Diving Portugal: Azores, Madeira, Algarve...

25 October 2022
As well as the diving around mainland Portugal, there is splendid diving in the Azores and Madeira archipelagos which sit way out in the Atlantic.

Portugal itself has diving all around its coastline, from the Algarve in the south to Porto in the North. The best diving is generally considered to be in the Algarve. In Porto there are two wrecks of note, the U-boat U1277 and the Tiber. The sea off the Portuguese mainland coast is an important pathway for loggerhead and leatherback turtles.1

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Portugal Dive Sites

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Algave Azores Lisbon Madeira Porto

Diving the Azores

The Azores is an archipelago of volcanic peaks in the Atlantic, around 1500 km west of Lisbon, with great diving. The best time to go is from April to October. The big pelagics - beaked whales, sperm whales, fin whales, humpbacks, false killer whales, dolphins, turtles and so on are most common between May and October. Average water temperature ranges from around 23 C in summer to 16 oC in the winter.

Video courtesy Liquid Art

20-46 m
Ambrósio, Santa Maria, Azores

A marine reserve 3 miles from the island of Santa Maria.

Reviews: 5 Star Rating: Recommended 5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"Situated near the coast, but only accessible by boat, this spot has a depth of 46 mtrs. At the bottom you can see lots of sunfish and big vadigo fish. Around 20 mtrs depth usually there's a concentration of up to 30 manta rays. "
Fernando Cardos, 16 October 2012

Manta Ray
Photo credit: Arturo de Frias Marques, CC BY-SA 4.0

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20 m
Dollabarat, Azores

Dollabarat Reef is 5 km south-southeast of the Formigas Islets on the Formigas Bank. The name comes from a ships captain who unfortunately discovered the reef when his boat was wrecked on it. The Formigas islets lie between the islands of Soo Miguel and Santa Maria.

Felimare picta azorica nudibranch
Felimare picta azorica nudibranch. This subspecies is only found in the Azores. Photo credit: Tim Nicholson. More Azores underwater photos.


5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"Plateau up to 20 mtrs depth in the middle of the ocean with a huge variety of big fish, such as manta ray, athantic goliath grouper, etc... "
Fernando Cardoso, 25 September 2012

Santa Maria Island, Azores


5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"Azores islands and Santa Maria Island in particular is one of the best and amazing scuba spots!"
Jose Julio Macedo

Princess Alice Bank, Azores

Princess Alice Bank is a seamount 83 km southwest of the island of Faial. A good place to see mobula (devil) rays and even, sometimes, hammerhead sharks. A deep dive - it starts at 35 m.

Mobulas on Princess Alice Bank
Mobulas on Princess Alice Bank. Photo credit: Tim Nicholson


5 Star Rating: Recommended (2)

"96 km SW of Pico, Azores in the Mid-Atlantic, the largest seamount on the mid-atlantic ridge forming a cleaning station for the devil ray with up to 30 not being uncommon. "
Gary Fell

"The Azores archipelago is definitely the best spot in Europe for diving with the big stuff. The Princess Alice bank is situated 90km from Faial island, and it takes about 3 hours to get there by RIB. Descending to 35m you'll reach the peek of the underwater mountain where you'll encounter large triggerfish and perhaps some wrasses. Above you, at 2-10m depth, a large school of about 20 2.5m-wide devil rays, which you'll encounter more closely while ascending. In between the dives you'll get to snorkel with the rays, as well as spot some other large fish like wahoos. Got the chance to snorkel with dolphins on our way back to land! "
Boyan Slat, Netherlands, 22 April 2013

Condor Bank, Azores

This seamount is protected. You have a very good chance of seeing big stuff here: blue sharks, shortfin mako sharks, marlin and tuna.


