Family Swimming with Wild Dolphins & Whale Watching Azores

2022 DATES: 02 – 23 April, 28 May – 04 June, 16 July – 03 September

2023 DATES: 01 – 22 April, 27 May – 03 June, 15 July – 02 September 

This is the perfect holiday for those that want the best of both worlds – above and below the waves. Come eye to eye with playful inquisitive dolphins as you swim alongside them and get up close and personal with some of the world’s largest whales on an exhilarating voyage to sea.

Sao Miguel Island, Azores

Prices from £880 adult, £675 teen and £437 child

Family Memories to Last a Lifetime

Swim with wild dolphins and get up close and personal with the largest animals on the planet!

An Abundance of Wildlife

Spring is the best time to see the Blue, Humpback and Fin whales. In the summer you are certain to see many species including Sperm, Beaked and Pilot Whales as well as Orca and super pods of dolphins!

About this holiday

 

Be well prepared for this exciting new experience

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family swimming with dolphinsYour experience starts with a briefing to learn how to swim in the open ocean with the wild dolphins. It is important you are familiar with wearing a mask and snorkel or learn before you go out. Our expert guides will ensure you know what to expect and your safety and confidence are at the heart of the preparation.  We supply wetsuits and snorkelling equipment as part of the holiday. You will go out to sea in small groups of 8 people and the way the boats approach the dolphins and swimmers enter the water follows responsible guidelines

“The numbers of boats were well regulated and the dolphins are approached responsibly with minimum disturbance. We found the guides looked after us and as confidence grew during the week we had some very exciting moments seeing the dolphins right beneath us, truly magical ” Anne Johnson and family

Meet wild dolphins from the boats and underwater

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Zodiac RIB dolphin watching AzoresA short distance from the shore we will be guided to the dolphins with the assistance of our expert land based lookouts. It is an absolute joy see large pods of dolphins leaping with joy over the ocean waves, jumping and dancing in the bow waves just an arms’ length beneath your gaze. Both in the water and watching from the boats, you will feel part of the dolphin’s magical underwater world, seeing their exquisite movements and listening to a symphony of sound. It usually takes a little time to get confident and you will be assisted all the way as you climb off the boat and look beneath you. It is a very exhilarating feeling and we ensure all approaches by the boats and people are done with minimum disturbance where the encounters are on the dolphin’s terms. They are very curious and it is a delight to witness their natural behaviour hunting, socialising and playing.

Best place to see dolphins and whales in the wild

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Pilot whale head Azores holidayThe Azores archipelago is renowned as one of the best places to see dolphins and whales in the wild. Throughout the year, March to October being the best time to visit for abundant sightings and diversity of species. The whale numbers and sightings seem to be increasing around the Azores, as are the super pods of various species of dolphins riding in the bow wave of the boat and leaping and twirling with joy. All our trips are with responsible operators who have sensitivity and respect for the wellbeing of the whales and dolphins. The ethos on the Islands is to preserve the natural environment and develop responsible and sustainable tourism that contributes to conservation.

 

 

Choice of accommodation

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We offer attractive child prices (12 years and under) when sharing a large quad room with adults, and also teen discounts. You can select the style and budget of an accommodation option that suits your needs. Our standard 4* hotel is included in the package price and you can upgrade to a boutique 5* hotel. There is a budget option to reduce the cost of your holiday.

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

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

Marine Biologist Azores
BE A MARINE BIOLOGIST FOR THE DAY

£124 (adult) £62 (child 12yrs and under)

All of our holidays offer the once in a life time opportunity for you to “Be a Marine Biologist for a Day” – the perfect program for those with a keen appetite to learn. You will enjoy a fun filled classroom presentation from one of our marine biologist before spending a full day with them on a small RIB learning research techniques such as data collection, photo ID and listening to underwater acoustics using the hydrophone. You will get away from the main tourist trail and have opportunities for a lot more contact with the animals. This a fully immersive day allowing you to step inside the shoes of our marine biologists and learn about their research. This activity can be added onto your holiday program.

Your day starts at our local boat base, walking distance from your hotel, with a fun filled classroom presentation from one of our marine biologists. You will then board the sturdy RIB zodiac boat and spend a full day at sea, travelling further along the coast to rich feeding grounds, giving you a closer look into the lives of the whales and dolphins you’ll meet – some are even known by name!

