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Scuba Diving Destination: Azores

Scuba Diving Destination: Azores
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Azores, the paradise islands in the Atlantic.

This autumn it was three years since I have visited the magically beautiful volcanic islands between Europe and North America. It´s now my fourth visit and my companions are a group of happy and curious divers from Sweden and England. I was wondering whether the sharks would be where I remembered them and whether we would be lucky with the weather out at Princess Alice.

Scuba Diving Destination: Azores

After a day´s flight and a night in Lisbon, we took the early morning plane to the Azores. We met C.W Azores at the ferry berth at Pico as they will take care of us whilst staying on the island.

Next we checked in at the diving centre which was a stone´s throw away from the hotel we were to stay at. At the dive centre we were told that the whale spotter on the island had seen Bryde´s whale out at sea. Since we wanted to go we were not too late to take a seat in the rib boat which duly launched with us onboard and headed out in a wave of water.

The adventure was in full swing. I had not counted on Bryde´s whale because it was not the season for them at that time of year. After a while the whale surfaced just in front of the boat. What a start we got!

Due to the season, Pico is one of the best places for whale and dolphin watching. With a wide smile on our lips we returned to the diving centre to arrange the diving equipment for tomorrow´s check dive. It felt nice to finally get into the water and check equipment and buoyancy. It´s important that everything was ok for the type of diving that was waiting.

Early the next day we ventured out to Princess Alice, a deep sea mountain 50 nautical miles (92.6 km) southwest of Pico. When we arrived after a couple of hours, we saw free divers in the water. Would it turn out that luck was on our side? Previous years had been tough with strong currents which resulted in me never having managed to take good pictures so far.

We followed the dive line to the chosen location. In the weak current around the mountain large groups of Mobulas had gathered. They were everywhere, sometimes also in our bubbles. This experience is a unique feeling of happiness and pleasure throughout the body at the same time. To float in the blue with over 30 rays around you, is like sucking on a delicious caramel that lasts a long time. Another great day at sea!

Scuba Diving Destination

Next day it was time to dive with blue shark. Before we headed off we received clear instructions from the guides how to get the best meeting. It took about 20 minutes for the rib boat to reach the site where we would start bating the sharks. How long would the wait be due to the sharks, the currents and the wind?

Shark!, shouted the captain and pointed down to the surface. A big dorsal fin broke the water surface and we saw a big blue shark. It reminds one of a large aircraft with its large pectoral fins. It was now for the guide to find out if the shark would accept us before we went into the water. We got the clear sign and slid gently into the clear blue water. Because the boat was running with the weak current it was important that we went down the line. Carefully, like a curious dog it approached us as if it would control who we were. It swam around us very close before it gently swam on.

The two following days continued with successful shark diving. Our journey was now coming to an end. Last day and we were going to snorkel with wild dolphins. We saw common dolphins and snorkeled with the large bottlenose ones. Getting close contact with the gracious dolphins was really something very special which can´t be described in words.

Back at the dive centre we had a light lunch before a trip around the scenic island, with visits to the local cheese making, vineyards and whale museum. We finished the evening at one of Pico´s best restaurants.

Based on my previous experiences of Pico, this time we got to experience everything we could think of and more. Pico has a special place in my heart and I look forward to many future visits.

Text & Photo credit: Tomas Jansson