Ocean Giants, Exclusive Small Group Tour

Blue Whales, Fin Whales and Humpback Whales

Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Azores

2022 DATES: 30 Apr –  07 May, 07 – 14 May, 14 – 21 May

2023 DATES: 29 Apr –  06 May , 06 – 13 May, 13 May – 20 May

Join this exclusive small group tour to witness one of nature’s great events, huge gatherings of the biggest whales on the planet visit these unspoilt Islands to feed in the nutrient rich waters – a breath taking spectacle!

Ocean Giants, Exclusive Small Group Tour

Prices from £1190 pp.

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.

Incredible Sightings

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

Sao Miguel Island, Azores

Explore the island and swim in the hot thermal pools.

About this holiday


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

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blue whale tail in AzoresFrom 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 you 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.

Be part of an exclusive small group tour

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We offer this special, small exclusive group tour in May which is popular with whale enthusiasts and those who want to see whales for the first time. There is a programme of talks and activities led by our expert whale researcher and marine biologist guides. The dates coincide with the annual migration of the Blue whales, Fin whales and Humpbacks. This is a unique opportunity for you to view these Ocean Giants in their Mid Atlantic feeding grounds – sightings have been exceptional over the last few years. Being part of a special small group tour gives you a very informative experience which you can share with others in the group – the whole experience is fun and sociable. Some meals are included for the  group in local restaurants with your guide.

You will be accompanied by expert guide and whale researcher

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whale research holidays AzoresThe guide will be with your small group, ensuring you don’t miss any sightings and that you have a great vantage point for taking photographs and viewing the animals. His explanations really add another dimension to your understanding of the behaviour of the whales. He will also ensure you go out to sea at the optimum times for best sea conditions and weather to maximise your enjoyment.

“Our tour was led by expert guide, Rui, a whale researcher who collaborates with whale researchers worldwide, which is vital for this species protection. Passionate, hardworking, sharing and kind sums Rui up to a tee. He is literally the nicest guy you will ever meet! The guide and the local team were always caring, smiling and super enthusiastic. The trips out to sea were utterly amazing with many sightings of Blue, Sperm and Fin whales together with several dolphin and turtle species. There were numerous other creatures all expertly described by Rui (the man’s knowledge is unbelievable).We were also educated as to the role of the spotters (locally known as the Vigia) and we were fortunate to meet one who guided us to the animals. Learning about this was a real pleasure.

We were given short seminars after the trips, recapping what we had seen and allowing us time to consider these sightings so we could ask Rui questions. He was always passionate about sharing his fascination for these animals and all things nature in general.

I was very worried about getting seasick as I’m not good on the water, however, just taking some travel sickness pills sorted that out and I had no issues at all.” Richard Christie

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

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Cetaceans are drawn to the Azores by the fertile water, rich in phytoplankton, which is the perfect place for a 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.

“This tour was quite simply astounding….epic….beyond belief….it was one of the best days of my life to see and feel these giant whales close to the boat.”



Best time to go

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May dates have been chosen as statistics show that this time will offer you the best chance to see these migrating whales when they stopover and spend a few days to feed on the rich food source here. This is something unique in the whole of Europe. May also offers better sea conditions than March and April with warmer temperatures.



Direct flights from the UK and mainland Europe

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It is easy to get to The Azores on direct flights from the UK, many European cities and the USA. You can also travel via Lisbon and Porto from mainland Portugal. See our getting there section.


Location and Flights

Location: Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Azores. The Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal, are an archipelago of 9 islands in the mid-Atlantic. Our holidays are based in Ponta Delgada, the capital of Sao Miguel Island – the largest island 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. Read more about the Azores here

The following is information about DIRECT FLIGHTS FROM UK TO PONTA DELGADA:


Flights are not included in the cost of our holidays. This holiday takes place on Sao Miguel island, Azores and you will be staying in Ponta Delgada, a 15-minute drive from the airport.