You will be accompanied by our expert local guides and marine biologists who love sharing their extensive knowledge of these incredible creatures. They will teach you research techniques such as data collection, photo ID and listening to underwater acoustics using the hydrophone.

You will break for lunch, on land, joined by your marine biologist so be sure to ask lots of questions!

You’ll learn about the biology, habitat and behaviour of the cetaceans and participate in valuable research and conservation initiatives helping to preserve the oceans for future generations.

This is a superb addition to any trip and is ideally suited to adults and children who are keen to get hands on in the world of conservation.  Your little budding marine biologists will love the exciting and energetic way our research experts teach techniques and engage the children in learning.

 

family swimming with dolphins
Sample Itinerary

Day 1:

Travel day. Transfer to the hotel from the airport, with time to settle in.

Day 2:

Enjoy a leisurely morning exploring the local town and walking around the stunning botanical gardens. You could even take a dip in the towns naturally heated open air pool before heading down to the boat base for your first half day whale and dolphin watching trip to sea. You will be given the onboard briefing all about Marine life in the Azorean Ocean, how we work and how best to spot the whales. If there is any weather disruption your trip to sea will be moved to another day or later in the day so that you go out during the best possible weather and conditions.

Day 3:

Your first swimming with wild dolphins boat trip will either be in the morning or the afternoon. Before going out to sea, you will be given a safety briefing and learn about the protocol for boat approaches when swimming with dolphins in the Azores. After learning how best to swim with wild dolphins, you’ll head out to sea to put what you’ve learned into practice wearing your mask and snorkel (supplied). An audio-visual presentation about the many dolphin and whale species in the surrounding waters will be scheduled into your week.

Day 4:

Second trip to sea to swim with wild dolphins in the Azores. You will be more confident today; knowing what to expect to get the most out of this once in a lifetime experience. This afternoon you could take a jeep tour of the island’s wild, volcanic scenery, go hiking or explore the famous spots that mark the island’s history.

Day 5:

Third trip to sea to swim with wild dolphins. You will realise that each one of your trips to sea give very different encounters all dependent on the mood of the dolphins. This afternoon you may wish visit the lakes and kayak, paddle board, mountain bike or join a walking tour. The Sete Cidades Adventure Centre has something for all the family to enjoy!

Day 6:

Option to add our “Be a Marine Biologist for the day” whale and dolphin full day research trip. A really fun and exciting way for children to  learn research techniques such as data collection, photo ID and listening to underwater acoustics using the hydrophone. You will get away from the main tourist trail and have opportunities for a lot more contact with the animals.

Day 7:

Free day or take another half day at sea whale and dolphin watching giving you more chances of sighting the giant whales or add a full day tour to Furnas and explore the geothermal activty deep in the heart of the island, you can also take time to relax in the hot thermal pools set in beautiful botanical gardens.

Day 8:

Depending on your departure time there may be time for one last spot of shopping after breakfast or even an extra boat trip in the morning. Transfer to airport for flight home.

Highlights

 

Expert Guides

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Marine BiologistOur expert dolphin swim guides and marine biologists are there to ensure you get the most from this holiday. They have plenty of experience working with children and make learning and safety fun!

During your whale watching excursion you will be accompanied by our expert local guides and marine biologists who love to share their extensive knowledge on the whales and dolphins you’ll meet – what they don’t know isn’t worth knowing. There will be talks and presentations before heading out to sea so you will be well prepared.

Best Sightings

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Vigia Azores Whale Watching holidaysThe “Vigia” or land based lookouts on the shore guide us by radio contact to direct the boats to the whales and dolphins. This makes for consistently excellent sightings, the best in the world some say! We see whales & dolphins on 98% of our trips to sea.  Our guests are very impressed by the high standard offered by our boat company who are dedicated to offering you the best experience, nothing is too much trouble.

 

Safety and support

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Before you embark on your Swimming with Dolphins adventure you will be given pre-trip preparation information and a safety briefing on board the boat. Our guides are there to look after your safety every step of the way. They will give you tips on how to behave in the water to ensure you have some incredible encounters with the dolphins and by the end of the week you will know so much about these beautiful marine mammals, their behaviour and communication as well as having lots of interesting scientific facts about how they live and information on conserving the habitat of the dolphins.

