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São Miguel

Known as the Green Island, this is the biggest island of the Azores. It is about 54 miles away from its nearest neighbour, the island of Santa Maria, and about two times that distance from the closest island of the central group, Terceira.

Given its size, this island offers a huge variety of places to visit on land, in particular the stunning crater lakes. The main attractions are the Sete Cidades Lake on the west side of the island, the Furnas Lake with its hot springs, and the Fogo Lake Protected Landscape, which was elected as one of the seven wonders of Portugal.

São Miguel offers divers a great variety of sites and is easily accessible, with daily nonstop flights and a fascinating city base full of history and interesting monuments. Among the many coastal dive sites the ‘Dori’ shipwreck is undoubtedly the highlight. This Liberty ship from World War II rests on a sandy seafloor at an ideal depth for diving, just a few minutes away from the city of Ponta Delgada.

Divers will also enjoy the marine reserve that surrounds the small Vila Franca Islet, located a few hundred metres from the old capital of the island – Vila Franca do Campo. Created by an ancient submerged volcano, it is a protected area that offers an abundance of marine life. The island of São Miguel will also appeal to coastal divers, with several fantastic reefs such as the Lourenços and Sabrina Reefs, which lie close to the coast. It is common to see groups of devil rays and schools of large pelagic fish on these reefs.

Those looking to dive in deeper waters also have access to the seamounts. The island is a departure point for the mythical dive sites of the Formigas Islets and the Dollabarat Seamount, located about 40 miles away and known for crystal-clear waters where large schools of pelagic fish, devil rays and sharks swim.