Full detail

Based in Vila Franca, the historical capital of São Miguel, with its small harbour and cobbled streets, you will stay at the wonderful Convento São Francisco just 10 minutes walk from the seafront. We have included 4 x 3 hour whale and dolphin watching trips as well as an island tour, an afternoon with a marine biologist who will tell you about their current research on Azorean cetaceans and a talk about the history of whaling in the Azores.

Don’t forget, if you would like more or less trips to see the whales, just let us know. 


The whole crew were so friendly. All spoke english very well so we could always ask questions about anything and we learned so much. The whales were amazing - something different everyday. Nature at its best -  just breathtaking. Thank you so much, we have memories that will stay with us always.

Mr & Mrs Daynes, Guildford

We have never been made to feel so welcome on holiday. The whale watching staff were superb and Arianna was a brilliant guide. We have never had such personal attention, nothing was too much trouble.

Mrs Carey, Maidenhead

The experience of a lifetime ! Our excursion was with Terra Azul who are a truly fabulous company. The guides were so passionate about everything and really wanted to help everyone enjoy their day. They always followed the Azores Cetacean code of conduct (even when some other companies we could see did not). We were also impressed by the way they collected litter from the sea !

Mr & Mrs Johnson, York

The boat trips were amazing and the staff were so helpful. We even went swimming with dolphins which was a fantastic experience. We are now completely in love with the Azores.

Miss Thair, Brighton

Tour of the island : We felt like VIPs - Antonio was very knowledgeable and interesting.
Whale and dolphin watching trips : These were excellent. Staff were knowledgeable, friendly - first class.
Whaling history and research sessions : Both talks gave a further insight into the whales and dolphins.
The whole holiday more than exceeded our expections!

Mrs Bertram, Dumfries

The staff were delightful and could not do enough for me. I would recommend all the activities to others including the full day tour and the session with the marine biologist. Miguel dealt with the history of whaling and is obviously passionate about his projects including the whaling boat and was kind and considerate.

Mrs Gude, Hertfordshire

A huge thank you to all at Archipelago Choice for making this such a special holiday. My son says that he does not know a word to describe it, Wow and Amazing are the closest he can get!

Mrs Laurie, Reading

Thanks for a fantastic holiday from start to end. he island was beautiful, the Hotel Caloura was so relaxing and in such a fantastic location, staff were very helpful and pleasant. We ate out a lot and 3 whale spotting trips for us, although we saw lots of dolphins and turtle there was a distinct lack of whales!
So on our last day we booked another trip out and we saw 11!! 2 young juvenile Sperm Whale and then we encountered a pod of 9 females with young, one was around 150ft long. I must admit I shed a tear. The tour guides were all amazing what a lovely company.
Just wanted to say a big thank you for making a lifetime wish come true.

Mrs Wright, Kent


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Activities included


Day 1  Fly London to São Miguel. Transfer to your accommodation in Vila Franca (30 mins). Overnight at the Convento Sao Francisco
Day 2 Briefing and introduction to whale and dolphin watching. Afternoon - half day whale watching. Overnight at the Convento Sao Francisco
Day 3 Morning - Half day whale and dolphin watching. Overnight at the Convento Sao Francisco
Day 4 Full day island tour of São Miguel, visiting the vigias (lookouts) and other places on the island which have a unique connection with whales as well as other scenic highlights (includes lunch). Overnight at the Convento Sao Francisco
Day 5 Morning - half day whale and dolphin watching. Afternoon – some time will be spent with the resident marine biologist looking at his/her current research and with a whaling history enthusiast talking about the Azores whaling history. Overnight at the Convento Sao Francisco
Day 6 Free day. Overnight at the Convento Sao Francisco
Day 7 Morning - Half day whale and dolphin watching. Overnight at the Convento Sao Francisco
Day 8 Transfer to airport. Fly São Miguel to London

Prices & Dates


Month Price Notes
Jan£0Does not operate
Feb£0Does not operate
Mar£0Does not operate
Apr£1122Based on direct flight from Gatwick
May£1122Based on direct flight from Gatwick
Jun£1122Based on direct flight from Gatwick
Jul£1142Based on direct flight from Gatwick
Aug£1142Based on direct flight from Gatwick
Sep£1122Based on direct flight from Gatwick
Oct£1122Based on direct flight from Gatwick
Nov£0Does not operate
Dec£0Does not operate

Price Info

Prices are per person on B&B sharing basis and include airport transfers, 4 x 3 hour whale and dolphin watching trips and 1 x full day island tour (lunch included), afternoon with marine biologist and Azorean whaling history expert, flights and airport taxes (guide price only), pre-departure information booklet. Prices do not include meals (other than breakfast and 1 lunch), excursions on free days, travel insurance.

Useful Information

What to take:
Waterproof, plastic bag for your camera, sun block etc, polarising filter(suggested)

Minimum age:
4 years

7 nights

Convento São Francisco (Vila Franca)

Boat type:
Rigid Hull Inflatable (RIB - 12 seater)
On RIBs you usually sit astride a seat which runs down the middle of the boat (your bottom on the seat and feet on the deck)

Commonly seen Whales: Sperm and Pilot whales
Commonly seen Dolphins: Bottlenose, Common, Spotted, Risso’s and Striped dolphins
Occasionally seen Whales: Blue, Fin, Sei, Minke, Beaked (Cuvier’s, Sowerby’s, True’s and Bottlenose), Humpback, Pygmy Sperm, Orca and False killer whales
Occasionally seen Dolphins: Rough Toothed dolphin 

Whale watching regulations
The main regulations for whalewatching in the Azores are:

  • Cetaceans should not be chased
  • Boats should not exceed the animal’s speed by more than 2 knots and should keep at a constant speed
  • Boats must move in parallel behind each other and at 60 degrees to the rear of the cetaceans
  • Boats should avoid sudden changes of direction when approaching an animal
  • Boats should maintain a parallel course slightly to the rear of the animals, maintaining an open field of 180 degrees in front of the animals
  • Avoid making any noises which may disturb or attract the animals
  • Boats should not approach any cetacean closer than 50m
  • Boats should not drive through a group of animals separating them, especially isolating the calves from the adults
  • No more than 3 boats may approach dolphins closer than 300m at one time and whales closer than 500m
  • Observation should not exceed 30 minutes equally divided between all vessels
  • Sailing boats may only approach under engine power
  • The use of sonar is not allowed, even outside the observation area
  • Do not feed the whales or dolphins
  • Do not throw litter or other waste in the water

Swimming with the whales is not allowed

All year

Getting to the Azores: 

From the UK:  Direct flights - Saturdays (Gatwick) April to October.  Also, daily scheduled services via Lisbon

From Mainland Europe : There are weekly direct flights from Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen.  Also, daily scheduled services via Lisbon from most European cities

From the USA and Canada : There are twice weekly direct flights both Boston and Toronto.  Also, daily scheduled services via Lisbon

Ask us

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I would like to book Whale and dolphin watching experience (São Miguel)

Many thanks for booking this experience with Archipelago Choice. We’re on hand from Monday to Friday (0830 to 1730) and can be contacted on 00 44 (0) 17687 75672 should you need additional assistance.

Please fill in the form below to outline your holiday plans and let us know if you have any ‘special requests’. All bookings are on a request basis and we will contact you within 24hrs (48hrs at weekends) to take payment and collect additional pre-travel information (address and passport details etc.). We will contact you to confirm travel details before making any reservations. Please note that completing the form does NOT result in immediate confirmation of your holiday.