takes place all around the world, at 7 different locations, to find the best female and male cliff-diver! The jumps they do are spectacular, and watching the divers jump from up to 27m with such elegance and doing amazing acrobacy at the same time, is definitely breathtaking!

The cliffs of São Miguel are incredible!

The cliffs of São Miguel are incredible!

One of the stops of the World Series is at the beautiful islet Vila Franca do Campo in the Azores! The “Princess Ring”, a volcanic islet in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is a really magical place and it is here that the world’s best cliff divers will compete for the trophy! And if you’re in the Azores around June 22nd, it is an event that you shouldn’t miss! And what better place to watch it than from the sea, where you can see how the divers dive in precisely right in front of you? Surely that’s the best option to watch the Red Bull Cliff Diving in the Azores

The Red Bull Cliff Diving in the Azores is the 4th stop on the World Series. Before, the divers will already have jumped off cliffs in the Philippines, Dublin and Italy. But for us, the stop in the Azores is definitely the best one, since we love the Portuguese archipelago not only for their steep cliffs but for the many other sea-related activities you can do there!

These colors? Coul only be the Azores!

These colors? Coul only be the Azores!

For you to get the most out of your trip, we came up with this ultimate guide to the Red Bull Cliff Diving in the Azores. After all, the event will only be one day, but the Azores have a lot more to offer as well! So make sure to plan some extra days to get the most of this island!

The Red Bull Cliff Diving in the Azores will take part in the little islet of Vila Franca do Campo. It’s a natural reserve since 1983, and besides the steep and impressive cliffs the divers are going to jump from to perform impressive figures and do multiple spins, this little islet has a lot more to offer! So why not take a walk after the event, to be impressed by the unique landscape?

During the competition of the Red Bull Cliff Diving in the Azores, the men and women will show off their skills. It sometimes even seems unreal, with what kind of precision and control they perform the figures while jumping from such heights! It will surely leave you in awe, and maybe you will even get inspired to start some easy cliff jumping yourselves – if you’re brave enough because one thing is for sure: You gotta have some serious balls for this!

Would you jump from this high?

Would you jump from this high?

The islet Vila Franca do Campo lies about 1km away from the shore of the Azores’ most popular island São Miguel. You can easily get there by boat of course. But why stop there? There is so much more to explore around São Miguel, so if you have the time, you should definitely join a boat tour to explore not only the islet but also the rest of the impressive coastline! This boat tour, for example, will take you on a full day tour to explore the region completely and get a feeling for the real authentic way of life of the Azores!

Whale watching is a must when visiting the Azores!

Whale watching is a must when visiting the Azores!

Did you also know that you can observe whales and dolphins, and even go swimming with dolphins in the Azores? You can do so from São Miguel but also from Faial! So if watching the Red Bull Cliff Diving in the Azores isn’t enough excitement for you already, you should go on another adventure and find some of the wild cetaceans living in or passing by the Azores!

True athletes!

True athletes!

Finally, your ultimate guide to the Red Bull Cliff Diving in the Azores wouldn’t be complete without some delicious recommendation for food! The most famous exports from the Azores when it comes to food are probably beef and cheese. But if you’re on the island, you should also try some of the super fresh seafood of course. The famous Lapas for example, a kind of sea-snail, is a real delicatessen in the Azores and if you’re brave enough to watch the Red Bull Cliff Diving in the Azores, you should also be brave enough to try Lapas! 😉 And not to forget – the Azores have some unique and delicious wine, that goes perfectly together with any kind of meal!

Eating lapas? Please do so!

Eating lapas? Please do so!

As you can see, there are lots to do and explore in the Azores around the event of the Red Bull Cliff Diving in the Azores! So book your tickets now, visit the Azores around June 22nd and be impressed by the amazing skills of the world’s best cliff divers!

We went Whale Watching in São Miguel

Our friend Cristina, blogger at The Choice of Magic, shares her unforgettable experience Whale Watching in São Miguel:

Welcome to São Miguel!

Welcome to São Miguel!

The island of São Miguel is certainly one of the most breathtaking places in Portugal. With eternally green hills, blue-green water, spotted cows and delicious cheese, it’s the perfect getaway for a long weekend. There are obviously plenty of things to do in a place where nature is so overwhelmingly beautiful: from hikes and baths in the island´s many hot springs to eating all the “lapas” you can find, and to finally going on a most amazing adventure: Whale Watching in São Miguel. 