5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"Best shark diving destination in Europe. An hour of diving at 5m belong the boat (deep water), surrounded by 8 large Blue sharks. If you're lucky you'll also encounter a Mako shark. A dive not to miss. "
Boyan Slat, 2 April 2013

Faial Island, Azores


5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"Much underwater life: whales, dolphins, sharks....Atlantic jewels "
Jonesdias, Portugal

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Bay of Sosa, Azores


5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

""Blue, Blue electric Blue!! Mid ocean blue water dive with Blue Sharks!! The wait while chumming was worth the experience to be in the water with such amazing and beautiful Sharks!! "
Stephen Barlow, 2021

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Diving the Algarve

The Algarve on the south coast of Portugal is where the Atlantic and Mediterranean meet. Hence it has a diverse mix of sea life.

20-46 m
Baixas de Armacao, Armação de Pêra, Algarve

Reviews: 4 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"On a wall at 18 metres, lots of life, swim thrus "

41 m
Feiramar, Armação de Pêra, Algarve


5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"Deep wreck at 41 metres. love this site "

12-30 m
Artificial Reefs, Armação de Pêra, Algarve

Reviews: 4 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"Great dives depth ranges from 12m - 30m depending on levels and experience "

33 m
Oliveira e Carmo Wreck, Portimao, Algarve

Sunk in 2012 she is 85 m in length and lies at N 37o05'816'' and W 8o35'114''.

18-28 m
Titan Wreck, Tavira, Algarve

This is the wreck of a barge which sank when laying large stone blocks to form an artificial reef in 2002. Near the barge are the crane it was using and some of the blocks. 30 m long and 18 m wide, she lies at N 37o05'899'' and W 7o31'321'' on a sandy bottom.

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Diving Lisbon

26-32 m
Pedra da Lagoa, Fonte da Telha

"A rock at 26 to 32 m deep full of colourful Gorgonia & Sponges holding incredible amount of very rich and diverse marine life. Is very common to find schools of White Seabass (Atractoscion nobilis, Argyrosomus hololepidotus), octopus, squids, sardines, Sunfish (Mola Mola), Congers, Crab, Lobster, etc. "
Pedro Carvalho, Cabana Divers

33-36 m
Pedra da Âncora, Fonte da Telha

"33 to 36m - A rock formation where big Congers can be found together with schools of coastal fish. "
Pedro Carvalho, Cabana Divers

33-36 m
Maria Eduarda, Fonte da Telha

"33 to 36 m. A small cargo boat sunk several miles from the coast that holds an incredible variety of life due to the protection provided by the wreck on an sandy area. For experienced divers, good sea conditions required. "
Pedro Carvalho, Cabana Divers

20-33 m
River Gurara Wreck, Sesimbra

A Nigerian cargo ship which sank in 1989. Built in 1980, she was on her way from the Ivory Coast to the UK carrying timber, cocoa and other goods when her engines failed and she was pushed onto the rocks. She is 90 m long and broken into two parts.

Diving Porto

U Boat 1277, Porto

Lying at 30 meters at latitude 41.09, longitude -8.41. U Boat 1277 was scuttled by her crew in 1945.


5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"WWII German submarine at 30 m. 67 m vessel. "
Artur Lagoá, Adng Diving

33 m
IX Century Steamer, Tiber, Porto

"Cannons, funnels and several other historical pieces remain at a max depth of 33 m. This is an easy going wreck dive: its parts were spread in a tight circle when fishing trawlers got entangled in the wreck. No danger of entanglement, great for those who have just started wreck diving. Everything is close by within a certain radius. "
Artur Lagoá, Adng Diving

75 m
Kassamba, Porto

"For experienced tech divers: trimix only. This large freighter was sunk in the 80's. 136m in length, its cargo of containers with cloth and wine still remain. The ship is intact with its stern at 75 m. A Dive for a few, but worth while. "
Artur Lagoá, Adng Diving

30 m
Donkey’s tail wall

Also known as Parede Rabo de Asno. In the Berlengas Archipelago 6 miles west of Peniche, mainland Portugal. A wall covered in red gorgonions with the Donkey's Tail cave. Currents bring in pelagics. You can even sometimes spot Mola Mola (sunfish). The entrance to the cave is at 30 m and lets you dive from one side to the other of the reef.