From April to June 2022

From Stansted (STN) to Ponta Delgada (PDL)

Saturday direct day time flights with Ryanair

From Manchester (MAN) to Ponta Delgada (PDL)

Friday direct flights with Ryanair

From July to August 2022

From Stansted (STN) to Ponta Delgada (PDL)

Saturday direct day time flights with Ryanair

Tuesday, Friday and Sunday direct day time flights with SATA

From Heathrow (LHR) to Ponta Delgada (PDL)

Saturday direct day time flights from Heathrow (LHR) to Ponta Delgada (PDL) with British Airways

From Manchester (MAN) to Ponta Delgada (PDL)

Friday direct flights with Ryanair

From September to October 2022

From Stansted (STN) to Ponta Delgada (PDL)

Saturday direct day time flights with Ryanair

Tuesday, Friday and Sunday direct day time flights with SATA

From Manchester (MAN) to Ponta Delgada (PDL)

Friday direct flights with Ryanair

There are also flights from regional airports to Ponta Delgada via Lisbon/Oporto. Check all options for flights to Ponta Delgada at www.skyscanner.net

For ease we have a dedicated flight agent who can help arrange and book flights (except Ryanair) for you. Please contact Rupender.Bhoday@flightcentre.co.uk or call Rupender on 0207 925 1114

blue whale azores
Sample 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 complimentary dinner a local restaurant with group in the evening.

Day 2

Board the catamaran 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, discuss the sightings, share details on current research and help you get the best shots of the whales!

Days 3-5

Days 3 to 5 inclusive: 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 6

You will be collected from your hotel this morning for a full day tour to the village of Furnas on the East of the Island (approx. 45 mins journey time). One of the most active thermal locations on Earth with steaming fumeroles,  the Valley of Furnas is a volcanic crater which has been dormant since 1630, the date of the last eruption. The most popular attraction for most visitors to Furnas is no doubt the thermal baths and you will enjoy bathing in water from the interior of the earth, charged with minerals at the thermal pool of Terra Nostra Park. You will also sample the local “Cozido” at lunch time in a local restaurant – a meat or vegetable stew cooked geothermally underground. 

Day 7

An opportunity for an additional trip to sea or another land tour. The evening will be an opportunity for a celebratory drink in the bar where you can share some of the photos taken and remember your highlights of the holiday followed by a complimentary meal with your guide.

Day 8

Departure day. Transfer to airport from hotel.



Excellent boat

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Catamaran whale dolphin watching holidays AzoresThis small group tour takes place on a large stable catamaran that has other passengers on board. The catamaran has excellent viewing platforms, railings and a great vantage point for taking photos. There is plenty of space to walk around, outdoor and indoor seating and toilet facilities. Your group will be together accompanied by your expert guide who will be there to ensure you are looking in the right places to see the whales.

“We were on the cat 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 that sight is engraved on my memory.” Margaret Merris, May 2018.

Exceptional sightings

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Hump back whale 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.

“We saw Humpbacks on our trip and to our astonishment, 50 metres from the boat one leapt out of the water and crashed backdown with a mighty splash! We really got an idea of just how ginormous these animals are.”


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.

Responsible boat operators

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Catamaran holidays in AzoresOur whale watching company has a research base offering a wealth of information and resources for our guests. 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.


Luxury harbour view accommodation

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Hotel Marina AtlanticoYou will stay in the harbour-front Hotel Marina Atlantico in a superior ocean view room with balcony. A delicious breakfast buffet is included as well as two group evening meals with your guide. The group are all in the same place making it a good place for a social drink in the bar as well as informal group meetings. There is a single supplement for solo travellers to suit all budgets.
Your hotel is ideally located – everything is within easy walking distance from where you can explore the delights of this lively harbour town which is an international port.



Have an authentic experience on the Sao Miguel island tour

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Furnas thermal hot springsYour tour includes a full day island tour. Our local guides will take you to the hot thermal pools and geysers deep in the island’s interior at Furnas and teach you about the geothermal activity. Your visit will include a swim in hot thermal pools and lunch (cooked underground) in a local restaurant. Free time can be spent exploring the island at your leisure (on foot on bike or by kayak), visiting the stunning botanical gardens, enjoying presentations from our marine biologist guides or simply relaxing by the pool.



Blue Whale Ocean Giants Small Group Tour, Sao Miguel Island, Azores
(code OGPDL)

Location: Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island - Azores

What’s included:  

  • 2 Full day and 1 half day trips to sea
  • Expert marine biologist guide and whale researchers to accompany guests on the boat
  • Maximum small group of 14 guests with guide onboard large catamaran boat (there will be other guests onboard that are not part of our small group).
  • Sturdy catamaran boat (40 - 60 capacity) with spacious viewing decks, tiered seating and toilet facilities. 
  • Full day geothermal tour to Furnas with "Cozido" lunch
  • 7 nights accommodation 
  • Group meal with guide at the beginning and end of the holiday
  • Welcome drinks on arrival
  • All airport transfers from/to Ponta Delgada airport

Optional activities:  Option for an additional half day trip to sea with your guide and land tours to explore this stunning island.

