Blue Whales, Fin Whales, Sperm Whales Exclusive Small Group Tour

Blue Whales, Fin Whales, Sperm Whales and Humpback Whales

Pico Island, Azores

 

2025 DATES: 03 – 10 May

Prices from £1390

Join this exclusive small group tour with oceanographer and marine science researcher, Russell Arnott, to witness one of nature’s great events! See gatherings of the biggest whales on the planet feeding in the nutrient rich waters near this remote and unspoilt Island – a breath taking spectacle!

Ocean Giants, Exclusive Small Group Tour

Prices from £1390 pp

Talks and audio visual presentations

from Oceanographer and marine science researcher, Russell Arnott of Incredible Oceans

Blue Whales, Fin Whales and Humpback Whales

May offers a unique opportunity for you to come and see these Ocean Giants during their Mid Atlantic annual migration.

Pico Island, Azores

Take a step back in time and explore the history of the island. Marvel at the views from the top of a volcano.

Incredible Sightings!

With help of land based lookouts we see whales and dolphins on 98% of our trips to sea.

Overview

Location: Pico Island, Azores

What’s included:  

  • Return airport transfers
  • 5 half day trips to sea on a RIB boat
  • 7 nights accommodation in 3* harbour hotel with breakfast included
  • Group meals with tour leader and guide at the beginning and end of the tour
  • Exclusive guide services of tour coordinator
  • Services of expert guides on boats and throughout the holiday
  • Marine Biologist talks and preparation information
  • Full day Pico tour to explore the Island, mountains, lakes, volcano and stunning views

Extra nights: Option to extend your stay in the Azores with extra nights at your hotel or visit other islands

Accommodation:

  •  3*** village hotel

Meals: Breakfast included. Self catered options available.

Flights are not included.  We give you guidance on booking flights to Pico Island, Azores (PIX). See location and flights above

2025 dates: 26 April - 03 May; 03 - 10 May; 

Optional activities: book additional trips to sea and land tours

 

 

About this holiday

 

Pico Island Ocean Giants

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Sperm whale Pico island

On this exclusive tour, you have a rare opportunity to explore the pristine waters around one of the more remote islands of the Azores, Pico which are attracts large numbers of migrating baleen whales and dolphins as well as extraordinary diversity of marine life. The oceanographer and expert marine biologist guide will give you in depth presentations. Spending time on Pico gives a real taste of the traditions and heritage of the Azores as it is one of the less populated, more isolated volcanic islands of the archipelago. Enjoy breathtaking views of the dramatic geological formations and caves surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean crashing on to the black craggy cliffs of volcanic rock below.

 

Pico Island formed from a volcano and the majestic Mt Pico stands tall above the island, luring many people to make the ascent to the top, above the clouds. The sides of the mountain also descend deep into the ocean on the south coast of Pico which sets up the perfect conditions for an upswell of the phytoplankton where the whales can feed. Whale experts choose to conduct their research here as the sightings are so exceptional.  Also Pico featured in a recent Steve Backshall Sky TV Documentary “Whale” where he encountered female Sperm whale nursery groups. You will be given talks about whale behaviour and recent discoveries, learn about the research done in the Azores. Your trips to sea will offer opportunities to observe their feeding, hunting and socialising. The boat is often surrounded by curious dolphins close to shore and it is extremely rare not to see anything as our land based lookouts help the boats spot the animals.

We offer this special small exclusive group tour in the spring. The tour dates are set at the best time to get some excellent sightings of Blue whales, Fin and Humpback whales when they stop over to feed on the nutrient rich-water close to shore.

Introducing oceanographer and marine science researcher, Russell Arnott

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You will be part of an exclusive small group tour where you will meet other like-minded whale enthusiasts, accompanied by expert marine biologists on all trips to sea. For 2025 we are pleased to have oceanographer and marine science researcher, Russell Arnott from Incredible Oceans joining us with fascinating talks and presentations! Russell Arnott has a passion for marine science and ocean conservation. He is a unique and engaging presenter and has specific knowledge of the marine life and the fascinating geological origin of the Azores Islands. He is a published author and wrote “Ocean Endangered” which explores marine conservation issues and offers to guidance to individuals who want to take action and make a difference. He also runs a marine conservation charity called Incredible Oceans and currently teaches marine science at University level

 

 

More information about the group guide and marine biologists are sent to guests each year with their welcome documents before departing for the Azores.

 

We take care of all the logistics so you can relax and enjoy the experience

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From the moment you step off the plane, our team will ensure everything is taken care of. You will be met at the airport and taken to your hotel where you will meet your expert guide over welcome drinks.  Your guide will be with you throughout the duration of your holiday ensuring you get the best experience possible. There will be regular briefings and updates, with plenty of opportunities to ask questions.

Why are the Blue Whales ‘Ocean Giants’ choosing the Azores?