When planning our trip, we positively knew we wanted to venture into the sea and try our luck at Whale Watching in São Miguel. Something else we knew was that we had to do it with an agency that had consideration, respect and love towards the animals and their ever endangered ecosystem. After thorough research, we decided to ask SeaBookings for help and they promptly booked us a tour with a local whale watching tour agency of extremely kind and passionate people.

Lourenzo, the Marine Biologist

Lourenzo, the Marine Biologist

The tour started on a sunny day, at 8:30 am from Vila Franca do Campo’s marina. We got there early and having followed the advice of the tour operator, with some milk in our bellies to combat the seasickness. The tour started on land with a touching video about our oceans. Minutes later, adults and children alike were embarking along with Tiago, the boat’s captain and Lorenzo, our charming Italian marine biologist. Waterproof jackets on, scarves around our faces and sunglasses firmly secured, the boat started towards the great unknown.

The views over the shore are stunning!

The views over the shore are stunning!

Not even 10 minutes in, we encountered our first colony of bottlenose dolphins. Now, I’ve only ever seen dolphins in aquariums and this was a completely different experience. Seeing these wonderful creatures in the wild and hearing Lorenzo’s stories about the dolphins of New Zeeland, we felt utterly overwhelmed and grateful for being able to experience this. The colony was a big one, over 100 animals, jumping around our boat and giving us the welcome to their island. The boat had stopped for us to admire the animals, take some blurry pictures and recover from the first batch of seasickness.

This tour operator works with whale spotters who from the island’s shore, oversee the sea with powerful binoculars and warn the boat captain of where these wonderful creatures are lurking. After seeing two colonies of bottlenose dolphins, the whale spotters excitedly warned our captain that a group of sperm whales was nearby. We rushed in their direction and it wasn’t long until we found the beautiful animals resting in the water and soaking up the sun. Lorenzo explained that it was a matriarchal group formed out of three adult female whales and their calves. I cannot even begin to describe the feeling of smallness one feels when seeing a baby whale expelling water through its blowhole. Remember all the cartoons you’ve seen with whales doing this? Well, it´s even better in reality.

It's hard to catch the animals on camera!

It’s hard to catch the animals on camera!

Three hours flew by unbelievably fast and as we were circling the beautiful islet of Vila Franca do Campo, the site for the Red Bull Cliff Diving competition, we wished we could do it all over again. We returned to base for a final cup of tea and chat with Lorenzo and learned more about the island’s effort in preserving the oceans and helping these animals. We left smiling, thankful and just a tad more mindful about how wonderful nature is.

Many thanks, Cristina, for describing your experience Whale Watching in São Miguel so beautifully. For more details about this tour or bookings, please have a look here.

When to go whale watching in the Azores

When to go whale watching in the Azores

The Azores are a real paradise for nature lovers and active tourist who appreciate the outdoors. No wonder that the group of islands has been elected one of the Top 10 most sustainable destinations in the world. The Azores are also the best Atlantic destination according to the International Tourism Fair in Berlin (ITB)!

Obviously, there are a lot of reasons to visit this amazing and magical place. But one of the main reasons for us is definitely the 25 different species of whales and dolphins that can be seen around the Azores throughout the year! To make sure you have a great experience, we want to tell you when to go whale watching in the Azores! You can do so from São Miguel Island but also from Horta, Faial!

We have many different species around the Azores

We have many different species around the Azores

Whales are very special animals! Something about them seems to remind us that there is a whole other world out there in the sea, and whales are the strong and harmonious leaders of that world! They are beautiful creatures and so kind. That’s why whale watching in the Azores is such a magical experience.

A lot of people want to go whale watching in the Azores, but don’t know when to go. Don’t worry any longer, we will tell you all you need to know about when to go whale watching in the Azores to make sure you see as many of these magical creatures as possible!

boat tour in São Miguel

Some whales are very curious and come really close to the boats!

Generally speaking, spring and early summer are the best months to go whale watching in the Azores! During that time, you will find a lot of migrating whale species passing through the region on their way up north. So if you go whale watching in the Azores during spring, it’s very likely that you will see species like blue whales, fin whales and sei whales.

If you’re planning when to go whale watchníng in the Azores and don’t want to visit during the warm summer months, that’s no problem! There is one resident whale species in the Azores, which is the amazing sperm whale. Even though this whale is most easily seen during summer, you can generally find it all year round in the region! So you don’t have to worry about when to go whale watching, because the sperm whale will always be around.

