Azores island hopping vacation

Travel Team

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Azores island hopping vacation


Whale watching and swimming with dolphins are on many people’s wish lists and the Azores is internationally recognised as one of the best places to do this. However, it is essential that any enjoyment is respectful of the ocean environment and its rich marine life. We offer a half-day whale and dolphin watching trip and a half-day dolphin swimming as add-ons to this vacation. Both activities are overseen by highly experienced, local guides with a profound knowledge of the Atlantic setting. They instruct vacationmakers about responsible swimming and clients receive in-depth instructions on how to swim responsibly with the dolphins – observing, but not disturbing.

We are in full support of watching cetaceans in their natural environment. It has been well-documented in everything from journals of marine biology to the National Geographic magazine (a series of articles published in May and June 2015 examined current research on dolphin intelligence) that the confines of captivity can seriously harm the physical and mental health of dolphins – killer whales included in this category. Performance parks in particular can make dolphins dangerously dependent on human support and even lead to neurotic behaviour. In the wild, they are highly intelligent organisms with established social structures. It is this that vacationmakers should see: dolphins (and other cetaceans) as Nature intended. This will inspire them to regard these creatures as impressive wild animals, not theme-park attractions.

Of course, educating visitors about environments is not just limited to the ocean. On land, they will have several options whilst exploring Caldeira do Santo Cristo, heading on specially chosen non-disruptive paths to avoid potential damage. During their trip to Pico Island they will be shown the Criação Velha vineyards. These famous vineyards have such cultural importance that UNESCO has listed them as a World Heritage Site. They will spend time at a local wine producer of ‘Verdelho do Pico’, learning all about this traditional craft. They will also visit Sete Fontes Forest Park – an area that was once wasteland before work commenced in 1963 to reclaim the land. Today it is an area of lakes, playgrounds and picnic areas throughout the forest.

During the hike to Caldeira do Santo Cristo Lagoon the guides will explain the environmental benefits of the area now listed as a ‘Wetland of International Importance’ under the Ramsar Convention in 2005 and home to a unique kind of clam!


The Azores are a small island group and tourism is a mainstay of the Azores service sector and very much a pillar of their economy. It is well-established that mainland Portuguese destinations pull away significant numbers of tourists – Statistics Portugal (Instituto Nacional de Estatística) has found that the Algarve has almost 25% of total overnight stays, while the Azores, in comparison, hosts less than 2%. This three island tour therefore contributes by providing vacationmakers against the mainland pull.

During this vacation, the client’s time is divided between three of the small islands – Faial, São Jorge and Pico Island – spreading the economic benefits across the Azores. We proudly employ Azorean guides and instructors on this vacation, which ensures a local financial benefit. This applies to everyone from those overseeing our optional caldeira hikes on Faial Island to the biologists which assist with the whale and dolphin tours.

The hotels selected on each island have been chosen for their location close to local amenities enabling clients to utilise the local restaurants and varied shops – and providing valuable seasonal work for the local population and ensuring client money is spent locally.

Food is locally-sourced and visitors are encouraged to learn about and sample Azorean cuisine, which developed rather distinctly from that of Portugal. ‘Cozido das Furnas’ as an example, applies a geothermal cooking process to the traditional Portuguese ‘cozido’ stew. During their time on Faial, for example, clients are will visit local villages to purchase handicrafts and sample the traditional cooking.

1 Reviews of Azores island hopping vacation

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 28 Aug 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The tours around the island were all brilliant but the whalewatching was unbelievably wonderful; really emotional and very special. But all the activities and tours were excellent; the three partners you chose were each really good; they knew their stuff and were very empathetic and engaging.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Go!! The Azores were wonderful. Your choice of partners made it extra special - we appreciated being in our own family group and being looked after by
biologists and environmentalists - it definitely didn't feel like mass tourism. We didn't like the hotels much and I would recommend finding local
guesthouses instead.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes it benefited local people as our guides were all local; we definitely felt we were supporting conservation too. As we flew there and back we probably didn't
help with environmental impact unfortunately.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

The actual vacation was marvellous and we loved it - top marks. However the lead up was worryingly inefficient - the operators was very poor. Their flight
booking and hotel booking was rubbish (I had to send them screenshots proving availability of both flights and hotels when they claimed there was none),
Their prevacation info was also poor in comparison with other activity vacations I have taken. I would not book another vacation with you if this operator was

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Fiona,

Thank you for completing this really useful and comprehensive review. We completely agree that the Azores is a very special place for a vacation and this is one of our most popular trips. We work very hard with our local partners to create these itineraries and are very proud of them. We invest a lot of time and money in sending our staff out to the Azores so we can continue to design such unique itineraries.

One of the challenges we face when dealing with the Azores is the availability of the accommodation, you mention experiencing some of the difficulties we have faced during the booking process. As soon as you brought the contradicting availability to our attention we discussed this with the hotel and came back to you with their definitive comments stating that the website was not affiliated with them in anyway and was not a reflection of their availability. The particular tour you chose involves coordinating three independent hotels adding an additional layer of complexity. Our travel expert did his best to negotiate this for you as quickly as possible prior to asking you to confirm your booking, we apologise if you found this frustrating – we did too. It is something we are working very hard with the local teams to try and improve in the future.

Thank you for your suggestion of looking at some local guesthouses, a member of our product team is traveling out to the Azores in a few weeks to try and
source some alternative accommodation choices.

We have investigated your comments regarding flight availability, which again our travel expert worked hard to keep you informed during the booking process. We apologise if you feel that there were inefficiencies in this respect, but we have never received similar feedback before. Our sales manager has reviewed the procedure which was followed and has looked to make improvements where possible.

Whilst reviewing your booking, we were pleased to see our team were able to confirm your additional activities efficiently and answer any questions you had along the way prior to departure. A tailored vacation voucher is always provided to our guests around 7 days prior to departure with all details documented.

We have never had negative feedback regarding our pre-trip documentation for the Azores previously, but we are currently reviewing all booking documents and will look to make improvements where possible. I apologise you felt the packing list was lacking in information – we are working with our local partners to update the list for this particular tour, to ensure it is specific to the trip agenda.

We are a small, completely independent, family-owned company and always endeavour to deliver magical and memorable vacations. We take all client feedback very seriously and act upon it as soon as we can, as is the case with your comments.

We are very happy to hear you had a fantastic time in The Azores and found all the activities and tours excellent. We do hope that you will travel with us again in the future.

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