The Azores is world-famous for its dramatic volcanic landscapes – brimming with hot springs, crater lakes and geysers – its beautiful culture, its delicious cuisine and, of course, for the amazing array of animals that make the islands their home. The Azorean wildlife is varied, with a wide array of species that range from birds to mammals.
Interestingly, because the Azores is one of the most remote archipelagos in Europe, it was completely devoid of mammals before the discovery of the islands in the early 15th century; the exception was marine mammals, such as dolphins, and two species of bat. This means that most of the mammals you can see when you visit have been introduced to the area.
Pousadas of Portugal offers the perfect base for you to explore the wonderful Azores and all of its stunning fauna.
Whales and Dolphins
Hugely popular as a tourist activity, whale and dolphin spotting is unmissable when you visit the archipelago. This experience will be one to remember forever; you’ll go out in a boat on the open ocean and have the chance to see dolphins surging through the waters and even, sometimes, leaping out of it. They may also swim side by side with your boat! Some of the most common dolphin species in the area are the Bottlenose and the Striped.
When it comes to whales, you may be lucky enough to spot the False Killer whale, Pilot whales and Sperm whales, which we’re confident you’ll love. Recently, 28 species of cetacean can be found in the area, providing you with ample opportunity to see, at least, one. You can take several boat trips out of Faial, Graciosa and Pico which will also allow you to spot several seabirds along the way.
The best time to go out into the deep waters in search of these gorgeous animals is from mid-April to mid-October, so don’t miss out on this incredible experience. Of course, should you visit outside of these months, you still have the chance of spotting these stunning animals, as they reside in the area all year round.
The Azores Noctule, which is the only diurnal insectivorous bat, is endemic to the dry forests of the Azores. It can be found on most of the islands in the archipelago and roosts in buildings, caves and hollowed-out trees. One of the theories surrounding the fact that this species of bat forages during the day due to the low number of avian predators in the islands. You will also be able to see the European Hedgehog and the Least Weasel, as well as many other mammals.
Besides being a prime location to spot whales and dolphins, the Azores is also a great place to see a fantastic array of birds. The açor (or northern goshawk), after which the archipelago is named, is so famous there that it appears on its flag; this medium-large raptor belongs to the same family as eagles and buzzards. You may also see the endemic Azores Bullfinch, which can only be found on the island of São Miguel. Birds you may be able to spot in the area include Bulwer’s Petrels, Cory’s Shearwaters, Grey Wagtails, Blackbirds and Chaffinches.
Admire the beautiful scenery and breathe in the fresh air as you walk through nature among these and other species of bird. Exploring the islands is an adventure since there is always so much to see and do, so why not try to spot as many birds as you can? After all, approximately 400 species have been reported around the archipelago.
Reptiles and Fish
Many species of fish and reptile make the Azores their home as well so, if you’re keen on spotting these interesting animals, don’t miss out on the opportunity during your visit. Who knows, you may even see Loggerhead Turtles (which can grow to over a metre in length and weigh up to a tonne), Leatherback Turtles, Hammerhead Sharks and flying fish, all of which have been spotting in the area. From Swordfish and Blue Marlin to Yellowfin Tuna and Devil Rays, the Azores are a treasure trove for those who are passionate about wildlife. And who can forget about the famous Portuguese Man o’ War? This stunning zooid will be an incredible sight, so keep an eye out for these jellyfish-like creatures – make sure to stay away from them, however, as they’re incredibly venomous!
Discover everything the Azores have to offer when you stay with Pousadas of Portugal, including the remarkable wildlife that delights both Azoreans and visitors alike. Talk to us if you wish to learn more about our beautiful Pousadas.