Join us on this adventure!

Join us on this adventure!

There are also 3 resident dolphin species, so if you come during fall or winter, you’re likely to see them too! But during summer there are also more dolphins around the region, so you will have more variety of dolphin species between April and August as well.

With a little bit of luck, you might even get to see rare whale species like orcas or beaked whales during the migrating months in spring! So if you’re flexible about when to go whale watching in the Azores, the months between April and July are the best ones!

They're looking forward to meeting you ;)

They’re looking forward to meeting you 😉

Whenever you choose to go whale watching in the Azores, you are sure to have the time of your life! Encounters with these amazing animals are always absolutely magical! The Azores are among the best places on earth to go whale watching! We hope that this post about when to go whale watching in the Azores can help you make the most of your whale watching experience!

Good luck spotting as many whale species as possible during your holidays in the Azores!

Dolphin & whale watching in São Miguel, Azores

If you are planning your holidays to the Azores archipelago, you are surely considering a whale watching in São Miguel. The island of São Miguel is worldwide known for its stunning green scenery and for dolphin and whale watching boat trips.
São Miguel is the biggest island of the Azores archipelago. It’s the island where most airlines operating to the Azores fly to: Ponta Delgada. São Miguel has 62.1 km in maximum length and 15.8 km at its width. Pico da Vara is the island’s highest point with an altitude of 1,105 m.

Whale watching São Miguel 4

Marine birds also like to go whale watching in São Miguel because of feeding

There are many things to do on São Miguel, Azores. Most activities are related to nature, like bicycle or horse rides, running or walking tours, canyoning and golf. Related to the ocean, the Azores is ideal for birdwatching, fishing, scuba diving, surfing and of course, dolphin and whale watching.
In this article, we’ll focus on dolphin and whale watching in São Miguel. The Azores, and in particular São Miguel, are one of the world’s largest dolphin and whale sanctuaries. More than 25 different types of cetaceans can be encountered around the Azores. Among these species, some are whales, others dolphins, some resident, others migrant species. These 25 species of cetaceans correspond to one third of the total number of existing species on the planet!

Whale watching São Miguel 5

In the winter, please dress warmly for the whale watching in São Miguel

With majestic whales and friendly dolphins, the Atlantic Ocean around São Miguel becomes even more magic. To enjoy this magic closely, we recommend a boat tour with dolphin and whale watching in São Miguel. SeaBookings works with a local tour operator that has a record of more than 25 years of providing unforgettable encounters between travellers and marine life. This tour operator provides a great dolphin and whale watching center with outstanding installations and information about the different species of animals around the São Miguel Island.

Whale watching São Miguel 3

You never know which species you’re gonna spot

The start of the tour

Before your boat trip, you will receive a safety briefing. In the dolphin and whale watching center, you will be informed about the most spotted species of dolphins and whales in São Miguel. In fact, during the dolphin and whale watching in São Miguel, you are able to find many kind of species of cetaceans.
During this briefing, you’ll also be informed about the boat tour itself, about where we’re going and for how long. An important part is to pay attention on how you should and shouldn’t behave during the dolphin and whale watching in São Miguel.

The boats

There are several kinds of boats that do the boat trips with dolphin and whale watching in São Miguel. The most known boat of this tour operator is their Catamaran “Cetus”. This boat takes up to 77 people. It’s a very stable boat and perfect for any age. This boat is usually preferred by families.
An alternative for the speed and adrenaline lovers is the dolphin and whale watching tour on a zodiac. A zodiac is a rigid inflatable passenger boat. This kind of boat is better if you love adventure and would like to come a bit closer to the dolphins or whales of the Azores.
The prices, routes and chances on spotting wildlife on both boats are the same. The choice of the boat, would depend on your personal preference.

Whale watching São Miguel 2

You may find cute dolphins or impressive whales

Seasickness

Unfortunately, some ocean lovers tend to get seasick. For the people that usually suffer from seasickness, we recommend the zodiacs. These boats are faster and tend not to feel the movement of the ocean that usually causes the seasickness that much,
Other tips to avoid getting seasick are to eat before the boat trip. You should not drink too much water but eat some cookies or something light. Also, if you start to feel seasick, stare at the horizon and talk to your friends to distract.
If you feel these tips won’t help, we recommend getting some pills that help you to prevent getting seasick. You can get them at the pharmacy.

