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Azores attracting more underwater tourists

Azores attracting more underwater tourists
31 Dec 2013

The number of people catching cheap flights to the Azores to dive and snorkel is growing by the day. 

Visit Azores reports that operators offering underwater excursions to visitors have seen their business increase by as much as 200% in the past year. 

Despite their natural beauty and warm climate, the Azores - a chain of nine volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean some 850 miles west of Portugal - are much less well-known than other islands in the region such as the Canaries and Madeira, which attract the bulk of British holidaymakers. 

However, these latest statistics suggests that the Azores are starting to register on people's travel radars. Certainly, if you love marine wildlife, there are few better places to book a holiday - here's why:

Whale watching

With their isolated position in the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores are in a prime location for whale watching, with no fewer than 25 migratory species passing by each year. These include blue whales - the planet's biggest - and sperm whales - the largest toothed predator. 

The best time for seeing blue whales is in April, so start planning your trip now if you want to catch them in 2014.

Swimming with dolphins

Everyone has a soft spot for dolphins, and most would jump at the chance to swim with these enchanting creatures. The Azores is the only destination in Europe where holidaymakers can swim with wild dolphin species such as the spotted, striped and bottlenose dolphin in their natural habitat.

Diving

For those keen to see what's happening under the surface, the waters surrounding the islands are teeming with life. Come face to face with manta rays, moray eels, stingrays, dusky groupers, comb groupers, wrasses, parrot fish, trigger fish, breams and damselfish on a scuba trip. 

Spring and summer are the best times for venturing beneath the waves at one of the islands' numerous wreck or natural dive sites. ADNFCR-408-ID-801677343-ADNFCR

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