Welfare of the wild dolphins

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RIB boat Azores dolphin watchingWe do everything to minimize disturbance upon the dolphins and their habitat. We invite our guests to be involved, giving feedback when on the water and ensuring all operators are following the best practice guidelines.

Overview

Family Swimming with Wild Dolphins & Whale Watching
(code FAMCOMBI)

Location: Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island - Azores

What’s included:  

  • Three half days swimming with wild dolphins trips to sea
  • One half day whale watching trip to sea on sturdy catamaran with viewing platform
  • Talks and presentations from local marine biologists
  • 7 nights accommodation 
  • Services of local personnel at our boat base who co-ordinate your entire holiday program
  • All airport transfers from/to Ponta Delgada airport

Optional activities: Book additional trips to sea and land tours

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: Standard 4* B&B hotel, with budget and upgrade options available

Meals: Breakfast included. Self catered options available

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Price: From £880 per adult, £675 teens and £437 children based on sharing a family room. See below for details

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

Dates 2021: 3 – 10 April, 10 – 17 April, 29 May – 5 June, 24 July – 28 August

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

“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

 

“What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday? – Crystal clear blue seas and blue skies – Seeing so many whales and dolphins in their natural habitat and on their own terms, with human beings having to play second fiddle for a change – The passion, knowledge and genuine love of their work shown by all the guides – The group bonding that derives from a common shared experience

All the guides at the base were local people who had a deep commitment to animal welfare and to minimising the environmental footprint of our holiday This was the most wonderful week ever. I cannot thank the local team and the Dolphin Connection enough. I would not hesitate to go back again, and very much hope to do so  in the future.” Ali Pemble

“This was an outstanding holiday! Seeing the blow of our first ever sighting of a sperm whale! Then jumping into our seats and speeding across the Atlantic Ocean until we got within a short distance away  from her in time to see the whale diving and throwing up the iconic whale tail.   And all captured by my camera… I was literally blown away and couldn’t wait for the next sighting. We are returning as soon as we can!” Diane and Peter Malloy

Prices for this Holiday and Acccommodation

 

 Our holiday prices below include accommodation at our standard 4* Sao Miguel Park Hotel

You can also upgrade to a boutique hotel or 5* or you can opt for budget options to reduce the cost of your holiday.

 

A beautiful 4-star hotel with excellent location and facilities. It is a 15-minute walk to our base for the boats and the city’s beautiful botanical gardens are close by. The rooms are light, quiet and well-ventilated. Even though the hotel has great access to our boats, the hotel is far away from the noise of the seafront or busy city areas.

The hotel is ideal for families or large groups and rooms can easily accommodate up to two extra beds. Spacious rooms are sound proofed with air-conditioning and equipped with TV and fridge. There is the option to upgrade to sea/city view rooms (ask us for details). The hotel has a gym, indoor and outdoor pool with sun loungers, sauna, jacuzzi, games room, bar, restaurant with sea views and free parking for guests. A buffet breakfast is included. 

Family Swimming with Wild Dolphins and Whale Watching Holiday Per Person Prices

4* Sao Miguel Park Hotel

Mid Season • 01 - 30 April 

  • Adult price (2 adults family room) £880
  • Additional adults/teens aged 13yrs + sharing with 2 adults (family room) £675
  • Additional children 3 - 12yrs sharing with 2 adults (family room) £437
  • Infants 0 - 2 years £50
  • Price does not include flights

 

High Season • 01 May - 30 September

  • Adult price (2 adults family room) £975
  • Additional adults/teens aged 13yrs + sharing with 2 adults (family room) £695
  • Additional children 3 - 12yrs sharing with 2 adults (family room) £440
  • Infants 0 - 2 years £50
  • Price does not include flights

All of the accommodation featured below has been visited by us and checked for quality, good reviews, facilities and distance to our boat base and the harbour (5-20mins walk). They are also a short walking distance to good restaurants and shops.

The price of this holiday with any of our alternative accommodation options below is the standard holiday price (staying at 4* Sao Miguel Park Hotel) with either a discount or supplement applied. Please see your preferred accommodation page below for details of the applicable discount or supplement.