By: João Pedro Barreiros, 52, PhD in Biology and Animal Ecology
Terceira is full of delights and mysteries associated with the sea. The lay of the land and its geographic location create perfect conditions for a wonderful boat trip and the observation of the magnificent marine life.
From the top of Monte Brasil, the imposing volcano that cradles the town of Angra do Heroísmo, various young observers watch out for the large whales and sperm whales, various species of dolphin, as well as the rare beaked whales that cross the Azorean seas. They inform vessels of the location of these cetaceans so that everyone on board can observe and appreciate these amazing animals. Terceira Island is considered to have the highest success rates in whale and dolphin watching.
Sea and land unite to form bathing zones, characterised by the black volcanic rock. On the south coast, Porto Martins, the Gruta das Agulhas and Cinco Ribeiras and, on the north coast, Vila Nova, Quatro Ribeiras and Biscoitos offer incredible natural landscapes and unique experiences to lovers of the sea, beaches and nautical activities.
For diving enthusiasts, the Cinco Ribeiras cavern, a magnificent underwater lava tube, rich in marine life, which is part of Terceira’s Natural Park, is one of the most impressive spots on the island. It is easily accessible and is quite shallow, and so is suited to diving and observing a wealth of marine life. The Underwater Archaeological Park in the bay of Angra do Heroísmo also teems with marine life. It is a true underwater museum, the only one of its kind in Portugal, and was once the stage for more than fifty shipwrecks. The 16th century Cemitério das Âncoras [Anchor Cemetery], and the wreck of the steamship Lidador, which sank in 1878, are just a few of the fantastic attractions offered by a dive of up to 10 meters in depth.
The mythical Cabras Islets form a unique maritime setting, perfect for trips by boat, paddleboat, or kayak for the more daring. It is possible to dive off these small islets into the crystal clear water, as well as to explore their rich biodiversity, including rare seabirds. The spot also has a cave which, especially during the summer months, is home to breeding populations of the common eagle ray, Myliobatis Aquila, which can often be seen out of water.
Terceira Island has ideal conditions for those who love the sea and adventure!
Recommended time: 3 days or more
Level of difficulty: low
Clothing: Don’t be deceived by cloudy days. Always pack sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. Swimwear is also a must.
Season: The activities can be done at practically any time of the year, but it is important to pay attention to the weather and sea conditions.
Booking: If you plan in advance, through a travel agent or recreational tourism company, it is possible to organize complementary activities, such as trips around the island which include the best bathing spots, or even a lunch or light meal with a maritime theme and a wide variety of fish and seafood.
Terceira Island Dive Spots