5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

Diving Madeira

Four hundred kilometres north of Tenerife, to the west of Morocco, lies the archipelago of Madeira. It includes the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo which offer excellent diving. It is also a good place for whale watching with sperm and pilot whales year-long. There are several marine reserves including Garajau, created in 1986 on the southern coast of Madeira island near the town of Funchal.

Pilot Whale
Pilot Whale

Madeira has a benign climate with mild winters and long summers. You can dive year-round here. The dryest time of year is between April and September. Water temperatures are highest between July and November - reaching 24oC. In March they can get as low as 16oC.

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Madeirense shipwreck, Porto Santo Island

A 70 m long wreck patrolled by giant grouper. Built in 1962 this cargo ship was scuttled in 2000 to create an artificial reef. In 2008 the area was designated a marine park. The wreck lies between 26 and 32 m. You need to be at least PADI Advanced or equivalent.


5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"It's a clear water dive, Atlantic ocean Portuguese Coast near Porto Santo Island. The ship lays at 25 m top 32 m bottom. It's a sealife-fool shipwreck, sunken for a dive spot. You can find groupers, Pargos, manta rays, meros, and other variety of small fish. Promoters - Rheadive.
André Ladeira

"Artificial shipwreck sunk in 2000, with 70 m long, full of fish, including very friendly groupers.
Carlos Ricardo, Porto Santo Sub, October 2012

Barracuda Reef, Porto Santo Island

"Walls, canyon, from 20 to 30m, visibility around 30 m."
Carlos Ricardo, Porto Santo Sub, October 2012

Tuna Reef, Porto Santo Island

"Deep reef from 35 to 56m, lots of fish, groupers...black coral"
Carlos Ricardo, Porto Santo Sub, October 2012

Garajau, Madeira Island


5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"Natural Reserve, full of sea life, occasionally you can trip on a seawolf, dolphins even Canejas(shark), you can touch the meros (groupers )located in the Atlantic ocean, rock/canyon/cave bottom 25 m deep maximum.
André Ladeira

Arco da Badajeira , Madeira Island

"Underwater mountain situated 100 m offshore. Large groupers, barracudas and the rich biodiversity makes of this dive spot, one of the best of the island.
Marco, Azul Diving Center Madeira, February 2016

Moray Eel Reef, Madeira Island

Dived by Explora Madeira Diving Center


5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)

"Volcanic rocks with walls and canyons plenty of moray eels everywhere of different species. Usually close to every moray there is a cleaner shrimp. Specially from spring to autumn it's possible to see huge sting rays."
Roberto, Italy, 3 January 2018

Blenny taken in Madeira by Tim Nicholson
Blenny in Madeira by Tim Nicholson

Portugal Diving Operators

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Algarve Lisbon Porto Madeira Azores

Azores Dive Operators

The Azores comprises nine volcanic islands in the middle of the North Atlantic.


Narobla ProWin ProNature Explorer is a luxury motor yacht visiting the most amazing destinations of the central archipelago of the Azores. Caters to a small group of just 8 divers. Each evening this liveaboard's passengers dine in one of the local restaurants. Diving includes dives at Pedra do Sousa, the area of the blue sharks as well as Princess Alice Bank famous for mobula rays.

Azores liveaboard - Narobla

Azores > Sao Miguel Island
Best Spot Azures Dive Center

Donates 2% of annual profit to environmental education project called Jelly Fish Project. Speak English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. Will collect you from nearby hotels and the airport.

Marina of Ponta Delgada, kiosk B
Sao Miguel Island
(just 5 min walk from Ponta Delgada city center, 10 min car drive from the airport)

Azores > Sao Miguel Island
Espirito Azul Dive Center

Courses from PADI, SSI, SDI/TDI, FPAS, CMAS and DAN available. Diving center is opened all year round, and offers regular offshore dives

Marina de Vila Franca do Campo
Vila Franca do Campo
Sao Miguel

Azores > Faial Island
Haliotis Faial

The biggest PADI dive center in Faial Island.