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blue whale tail Pico island AzoresCetaceans are drawn to the Azores by the fertile water, rich in phytoplankton, which is the perfect place for the ‘baleen whales’ to stopover to feed en route north. Every year, a  spring phytoplankton bloom warmed by the temperate waters of the gulf stream around the Azores archipelago attracts a unique gathering of huge, ravenous Blue, Fin, Sei and Baleen whales (largest whales) on their migration routes to the feeding grounds of the northern Atlantic. Their numbers are increasing around the Azores and Pico Island which boasts some exceptional sightings.

 

RIB boat with onboard toilet

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The boat used is a hard hulled inflatable RIB boats with onboard toilet facilities. The boats are very sturdy and can move easily and reach the whales swiftly, even if the sea is choppy. However, there can be some jerky movements on rougher seas. If you have back problems, or feel you prefer a boat with toilet facilities, we recommend you go on the Ocean Giants small group tour on Ponta Delgada as this tour uses a large stable catamaran.

Often, our boat is the only vessel around the animals which is very special. The research boats go to the best places to see the whales and approach with minimum disturbance in order to see as much natural behaviour as possible.

“We were on the boat and a huge gasp went up from everyone on board; a Fin whale had swum in front of the boat and opened its mouth out of the water to feed. It was only a split second but thatsight is engraved on my memory.” Margaret Merris, May 2018

 

Island tour included in your holiday

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volcanic vineyards Azores walking holidaysWe will start our tour through the central part of the island. Once at the top, we will visit Lagoa do Capitão, one of the most beautiful lakes in Pico. It is part of the protected landscape area of “zona central” and also a good place to observe resident and migratory birds  as well as the native vegetation. Crossing the high plateau to the North Coast, we can enjoy excellent views of the ocean and the neighbour island São Jorge. From here we continue in the direction of São Roque where we get to know one of the many natural pools that is very appreciated by the local community. 

At the town of São Roque we visit the Whaling Industry Museum where we will learn more about our history. From here, we drive through the coastline with stops at Cachorro and Lajido – ancient wine production places. There, we will find typical adegas (wine cellars) and other places associated with the golden wine age. After lunch at a local restaurant in Madalena, we will stop in the vineyards of Criação Velha, the most emblematic place to understand why Pico’s vineyard landscape was classified UNESCO Heritage in 2004. On the way back to Lajes we still have time to stop at the Mistery of São João, one of the latest volcanic eruptions of the island. This tour has it all: interesting facts about whales, wine, beautiful landscapes, local culture and traditions. It will give you a global overview of Pico Island. 

Flights from the UK and mainland Europe via Lisbon or Porto to Pico Island

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It is easy to get to The Azores on flights from many UK and European airports, as well as from the USA. You can also travel via Lisbon and Porto from mainland Portugal.

 

Pico Island Azores
Location and Flights

Holiday location: Pico Island (PIX) Azores.

The Azores are an archipelago of 9 islands in the middle of the Atlantic – the only territory between America and Europe. There are 3 groups of islands: the eastern group (Sao Miguel, Santa Maria), the central group (Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Terceira and Graciosa) and the western group (Corvo and Flores).

This holiday takes place on Pico Island  – central group in the archipelago.

The abundance of dolphins and whales around the islands make the Azores one of the key locations worldwide for whale and dolphin watching. Few locations in the world offer such immaculate landscape and exceptional marine wildlife. A Portuguese territory, the nine islands, dominated by a volcanic mountain range, offer a rare and unspoiled natural beauty, having retained their cultural integrity and escaped the ravages of commercial tourism. There is a wild and elemental quality here, the ocean’s presence is never far away and breathing the air alone is invigorating. Some say, it is the last vestiges of the lost continent of Atlantis! There are meadows filled with the scent of wild herbs and vivid, colourful flowers line the roads. It is the perfect setting to relax and slow down.

Flights are not included in the cost of our holidays. On most days of the week there are flights from the UK to Pico Island via mainland Europe. You can also fly to Pico from Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island which can be reached by direct flights from the UK, Europe, America and Canada.

For ease we have a dedicated flight booking agent, Rupender Bhoday from The Flight Centre. Rupender knows our holidays and can book the best flights for you. Please email:  [email protected]  or call: 07442 857639. You can also reach her via The Flight Centre main contact number 0207 925 1114 (ask to speak to Rupender Bhoday on the “Associates” team).

Giant Whales Azores
Itinerary

Day 1

Arrival in the Azores. Transfers to hotel. Welcome briefing and introductions, complimentary drinks, orientation in the local area. You have time for a rest! Schedule of whale-watching boat trips will be discussed and you will have a chance to meet the whole team and your guide during your dinner in a local restaurant with group in the evening.

Day 2

Board the RIB Zodiac for morning whale-watching. At convenient times during the week you will be given audio-visual briefing about the whales and dolphins of the Azores, with lots of visuals and information about the history of whaling and whale-watching in the Azores. Your on board guide will provide in depth information about the wildlife and will be available to discuss the sightings and help you get the best shots of the whales!

Days 3 to 7

Overall itinerary of the week will be announced when you arrive to fit with best weather. Each day will be either morning or afternoon boat trip. There will be opportunities for excursions around the island to fit with your five half-day trips to sea. If there is any weather disruption your trips will be moved to another day or later in the day so that you go out during the best possible weather and conditions. Evening meals will be a combination of eating in the hotel restaurant and eating with the group and guide (subject to group preference). There will also be further talks and presentations from the marine biologist giving you a rich understanding of the whales of the Azores, local history and culture.

