Indisputably the best dive of the Azores is The Princess Alice Bank (Banco Princesa Alice), a great, but also difficult dive where stunning sea life can be viewed such as Manta Rays, Devil Rays, Marlin and (Galapagos) sharks.
Another famous dive spot is Condor Bank. This off-shore protected area provides a unique experience, especially for European standards, of diving with manta rays, sharks, dolphins and (sometimes) sperm whales. It is also a popular visiting place for two of the finest ocean sharks: the shortfin Mako Shark and the Blue Shark.
The top list of 5-star dive spots of the Azores is as following:
- Princesa Alice, large marine life – Faial or Pico (Experienced Divers only)
- Gruta dos Camaroes, one of the best cave dives in the Azores, Faial (cave certification needed)
- The Cinco Ribeiras (Cave / wall) – Terceira
- The Caneiro dos Meros (Dusky Grouper Passageway), large groupers – Corvo (Experienced Divers only)
- Banco D. João de Castro, underwater volcano/thermal springs – Terceira and São Miguel (Experienced Divers only)
- Baixa do Ambrósio (Ambrósio Reef), huge groups of devil rays – Santa Maria
- Banco Dollabarat (Dollabarat Reef) – Santa Maria and São Miguel
- Baixa dos Lourenços (Lourenços Reef), one of the best dives for pelagic fish incl. yellowmouth barracudas, Almaco jacks, white trevallies and devil rays (Mobula) during the summer months – São Miguel (Experienced Divers only)
- Ilhéus das Formigas (Formigas Islets), several divespots, the Olympia wreck and many species of marine life. This site is often combined with Dollabarat Reef – Santa Maria and São Miguel (Experienced Divers only)
- Dori shipwreck, São Miguel
Based on diving opportunities alone, you can conclude from the above list that Santa Maria and São Miguel are the best diving locations (but you’ll miss out on Princess Alice). However, your diving experience should be taken into account.