The trip with dolphin and whale watching in São Miguel

The boat trips with dolphin and whale watching in São Miguel take about three hours and a half. On average, on these half day boat tours, you’ll spot about 2 species of cetaceans.
In the waters around São Miguel, on a yearly basis, you can find up to 25 different types of species. The resident dolphins are the common and bottlenose dolphin, which we spot most of the times. Bottlenose dolphins are very friendly; you can even swim with them! Whales pass by the Azores during their migration route. The most spotted whales are sperm whales, blue whales and fin whales.
The route is absolutely stunning. You’ll cruise by impressive sights over the island of São Miguel. This boat trip, even if you have tough luck not spot any wildlife, is amazing because of its unique perspective over the island.

Whale watching in São Miguel, Azores

Femke, from SeaBookings, on her whale watching in São Miguel, Azores

Booking your dolphin and whale watching in São Miguel and tips

Due to the huge demand on these tours, it is recommended to book in advance to avoid disappointments. Usually, booking about one week in advance should be enough. If you only decide to book this trip last minute, we recommend you to give us a call.
Also, make sure than you dress adequately. In the summer you may not need a jacket, but bring sunscreen and a hat that will not blow off with the wind. In the fall / winter, dress warmly as it may get chilly in the middle of the Atlantic!
We recommend checking in for your tour at the whale watching center about 2o minutes before departure. At the center, you can pay by cash or by card. You will be provided with directions to the boat.

Have fun and enjoy the Atlantic!

Cliff diving in Azores

After Texas and Copenhagen in June this year, in July the Redbull Cliff Diving will come to the Azores on the 7th. The Azores archipelago, part of Portugal, in the midst of the Atlantic Ocean will host the World Series of cliff diving for the fifth year in a row. If you like diving and have the chance to go to the Azores around July 9th, don’t doubt and join this great event on the São Miguel Island. The phenomenal volcanic rock formations of the São Miguel Island are perfect for cliff diving in the Azores!

While in most of the locations that take part of the World Series of cliff diving, the diving is done from an artificial “cliff”, in the Azores, we’ll return to origins, jumping directly from the rocks! The impressive rocks of the Azores islands will invite professional athletes to jump into the deep blue water of the Atlantic from incredible heights. This unique volcanic archipelago of the Azores, situated in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, will serve as a starting point for the jumps from the rocks for the fifth consecutive year for men. Regarding the women’s  competition, after the huge success of last year, it will be held again on the small island of Vila Franca do Campo, near São Miguel.

Rachelle Simpson of the USA dives from a 20 metre cliff during an open training day prior to the fifth stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, Islet Franco do Campo, Azores, Portugal on July 15th 2015.

Rachelle Simpson of the USA dives from a 20 metre cliff during an open training day prior to the fifth stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, Islet Franco do Campo, Azores, Portugal on July 15th 2015.

The motto of the cliff jumping at the Azores is back to the roots. The inspiring volcanic rocks and the outer walls of the circular islet are ideal spots for athletes to explore this sport in its purest form. This is the pure cliff diving: opening your wings and jumping directly from the rocks as the pioneers in cliff jumping did in Hawaii about 250 years ago. Only for the more technical jumps the athletes can choose to jump from a platform built above the ocean.

The women’s competition of cliff diving in the Azores will take place on the islet of Vila Franca do Campo. This islet is so called after a village on the island of São Miguel.  The islet of Vila Franca has been used for several purposes. After having been used for a military fort, it was turned into a vineyard and recently, the islet has been classified as a nature reserve (since 1983).

Characteristics of the World Series of cliff diving on the Azores:

  • Location Volcanic nature reserve off the coast
  • Coordinates 37° 41′ N, 25° 26′ W
  • Platform/rock heights 28m | 20m
  • Water depth >8m
  • Water temperature (July) 22°C
  • Air temperature (July) 25°C
  • Water seawater – Atlantic Ocean
  • Random fact Locals call the islet “Princess Ring”

Located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, about 1.369km west of mainland Portugal, on the European continent,  the Azores have nine islands divided into three groups. The Azores are a great holiday destination for nature lovers. Not only for cliff diving, or assisting to the World Series, but also to practice water sports yourself. The Azores are worldwide known for its great conditions for whale watching for example.

whale-watching-sao-miguel-azores

whale-watching-sao-miguel-azores

So, if you’re visiting the Azores, enjoy the ocean with one of the many watersports or boat tours and if you’re around São Miguel on July 7th, join this great event.