Sailing Holidays

Sailing Holidays in the Azores

Dramatic volcanic landscapes, rolling green fields, quaint fishing villages and reliable winds ensure a fantastic sailing holiday in the Azores. 

The Azores are a group of nine islands located in the mid Atlantic around 760 miles off the coast of Portugal. With privileged climatic conditions, the Azores receive mild temperatures due to the influence of the Gulf Stream and show no major variations in air temperature throughout the year. Due to the remote mid Atlantic location, the sailing is exhilarating and yacht charter in the Azores requires more experience than in the easier Mediterranean destinations. 

Yacht charter in the Azores gives you the chance to experience a truly unspoilt destination packed full with volcanoes, caves, waterfalls, striking green valleys and World Heritage Sites. 

Each of the nine islands has its own unique feel and having the option to start your sailing holiday from one of the three bases located at Horta, Ponta Delgada and Velas gives you maximum opportunity to see as much of this magical archipelago as possible. The area is also famous for whales, dolphins and turtles so be sure to keep an eye out for them during your sailing holiday!

For yacht charter in the Azores the skipper must have RYA Day Skipper Practical certificate or RYA ICC qualification as well as VHF licence. Experience up to Coastal Skipper is recommended.

The Azores consist of nine islands of volcanic origin which are located in the North Atlantic some 760 miles from Portugal and more than 2110 miles from Canada. The islands of the archipelago are divided in three geographical groups: the Eastern Group, comprising Santa Maria and São Miguel, the Central Group, including Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial, and the Western Group, composed of Corvo and Flores. The maximum distance between the islands is just over 340 miles stretching from Santa Maria to Corvo.

Sao Miguel is the largest of the islands and is known locally as the 'Green Island' due to its vast rolling fields and valleys which are home to native flora such as the Azores heather, faya, laurel and holly. The green fields are contrasted by large lakes sitting within volcanic craters, with the most iconic one lying in Sete Cidades. From the Vista do Rei lookout you can see the twin lakes, the green and the blue, paired together by a bridge. Fogo lake by comparison is surrounded by rugged and wild vegetation sitting within the aptly named Beautiful Valley. Another main attraction of Sao Miguel are the natural hot water pools which take different formats throughout the island but which are most effusive in the Furnas Valley which is home to dozens of thermal springs.

The islands remain unspoiled with numerous national parks, areas of protected landscape, flora and fauna, forest reserves and sites of geological interest. It is easy to see why the Azores are considered one of the best locations for nature tourism. For more activities on the water you will not be disappointed with a whole range of dive sites, kayaking, great surf as well as windsurfing opportunities.

A sailing holiday in the Azores does need reasonable prior experience to RYA Coastal Skipper standard. This is the open Atlantic, not the semi-enclosed Mediterranean nor the predictable Caribbean. Distances between certain islands are considerable and the winds can be strong.

Ideal sailing window is late March-October when winds become more predictable. Westerly trade winds averaging Force 3-5 and average temperatures of 20-26 degrees. Experience Level 3.

 


DAY 1 : Embark at Horta on the island of Faial, about 10 minutes from the airport.
DAY 2 : Velas (22nm), Sao Jorge Island. Be amazed by arriving at the unique natural setting of Velas Marina, sheltered by huge cliffs of 200m. Discover the enchanting towns of Velas and Calheta and cross the thin (8km) but steep island (300m) to visit some of the fabulous fajas (low tongues of lava at the bottom of steep volcanic cliffs) such as Cubres, Ouvidor and especially Santo Cristo, a unique natural ring shaped lagoon which is now becoming a surfing sanctuary.
DAY 3 : Sail to Angra do Heroismo (49nm) on Terceira Island. Enjoy a full day of sailing and cross your fingers for an amazing ride shared with dolphins and perhaps even turtles and whales! You won’t be the first lucky one.
DAY 4 : Explore Terceira Island. Once in Angra do Heroismo get yourself lost in the immaculate and well preserved streets of one of the most historical cities in Portugal and a UNESCO World Heritage site however Terceira's charm does not end there. Drive along the green leaves of a truly stunning landscape towards the Algar do Carvão caves, with their magnificent stalagmites, stalactites and lake. Terceira is the land of joy and excitement in the Azores where you can watch traditional bullfights which are still very popular with the locals.
DAY 5: Sail to Lajes do Pico (54nm) on Pico Island. Enjoy another full day of sailing and admire the natural beauty of Pico’s rough south coast before entering the birthplace of the Azorean once legendary whale industry, Lajes do Pico.
DAY 6 : Explore Pico Island One day to visit Pico is the least you can do with its abundance of attractions such as the Whalemen's museum, the World Heritage Site of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture and the high lagoons of Capitao and Caiado.
DAY 7 : Sail back to Horta (21nm). After an action packed week, make sure you do not leave before admiring the Caldeira Volcano, a deep crater of 2000 X 400 meters and Capelinhos Volcano, an almost lunar and arid landscape of 3 square km. 

