A once in a lifetime experience that you deserve!

Common Dolphins - Photo by George Karbus
Common Dolphins, photo by George Karbus

SWIM WITH WILD DOLPHINS

Without doubt watching cetaceans in their natural environment is an unforgettable experience. However, here in the Pico, it is possible to enrich that experience with an even more exciting one - swimming with the dolphins.

For some people the experience is something mystical, for others it is like returning to our origins, for everybody it is a lifetime experience!

Our trips to swim with the dolphins last 3-4 hours and allow each swimmer to enter the water at least 2-3 times. Sometimes it is possible to swim with more than one species at the same time.

To get the most out of the experience, some confidence with fins, mask and snorkel is necessary. However, do not worry if you do not feel comfortable with this as we can provide short courses in confined water.

Dolphin Experience Video

Common Dolphins - Photo by George Karbus
Common Dolphins, photo by George Karbus

THE SPECIES YOU CAN SWIM WITH

In the Azores, swimming with the dolphins is allowed with 5 different species, all belonging to the to the family Delphinidae (explore our Taxonomy Browser to learn more).

  • Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)
    The biggest dolphins you can swim with in the Azores, where they are bigger than in most other areas. It is the most targeted species by ocenaria, so that it will be even more rewarding to see them living free and happy.
  • Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis)
    Despite their name, only the adults are spotted. They reach our waters with the newborn in late June and stay till the end of the season.
  • Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)
    They are unmistakable, due to their hourglass color pattern on the flanks, whose anterior part is yellow. We sometimes see in large groups of many hundreds.
  • Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus)
    Almost as big as the Bottlenose dolphin, the Risso's dolphin has a round snout which makes identification easy. Adults are covered with white scars that accumulate over time, so that the oldest individuals appear to be almost completely white.
  • Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba)
    Similar in size to the Common dolphin, Striped dolphins in the Azores are usually quite shy, unless associated with other species. Their tendency to porpoise at very high speeds makes them a better subject for photography than for swimming!
Happiness!

HOW IT WORKS

PREPARATION ON LAND
  1. Briefing
    - Introduction to dolphin behaviour and biology
    - Safety on board and in the water
  2. Gearing up
    There are a few pieces of gear you need for swimming with the dolphins. Do not worry if you miss anything as we will give you all you need at no extra cost:
    • Mask and snorkel
    • Short wetsuit (full wetsuit in winter and spring)
    • Fins
    • Waterproof poncho
BOAT TRIP

The dock is just a 30-second walk from our centre! We will be heading to the area where the dolphins were spotted by our look-out on land. Once with them, the crew will evaluate the opportunity of swimming with that particular group. Should the group turn out not to be suitable (e.g. showing boat avoidance) we will find another one. If the dolphins are OK, we will swim with them 2 people at a time.
There are a few golden rules, designed to give you and the dolphins the best shared experience:

  1. Do not enter the water before given the OK by the crew.
  2. After donning fins, mask and snorkel enter the water noiselessly without a splash - enter feet first holding your mask against your face and your snorkel in your mouth.
  3. Swim slowly and avoid making splashes.
  4. When in the water, look down - the dolphins often swim right underneath you or approach from behind.
  5. Listen underwater - often you can hear the dolphin's squeaks and whistles.
  6. Do not chase or try to touch the dolphins.
  7. Remember your limitations.
  8. Carefully follow the crews advice.

Why Choose Us?

We employ talented, passionate people, which are also very friendly and genuinely strive to make our guests happy and fully satisfied.

Our centre is very well equipped, spacious and just 20 metres away from the boarding peer.
Care and maintenance of our boats is nothing short of state-of-the-art.

We actively contribute to scientific research, along with hosting University students as trainees or while they carry out the field work needed to complete their degrees.

To smoothen any access barrier due to wealth situation, students at CW Azores are never charged for their internships. Moreover, accommodation and food expenses are always covered by the company.

All of our employees are contracted and paid fairly. They are all insured in full compliance with the Portuguese Law.

While this sounds obvious and not worth a mention, please understand that failure to comply to the above has lead and is still leading sometimes to unfair treatment of the employees and unfair competition towards the companies that correctly pay their tax and contributions to social security.

Striped dolphins - photo by George Karbus

MEET THE DOLPHINS IN THEIR ENVIRONMENT

Our swim with dolphin tours aim to offer a truly natural experience.

Dolphins are neither attracted with tricks nor they are fed. They can swim much faster than humans; therefore, decisions such as 'how close we get' and 'how long for' are entirely up to them.

That said, they do come close to the swimmers because they are curious animals, and the success rate of our swim with dolphins trips is greater than 97% - just as successful as our Whale Watching tours.

Swimming with wild dolphins is very different to swimming with captive ones, the latter being confined and rewarded with food whenever they complete the tasks given by the trainers.

The "tank" where we meet the dolphins in Pico was not built by humans and is called Atlantic Ocean.