Day 8

Departure day. Transfer to airport from hotel.

Other activities

A full day tour of the island is included to give you a chance to appreciate the island’s rugged beauty and charm. Learn about the local culture, the volcanic origins of the island and see the vineyards, caves and mountain villages There is access to swim in the sea from a sheltered lagoon (temperature permitting), nearby walks, bird watching, snorkelling and diving. We also offer talks and presentations on marine and land birdlife. There is a whaling museum giving the history of the old whaling culture which stopped 25 years ago.

Highlights

 

Expert marine biologists in Pico

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This exclusive small group is led by an expert marine biologist and guide.  They will run a programme of talks and activities. They are very enthusiastic and passionate about dolphins and whales.

On this tour, you will have a chance to learn how the marine biologists conduct research: for example, photo ID, acoustic sampling with the hydrophone and data collection.

View the whales underwater in ‘real’ time using an underwater Go Pro as they pass beside the boat.

 

Exceptional sightings

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baleen whale feeding AzoresIn recent years, we have been blessed with some exceptional sightings. Our groups have seen Blue, Fin and Humpback whales on many occasions, some so close to the boat you could smell their ‘exhale’ which had the aroma of their over-indulgent feeding on the krill. Even when the weather is challenging, we are usually able to reschedule cancelled boat trips to another day.

 

 

Land based lookouts to locate the whales

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Vigia Azores Whale Watching holidaysOur expert lookouts or ‘Vigia’ can spot the whales from land as they pass close to the volcanic islands and they direct the boats by radio contact to locate the whales. This makes for consistently excellent sightings, said to be some of the best in the world. It is a much more efficient system than searching for whales when out at sea. The lookouts were historically used to sight whales for hunting which was banned in the Azores nearly 30 years ago. The lookouts are employed by the whale watching companies instead for tourists to appreciate the beauty of these magnificent creatures rather than killing them – a true win for conservation.

Abundance of species

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Fin whale open mouth AzoresThe Azores boasts a tremendous variety of species with these giant migrating ‘Baleen whales’ frequently sighted in the spring as well as the resident Sperm whales who make the Azores their home as well as their breeding grounds. We frequently see the nursery groups of females with young. The abundance of dolphins are a delight, riding in the bow wave of the boat, leaping and twirling with joy. It is also possible to observe short finned Pilot whales, Orca, Bottlenose whales, seven species of dolphin, sea birds and marine life such as turtles and manta ray.

Responsible boat operators

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Our whale watching company has a research base offering a wealth of information and resources for our guests and it is possible to learn about the many research projects and conservation efforts being conducted around the Azores. Our guests are very impressed by the high standard offered by our boat company who are dedicated to offering you the best experience, as well as ensuring that all boat approaches are done in a responsible way where the welfare of the whales comes first.

What people said!

I would just like to say that this holiday far surpassed my expectations. The whole holiday from beginning to end was very well organised…I would definitely recommend this holiday to any wildlife and nature lovers…Pico Island is so unspoilt, it’s a great place to relax and not touristy at all. The day tour of the island was very good and very informative. – Helen Shimwell May 2022

The whole holiday was a dream come true…Our guide was phenomenal, his passion and knowledge of the cetaceans shone through all week and the crew on the rib were fantastic too both knowledgeable and engaging. Everything was well organised, and as a solo traveller that gave me peace of mind. I look forward to my next trip! – Helen Shimwell May 2022

“Seeing so many whales and dolphins, the group I was with, the fantastic hotel I stayed in. The holiday benefited local people and supported conservation. A magical holiday. Pick the exclusive small group tour, I think there is a bonding when there are only 12 people, compared with having a lot more people and you get longer at sea” Alice Caldwell

 

“Our tour was fascinating, led by an expert guide and whale researcher, really lovely guy who gave short seminars after the trips recapping on what we had seen and allowing us time to consider and ask questions as he was passionate about sharing his fascination for these animals and their conservation. The sightings were outstanding and all the team ensured we were always where the action was!”  Richard Christie

“What I liked about this tour was that often we were the only boat out with the whales – we felt privileged to have so much time with the whales and observe their behaviour first hand” Rosy Hughes

The cost of this tour varies according to your choice of accommodation. The standard accommodation is our 3* harbour hotel or you can upgrade to a 4* hotel, luxury villa or private house.

Prices for this Holiday including Acccommodation

 

Use the tabs below to find out more about our different accommodation options

With views across the ocean and towards Mount Pico and just 3 minutes walk to the marina, this hotel is in a great location. Rooms come equipped with satellite TV and a private bathroom with shower.  Buffet breakfast is included.

Ocean Giants Small Group Tour, Pico Island, Azores Prices

Including 3* BB at Hotel Bela Vista

£1390 per person

Single person supplement £160

2025 Dates:

26 April - 03 May, 03 May - 10 May