Shark diving in the Azores

Scuba Travel ambassador Tomas Jansson came home from a shark diving trip in the Azores with a group of friends, and has shared with us his experiences and photos from the trip.

“This autumn it was three years since I last visited the magically beautiful volcanic islands between Europe and North America. Now my fourth visit awaited and my companions would be a group of curious and happy divers from Sweden and England. I had my thoughts if the sharks would be there and if we would be lucky with the weather out at Princess Alice.

Arrival and encounter with whales

After a day's flight and a night in Lisbon we took the early morning flight over to The azores. At the ferry stop on Pico we were greeted by CW Azores; they would take care of us during the stay on the island. When we checked in at the diving center, we continued to the hotel, which was a stone's throw away. Now we were told that the whale watchers on the island had seen baleen whales out at sea. We were not late in taking our seats in the rib boat, which in a cascade of water set off at full speed. The adventure was in full swing! I hadn't counted on whales, because it wasn't in season for them this time of year.

After a while the whales appeared very close, right in front of the boat. What a start we got. Depending on the season is Pico one of the best places for whale and dolphin watching. With a big smile on our faces, we returned to the dive center to prepare the diving equipment for tomorrow's check dive.

Princess alice

It felt good to finally get into the water and get a feel for the equipment and balance. Important that everything would be okay before the type of dive that awaited. Early the next morning we went out to Princess Alice, a seamount 50 nautical miles (92,6 km) southwest of Pico. There's always an adventure out there. When we arrived after a few hours, we saw free divers in the water. Would it turn out that luck was on our side? Previous years had been tough out here with strong currents, which resulted in me never being able to take good pictures so far.

We went down via the rope to get right. In the weak current around the mountain, large groups of Mobulas rays had gathered. They were everywhere, sometimes even in our bubbles. A unique encounter that was felt in the whole body, made one happy and happy at the same time. Floating in the blue with over 30 coats around you is like sucking on a delicious caramel that lasts a long time. Another successful day at sea.

Blue shark

The following day it was time to dive with blue sharks. Before we set off, we were given clear instructions by the guides on how to get the best encounter. It took about 20 minutes for the rib boat to come out to the place where we would start baiting the sharks. How long the wait would be depended on the sharks, the currents and the wind. "Shark," cried the captain, pointing down to the surface. A large dorsal fin broke the surface of the water and we saw a large blue shark. It resembled a large airplane with its large pectoral fins. Now it was up to the guide to find out if the shark would accept us before we entered the water.

We got the go-ahead and slid carefully into the clear blue water. As the boat drifted with the weak current, it was important that we went down via the rope. Cautiously, like a curious dog, it approached us, as if it wanted to check who we were. It swam around us at very close range, before carefully swimming on. The next two days continued with successful shark dives.

Dolphins and journey home

Our journey was now drawing to a close. The last day, and we were going to snorkel with wild dolphins. We saw common dolphin and greater bottlenose dolphin. We snorkeled with the latter. Getting up close and personal with the graceful dolphins was truly something very special. Can't be described in words. When we got back to the dive center there was a light lunch and a tour around the scenic island, visiting the local cheese making, wineries and whale museum. We ended the evening at one of Pico's best restaurants. Based on my experiences with Pico, this time we got to experience everything you could imagine and then some. Pico has a special place in my heart and shark diving in the Azores is really good. I will be more than happy to return here.”

Do you also want to go shark diving in the Azores?, contact us at Scuba Travel

Text and photos with © approval from Scuba Travel ambassador Tomas Jansson

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