Rua Consul Dabney Faial Resort Hotel
9901-856 Horta Faial

Azores > Santa Maria Island
Haliotis Santa Maria

ADI 5 Star IDC and PADI TecRec center

Rua Cruz Teixeira Hotel Colombo
9580-473 Vila do Porto
Santa Maria

Algarve Dive Operators

With around 150 km of Atlantic coastline, the Algarve - which covers the south coast of Portugal - offers plenty of opportunity for diving.

Algarve > Lagoa
Algarve Dive Experience

Diving includes the house beach and reef

Hotel Tivoli Carvoeiro
Vale Covo
Apartado 1299
Praia do Carvoeiro
8400-526 Lagoa
Tel: +351 282 098 635
E-mail: info@algarve-scuba-diving.com.

Algarve > Lagoa
Diver's Cove

Dive centre is located in front of the reception of the Quinta do Paraíso hotel.

Quinta do Paraíso
Praia do Carvoeiro
8400-558 Lagoa - Algarve
Tel: +351 282 356 594
E-mail: diverscoveportugal@gmail.com.

Algarve > Albufeira
Indigo Divers

Indigo Divers
Rua do Mercado
Lote M Loja A
Areias de São João
8200-269 Albufeira
Tel: +351 289 587 013
E-mail: info@indigo-divers.pt.

Algarve > Tavira
UDiving Albacora

Based in Hotel Vila Galé Albacora, leave daily from the hotel's private pier to explore dive sites in the eastern Algarve.

Hotel Vila Galé
Albacora Quatro Águas
8800-901 Tavira
Tel: +351 963 411 113

Lisbon Dive Operators

Portugal Dive

Dive around Lisbon, Algarve, Azores and Madeira.

Av. Estados Unidos da América, 2 - P.3 - 2.o A
1700-174 Lisboa
Tel: +351 915616157

Cabana Divers

Open all year.

Fonte da Telha
Costa de Caparica beach
25 km south of Lisbon
Tel: +351 212 977 711
E-mail: geral@cabanadivers.com

Escola de Mergulho de Lisboa

Rua S.Filipe de Neri 39B
Largo do Rato
Tel: +351 21 388 52 95
E-mail: eml@eml.pt

Haliotis Dive Portugal

Porto de Abrigo de Sesimbra
2970 Sesimbra
35 km from Lisbon
Tel. +351 910 586 132
Fax. +351 262 781 163
e-mail: info@haliotis.pt

Haliotis Peniche
Av. Monsenhor Manuel Bastos
Hotel Praia Norte
2520-206 Peniche

Porto Dive Operators

Adng Diving

Adng Diving
Tel: +351 22 510 54-93
Mobile: +351 91 660 80 10
E-mail: info[@]adngdiving.com.

Madeira and Porto Santo Dive Operators

Madeira and Porto Santo are two islands in the Madeira archipelago.

Porto Santo
Porto Santo Sub

Clube Naval do Porto Santo
9400-080 Porto Santo
Tel: +351 916 033 997
E-mail: geral@portosantosub.com

Porto Santo

9400-909 Porto Santo
Tel: +351 936 268 479
E-mail: geral@rheadive.com.

Hotel Quinta de Penha de França Mar
Rua Carvalho Araújo
9000-022 Funchal
See prices and book diving…

5 Star Rating: Recommended (1)


"Friendly but professional."
Roberto, Italy, 3 January 2018

Anthia Diving Center
Caminho de São Roque
9200-073 Machico
Tel: +351 291 969 500 Ext: 3935
E-mail: anthia.madeira@gmail.com.

Azul Diving Center is located in the heart of Ponta de Sao Lourenco Marine park. It is a pretty new diving area recently discovered. Visibility in the summer can reach 50 m and you have good chance to encounter the elusive monk seal.

Azul Diving Center
Quinta do Lorde Marina Resort
9200-044 Canical
Tel: +351.914 25 65 75
E-mail: info@azuldiving.com
See prices and book diving…


1 Lídia Nicolau et al (2016). Sea turtle strandings along the Portuguese mainland coast: spatio-temporal occurrence and main threats Marine Biology 163:21.


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