Nights: 7

Extra nights: Option to extend your stay in the Azores, with extra nights at your hotel, visit another part of Sao Miguel or visit other islands

Accommodation: Luxury harbourside 4* B&B hotel with sea view room with balcony. Budget options available

Meals: Breakfast included. 2 dinners and 1 lunch group. Self catered options available.

Price: From £1190 per person. See below for details.

Flights: Not included. We give you guidance on booking flights to Ponta Delgada (PDL) Sao Miguel Island. See location and flights above

Dates 2021: 01 –  08 May,
08 – 15 May, 15 – 22 May

Dates 2022: 30 April - 07 May, 
07 – 14 May, 14 – 21 May

Flexible dates: This holiday can also be arranged to start any day of the week to fit with flights

What people said!

“Seeing the ocean giants so close was amazing. I recommend booking this experience, and think about adding an extra week to visit the other islands.

The company carries out research and raises awareness of the whales and dolphins and how amazing they are. The information given by the guides was fantastic They work with the university, helping with student research as well as taking out holiday-makers. An excellent holiday.” Sarah Grandy


“Seeing far more whales, and more closely, than I ever expected. I think it supported conservation. A wonderful experience.” Anne Whittle

“Seeing so many whales and dolphins, the group I was with, the fantastic hotel I stayed in. The holiday benefitted 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. Also you get longer at sea, and as for Horta – it was so beautiful! For all that you get, it works out so cheap. I don’t understand how they can give you so much for that price!” Alice Caldwell


“We were lucky enough to see our first blue whale within an hour of setting out in the catamaran. Then seeing over 50 whales and over 100 dolphins over the three days was amazing. We saw blue, fin, sei and sperm whales.

Fantastic holiday! We saw everything we hoped for and more. The Azores are an amazing holiday destination and we enjoyed seeing the interior of the island with its lakes, mountains and geo-thermal activity. As plant lovers, we particularly enjoyed the botanical gardens. We will be back.” David Turley


“The whole trip was an adventure. The boat trips were amazing. We were lucky enough to see three different types of dolphin on each trip and a manta ray on one of the trips.

The operator minimised environmental impacts and supported conservation. The animals’ welfare was always taken into account on our approach. The guides were very knowledgeable and answered any questions we had.
This was a truly amazing holiday!!” Stewart Sinclaire 

Prices for this Holiday including Acccommodation

Over looking the harbour with views out to sea and just a few minutes walk from our boat base, this contemporary 4**** hotel has excellent facilities and spacious, well equipped rooms. Facilities include a modern health suite with indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and gym. The restaurant has views over the harbour and serves a delicious buffet breakfast. Free WiFi is available in all areas of the hotel. Rooms are sound proofed and come equipped with air conditioning, cable TV, minibar and en-suite facilities. Guests on our Ocean Giants Small Group Tour are allocated sea view rooms with a balcony.

Ocean Giants Exclusive Small Group Tour, Sao Miguel Island, Azores Prices

Including 4* Superior BB at Hotel Marina Atlantico

£1190 per person

Single person supplement £440


2022 available dates:

30 April – 07 May, 07 – 14 May, 14 - 21 May


2023 available dates:

29 April - 06 May, 06 - 13 May, 13 - 20 May

Our solo travellers have the option to stay at our smaller (39 rooms), family run Hotel Camoes. This 4**** town hotel is centrally located just a short 5 minute walk to the boat base and harbour. The hotel is set in a traditional building that has been tastefully restored with an underlying theme of Portuguese overseas exploration. There is a restaurant, bar and free WIFI throughout. Rooms come equipped with TV, mini bar and air conditioning. Buffet breakfast is included.

Ocean Giants Exclusive Small Group Tour, Sao Miguel Island, Azores Prices

Including 4* BB at Hotel Camoes

£1190 per person

Single person supplement £80



2022 available dates:

30 April – 07 May, 07 – 14 May, 14 - 21 May


2023 available dates:

29 April - 06 May, 06 - 13 May, 13 - 20 May