Audiovisual Works with Cetaceans

For film crews and professional photographers only

In the Azores, swimming with whales and other large cetaceans is strictly forbidden.
Therefore, it is not a commercial activity that can be booked, sold or purchased.


In the Autonomous Region of the Azores the possibility of entering the water with the whales is very strictly regulated and requires a special permit. Authorisation is provided by the local authorities and is only granted to audio-visual professionals and scientists.

Applications are best supported by an official whale watching operator such as CW Azores. Our support minimises the risk of having an application rejected, whilst maximising the chance of success in the water with the least inconvenience to the whales and everybody else.

We provide professional teams with the highest standard of logistical support. Moreover, with the outstanding experience of our head skipper Michael Costa, we can provide an unrivalled chance of realising the full potential of your project.

Sperm whale encounter - Photo by George Karbus
Sperm whale encounter - Photo by George Karbus


  • Administration
    For formal application of special permits. We provide all the papers that you must complete and take care of relations with the local authorities throughout the application process.
  • Vessels
    We operate 7.5m semi-rigid inflatable boats with state-of-the-art equipment for safety, navigation and finding whales including VHF, GPS, depth finder, directional hydrophones and, of course, experienced personnel.
  • Land-based lookouts
    A network of so called Vigias (land-based observers) maintain a constant vigil for cetaceans throughout the day. Using radio contact with our boat they accurately direct us to the whales up to 20nm offshore.
  • Briefings and debriefings
    Know what to expect and how to get the best out of your assignment thank to our scientific knowledge and experience on animal behaviour and best practices.
  • Weather updates
    We have access to accurate forecasts 24h/day.
  • Transfers to/from airport
  • Assistance throughout your stay
Sperm whale encounter - Photo by Jan Reyniers
Sperm whale encounter - Photo by Jan Reyniers


  • Only 3 permits may be granted by the authorities at any one time, which makes it imperative to submit your application well in advance (months or even a year in advance).
  • It may take 4-6 weeks to complete the process once your application is submitted.
  • In the aim of mitigating the pressure on Sperm whales during the peak of their calving season, no special permits are issue during the months of July and August.
  • Our quotations are based on the number of days you require.
  • We do not charge for boat trips cancelled due to adverse weather or sea conditions.
  • Boat trips usually last 6 hours but extra-time can be arranged if conditions suit.
Fin whale, dolphins and bait ball - Photo by Jan Reyniers
Fin whale, dolphins and bait ball - Photo by Jan Reyniers

Price List

Boat charters

(6 hours at sea)


(per unit)
Semirigid inflatable, 7.5 metres, 250Hp outboard engine


Semirigid inflatable, 10.5 metres, 2 x 250Hp outboard engines


Cabin boat (aluminium), 8.5 metres, 250Hp outboard engine


Extra hours
Can be agreed directly at sea with the skipper


All prices include professional crew, fuel, lookout support, use of dive centre.

  • Special licenses being few and valuable, we require a minimum commitment of at least 3 days at sea.
  • Transfers to/from the airport of either Pico (PIX) or Horta (HOR, on the nearby island of Faial) are included in price.
  • We do not charge for days that cannot be spent at sea due to adverse weather/sea conditions.
  • Good flexibility is required to film crews and photographers to maximise their chances of success. Leaving port at first light in the morning may sometimes be especially important to avoid whale watching vessels (which have priority over audiovisual boats).


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Common dolphins - Photo by George Karbus
Common dolphins - Photo by George Karbus
Live Updates

by CW Azores

  • Welcome to the CW Azores Live dashboard!
  • Here you will see real-time whale and dolphin 🐳🐬 sighting updates from our boats, along with other interesting insights 😉
  • Using environmental DNA (eDNA) to monitor biodiversity in the North-East Atlantic and Mediterranean. CW Azores is an official partner of the project. Learn more...