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Sao Miguel vs. Madeira vs. Algarve - which one to dive

Discussion in 'Western Europe' started by soguialini, Aug 1, 2019.

  1. soguialini

    soguialini Garibaldi


    I will be going to portugal and plan on doing 1 dive while there. First some basic information. It will be just me and my girlfriend, we have both done the discovery dive and unfortunately we still have not gotten certified, so where ever we do decide to dive it will have to be another discovery dive. We will be in Portugal from September 9 until September 23. We will spend 4 days in Madeira, then 3 days in Sao Miguel then 4 days in the Algarve.

    From my research it looks like Sao Miguel or Madeira are the best. I would love to see big fish and mammals but with only being able to do the discovery dive do you think its worth it? What will we see?

    My main question though is which place do you recommend?

    I was thinking Sao Miguel, but only because we have a few other activities lined up in Madeira we wanted to do. Sao Miguel is the place where, right now, we have the most free time. But if Madeira is better we can change things up, no big deal.

    Thanks for all the help!
  2. soguialini

    soguialini Garibaldi

    Please help we are leaving in less than a month and need to plan. Thank you.
  3. David Novo

    David Novo Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Porto, Portugal, Europe
    Hard to tell as you are pretty limited without being certified.

    I never dove in Madeira but have heard good reviews from people I dive with (you can dive with sea lions there but you will probably need to be certified).
    I dove in Santa Maria (smaller island next to São Miguel), as well as in Formigas/Dollabarat (middle way between Santa Maria and São Miguel). There were plenty of big fish (devil rays, big sting rays, barracudas, amberjack, groupers) but for sure not for discovery dives.

    From what I heard, Algarve (never dived there either) seems to be the weakest link of that chain.

    I think you should contact a dive center to check if your expectations match what you can see in a discovery dive. Try Season Challenge in São Miguel: I dove with Paulo Oliveira when he was in Santa Maria and he really knows his way around those islands.

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