Magical underwater world of the dolphins
Swimming with dolphins is a wonderful way to see dolphins in their natural habitat. Looking into the crystal clear ocean depths wearing a mask and snorkel you can have encounters with these very curious and playful mammals. Watching their exquisite movements and listening to a symphony of sound you feel part of their magical world. You will take home some beautiful memories that are guaranteed to stay with you. On this program you can add dolphin and whale watching trips either on the large catamaran or the zodiac when you can delight in the sightings above the water. Please request some whale and dolphins watching trips when booking.
Our swimming with Wild Dolphins experience is usually taken as part of a 5 or 7-night package.
You can immerse yourself in the underwater world of the dolphins taking 3-5 trips ( 3 hour duration) to sea with our expert dolphin swim guides. You will be given preparation information before you arrive, a training in best practice on the water, safety and how to approach the dolphins and develop confidence. You will also be given presentations about dolphin behaviour, so at the end of the week you will feel you really know a lot about these beautiful marine mammals
“The holiday of a lifetime – the Azores is one of the best places in the world to swim with wild dolphins”
- Pre trip preparation information, what to expect, instructions and safety briefing
- Getting on and off the boat and by the time you see the dolphins, you will be an expert, relaxed and confident with them which means the encounters will be even more special! (link 1 )
- Get confident swimming with mask, snorkel and fins in the open sea, also practice Take 3-5 boat trips to see the dolphins, each time is different and as you get the hang of it, you will be able to some amazing experiences. (link 1 )
- Learn responsible boat approaches from our expert skippers and how to behave in the water resulting in minimum disturbance to the dolphin’s natural behaviour. This also means the animals will be calm with us rather than swimming away to avoid us! (link 2 )
- Our expert dolphin swim guides are there to ensure you get the most from this activity. They give instruction and support on board, and look after your safety every step of the way. They are also really passionate about ensuring everyone gets a chance to have a good experience. (link 3 )
- Learn about the Azores dolphins, their behaviour, communication and interesting scientific facts about how they live. The Marine biologists will offer fascinating presentations during your holiday with information on conserving the habitat of the dolphins (link 4 )
- As an informed guest, you can participate in ensuring the dolphin’s welfare is at the heart of what is offered and that you are given a high quality of guidance so your experience is the best it can be. (link 4 )
- As part of a week program you will have a pre booked trips and be given priority replacement of trips lost due to bad weather and notified of any changes.
- Add on whale and dolphin watching trips and also land tours to enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the Island (link to land tours page)
How to swim with wild dolphins ( Best practice ) ( 1 link )
These are exciting adventure holidays to discover the underwater world of the dolphins. After boarding the boat and heading out to sea it is not long before the dolphins come to the bow of the boat. You will see them very close through the clear water from the boat. It is very exciting to watch their movements at speed as they get a free “massage” in the bow wave. Our swimming with wild dolphin’s program is done with respect and sensitivity which is non-intrusive to the wild dolphins. We follow a set of best practice guidelines and codes of conduct. For this reason, we book people onto either 3 or 5 trips to sea. We avoid individual trips as they do not give enough time for adequate preparation and put pressure on the team and the dolphins. Often they are travelling and pass beneath the swimmers. You will have time to learn the best way to encounter the dolphins, get confident with a mask, snorkel and fins and have beautiful experiences in a relaxed way. These holidays are very suitable for children 7+ and are a great family experience. (include pics children snorkeling from boat and entering the water family pics )
Responsible boat approaches and finding the dolphins (LINK 2)
This is a very exciting opportunity – we see dolphins and whales on 99% of our trips to sea! Swimming with dolphins in The Azores is unique and our expert skippers know the best way to approach the dolphins and line up the boat for our guests to get in the water at the perfect time for the best encounter. We approach the dolphins in a sensitive and non- intrusive way – observing their behavior and direction of travel. The skippers know the best time to enter the water with minimum disturbance to the dolphins. We are also assisted by “Vigia” (local land based lookouts ) who see the dolphins through binoculars and direct us to groups of dolphins that would be most suitable to swim with. Our local boat company have been taking people to see the whales and dolphins for 20 years and are regarded as the “experts”. We also ensure the time that people are with the dolphins is limited throughout the day.
Dolphin swim guide on boat (link 3 )
Our expert dolphin swim guides will give you a briefing before going out on the boats and a short practice at getting in and out of the water so you will be more confident at using your mask and snorkel. They will teach you “best practice” for non-intrusive interactions. This is also to make sure you are safe in the water at all times. You will be with a small group of 8 people on the boats and we enter the water in pairs in rotation and usually spend between 10 – 15 minutes with the dolphins each time depending on their mood. You are likely to have several swims on each 3 hour trip. Our guides can see swimmers from the boat at all times for your safety. We do not provide fins, so bring your own if you want to move fast in the water. You may also like to bring your own equipment to ensure a perfect fit. We assume you have a good swimming ability and that you have experience of using a mask and snorkel ( if not ask for extra instruction )and that you are of average fitness. Life jackets are provided on the boats but please bring your own buoyancy aid if you are not a very confident swimmer. Your resident dolphin swim guide is there to offer you advice throughout if needed.
Relaxed encounters are best!
After many years of taking people to swim with wild dolphins we find the best encounters are when the people are relaxed and not “chasing” the dolphins. The dolphins are naturally very curious, playful and sociable and we let them approach us! However, they are wild animals and we always respect their moods and behavior and let that determine when and how long we stay in the water with them.