Yachts are based at Ponta Delgada, Horta and Velas marinas. Charters run Saturday-Saturday which fits with flights from the UK.
SATA (Gatwick) and Ryanair (Stansted) both have direct flights to Ponta Delagada on Saturdays. If chartering from Horta you can fly direct to Lisbon and from Lisbon airport you take a SATA flight direct to Horta. For charters from the base at Velas you will need to fly to Horta and then take a ferry (1.5hrs) to Velas.
The bases at Ponta Delgada and Horta are both just a short 10 minute transfer from the airport.

planning
 Early Booking Specials in the Azores

Early Booking Specials in the Azores

Book any yacht in the Azores more than 4 months in advance and get
5% OFF 1 week + extra 5% OFF for 2 weeks.

PLAN YOUR TRIP NOW

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Adventure in the Azores

Adventure in the Azores

Escape to the Azores this summer and enjoy an unforgettable week of sailing!

HEAD FOR THE BLUE!

Prices given below. Click on the yacht names to view yacht layout & specification

Yacht charter rates are shown WITHOUT flights giving you the flexibility to book your own flights.

If you want a flight-inclusive holiday Nautilus Yachting is a fully bonded ATOL tour operator and can book flights from the UK to fit your sailing holiday. Choose from a wide choice of airlines - we are not tied to any particular airline. All flight-inclusive holidays are fully bonded for your financial protection under our ATOL 3016. Airport transfers can also be pre-arranged.

FLIGHTS TO THE AZORES:
SATA (Gatwick) and Ryanair (Stansted) both have direct flights to Ponta Delagada on Saturdays. If chartering from Horta you can fly direct to Lisbon from where you can take a SATA flight direct to Horta. For charters from the base at Velas you will need to fly to Horta and then take a ferry (1.5hrs) to Velas. The bases at Ponta Delgada and Horta are both just a short 10 minute transfer from the airports.

To charter a yacht bareboat or on flotilla you should be Day Skipper standard and be assisted by at least one competent crew.

You need an RYA Day Skipper qualification or RYA International Certificate of Competence (ICC) for charters in Spain and Portugal, including Mallorca, Tenerife and the Azores.

For charters in the Azores a VHF license is also required.

The RYA ICC will be ever more required by overseas port authorities but if you have skipper experience it is easily obtained in a day from RYA sailing schools in the UK such as Hamilton Sailing or Brixham Sea School 

Whether you are an experienced sailor or setting foot on a yacht for the first time, we can offer you a holiday afloat to suit you. We have given all the sailing areas a level with 'Experience Level 1' suitable for less experienced crews and 'Experience Level 3' for the experts.    

This takes into account the wind strength, tidal range and currents, distances between stops and ease of mooring. Of course even experts may choose to sail in Level 1 areas as they still offer stunning scenery and great sailing.

Experience Level 1: Mallorca - south and east coast

Generally light winds Force 2-4, line of sight navigation, shorter sailing distances under 20nm. You will be Day Skipper standard having sailed at least 1 week or 100nm as skipper.

Experience Level 2: Mallorca - round the island

Stronger winds up to Force 3-5 with some longer passages up to 30nm. You will be Day Skipper standard having sailed at least 2 weeks or 200nm as skipper.

Experience Level 3: Mallorca - visit other Balearic islands; Tenerife; the Azores

Stronger winds up to Force 4-7 which can lead to bigger seas on long passages between the islands. You will be Coastal Skipper 
standard with experience to a higher level having sailed at least 4 weeks or 400nm as skipper.

Horta (FAIAL ISLAND). Horta marina is one of the busiest in the world, being a ideal stopover for yachts crossing the Atlantic. It is well known for the impressive art work which lines the walls of the marina, drawn by sailors from all over the world. It is a tradition set many years ago to bring good luck on their passage and enable them to reach their destination safely. Faial is also home to Caldeira Volcano and Capelinhos Volcano, an almost lunar landscape which expanded the land by almost 3 square kilometres by more than 300 explosions and earthquakes in 1957.

Velas (SÃO JORGE ISLAND). Be amazed by arriving at the unique natural setting of Velas Marina, sheltered by huge cliffs of 200m. Discover the enchanting towns of Velas and Calheta and cross the thin (8km) but steep island (300m) to visit some of its more fabulous fajas (low tongues of lava at the bottom of steep volcanic cliffs) such as Cubres, Ouvidor and Santo Cristo, a unique natural lagoon ring-shaped, that is now becoming a surfing sanctuary.

Ponta Delgada (SÃO MIGUEL ISLAND). Known as the “Green Island”, São Miguel is the land of lakes lying in volcanic craters and endless virgin forests. Sete Cidades, a twin lake surrounded by legends and myths and Fogo, with its stunning views are not to be missed. In Furnas valley you can immerse yourself in the thermal hot springs, fumaroles and carbonated waters. If you enjoy tea then be sure to visit Gorreana and Porto Formoso tea factories, the only places in Europe where tea is produced.

"Excellent service. The base manager was excellent and both he and his friendly extremely friendly, efficient, helpful & welcoming. Transfer was easy with an afternoon in Pisa. Anchorages all very scenic."
Puntone, Italy 2013 - D.J.

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