What do our dolphin encounters actually involve?
The emphasis is on spending a lot of time at sea, taking time to free swim with the dolphins. In the Azores sighting the dolphins and whales is easier than in many other locations due to the assistance of the “Vigia” or “look-out”. These are the men who traditionally used to act as land-based lookouts for hunting whales. Now they use their remarkable tracking skills to scan the sea, identifying and locating different species, and, through radio contact, direct our boats to them. This guarantees more opportunities to encounter the animals and spend time with them. We see dolphins and whales on 99% of our trips to sea! Entering the water and swimming with the dolphins requires an average level of fitness. There will be snorkelling practice from the boat on the first day and time to learn our ‘in-water encounter’ procedures. You will develop confidence, skill and sensitivity with dolphins in the open ocean. These holidays are very suitable for children 7+, great family experience. Life jackets are provided on the boats but please bring your own buoyancy aid if you are not a very confident swimmer.
Education and research ( replace audio-visual presentations put before contact w dolphins and use new copy below + pic of a lecture )
(link 4 )
Talks on marine biology and conservation about the dolphins and whales in the Azores by local experts and our guides. You can learn about the whaling history of the islands which stopped 20 years ago and has been replaced by the eco-tourism. The populations of cetacean is growing steadily now they are no longer hunted. The experiences people have after swimming with dolphins and the ways these beautiful sentient dolphins touch us is very moving and inspiring so we welcome your stories and many we publish. However, we also invite you to help us by ensuring all regulations are strictly followed by all operators you see. And report back to us if there is anything that you feel compromises the welfare of the animals and your experience.
Contact with the dolphins
This involves swimming together or perhaps just floating above them witnessing their exquisite movements and sounds in the big blue as they swim beneath us. Some species display a delightful curiosity and are very sociable with us above and below the water! Sometimes they gesture and play with us and occasionally an inquisitive dolphin will come up close and look us in the eye or swim around us in playful curiosity. People travel in couples, alone, with friends or family. The groups are very diverse and sociable, a great way to meet new people. You can book other activities around the islands as you wish with plenty of time for relaxation and reflection. Sightings of sperm whales are common. We also see many other species of whales and dolphins, turtles, Manta Ray, sea birds and much more.
What happens if my swimming with dolphins trip is cancelled due to bad weather?
If weather or sea conditions restrict your swimming with dolphins programme, you will be offered a sea trip on another day or a land based tour instead. If we are unable to reschedule or rebook another trip (either sea or a land based alternative) you will receive a refund of the money you paid for your sea based tour.
What if I do not encounter any dolphins when I go swimming?
In the unlikely event that you do not encounter dolphins when you swim in the open sea you will be offered another trip free of charge by our local boat company.
Dolphins & Whales
There are phenomenal numbers of dolphins and whales in the Azorean waters. The islands are a major meeting place for both humans and cetaceans & attract scientists, naturalists, international photographers and divers as well as some tourists. It is also a port of call for transatlantic yachtsmen. Conversations on land buzz with tales of recent adventures and discoveries. In the ocean there is a similar rich exchange of communication, as the many different resident and transient species of dolphin & whale converge at what is sometimes referred to as “The Cetacean cross-roads of the world.” It is not uncommon to meet pods of dolphin of between 50 and 200, leaping with exuberance and vitality around the boats.
Swimming with dolphins in the Azores – example itinerary
|Day 1:||Arrival. Transfer from the airport to your accommodation where you can settle in and get to know the local area. Depending on your arrival time, make your way to our boat base where your boat trip schedule can be discussed and you can meet the team. BELOW IS A SAMPLE ITINERARY which you can add to with sea or land based tours as you choose:|
|Day 2:||After breakfast, make your way to the base, a leisurely 10 minute stroll away. An assessment will be made of swimming and snorkelling competence and you will be free to practice if you wish. You will be introduced to the safety briefing and ethical protocol for boat approaches when swimming in the open sea with dolphins . Audio-visual briefing about the whales and dolphins of the Azores, with lots of visuals and information and instruction on how to swim with wild dolphins. First Swimming with Dolphins activity.|
|Day 3:||Breakfast. Morning boat trip 2 – Swimming with dolphins. The afternoon can be spent relaxing on the beach or snorkelling practice in the lagoon.|
|Day 4:||Breakfast. Morning boat trip 3- Swimming with Dolphins activity. Optional afternoon Jeep tour of the Island to see the islands stunning scenery, lakes and forests. Hiking is also available. Visiting famous sightseeing spots revealing the island’s history.|
|Day 5:||Breakfast. Morning boat trip 4 – Swimming with dolphins activity. Optional excursion to the geo thermal craters and geysers to see the steam rising from the rocks and sample the local cuisine cooked under ground. Visit to the local botanical gardens close to the hotel. You have the opportunity to visit the vineyards with an exceptional wine tasting activity|
|Day 6:||Breakfast. Morning boat trip 5 – Swimming with dolphins activity. Afternoon – Visit to the Vigia, the lookout who can spot the whales from 30 km, try your own spotting skills! Nature walks, exploring the wildlife inland, or free time by the lagoon relaxing. Completion of holiday!|
|Day 7:||Breakfast. Depending upon the time of your flight you may have some time for some souvenir shopping. Departure with transfer.|
How to book
Please visit the links on the left to view our accommodation options, prices and how to book page. You can also check availability online here. If you would like to contact us please click here or telephone +44 (0) 1273 882778