Portugal is the westernmost state of continental Eurasia, located on the Iberian Peninsula and washed by the Atlantic Ocean. Here you can find some popular diving destinations, such as the Azores (Portuguese: Açores) — a picturesque group of nine islands far off the coast, and the Madeira Archipelago. Local waters are favourable for diving all the year round because the temperature never drops below +16 °C. You can dive directly from the shore: the main deepwater attractions do not require a boat journey. Underwater landscapes, numerous grottos and caves, inhabited by a range of sea creatures from barracudas and moonyfish to sharks, make diving in Portugal interesting. There are also a lot of sites for exciting wreck diving by the shore.
The best dive sites in Portugal are the Azore Islands (Portuguese: Açores) and the Madeira Archipelago. The surroundings of Algarve Province is a perfect place for wreck diving enthusiasts. The seabed near Madeira is covered with peculiarly shaped reefs and caves, and underwater photographs taken here are especially impressive. Besides, it is home for rays, dolphins and many species of fish. Due to the distance between the islands and the mainland, fewer tourists come to the Azores, while the sea life is more varied. In some places, you can even try diving with whales.
There are many dive shops on the coast of the continent and the islands, which provide training courses and services for divers regardless of their level of training, including diving instructors. Here you can try reef diving, wreck diving and snorkelling, or swim with whales and even underwater hunting.
In spring the temperature in Portugal is stands between +15 and +17 °C, there are no limitations for diving. However, occasional rains, that usually stop within a few hours, could dampen the mood.
In summer the air temperature on the mainland and on the islands rises to +30 °C, and the water warms up to +26 °C. July and August may be hotter, but the heat is not tolerable. There is little to no rain at this time of the year.
it is mostly rainy in autumn, especially in November. However, the temperature stays between +22 and +25 °С. As a rule, the warm season on the Azores lasts a little longer.
In winter the air temperature on the islands and on the mainland varies from +13 to +18 °C, however, this season is as favourable for diving as any other: In Portugal, you can dive all the year round.
The most popular tourist dive sites are Parcial do Garajau, the marine park near Madeira, and the Ocean Revival park near Algarve. You should also visit the Azore Islands (Portuguese: Açores): you could come across manta rays and whale sharks near Santa Maria Island, and near Ilha do Pico and Faial Islands you will find blue sharks and interesting wreck spots.
Vaccinations against yellow fever are necessary and should be done a month or two before the trip to Portugal. It is also recommended to get vaccinations against other diseases (the flu, tetanus, MMR) and to purchase a travel health insurance. Despite high healthcare standards, even first aid will not be provided without a health insurance card or payment in cash.
Portugal is relatively safe, however, tourists should beware of fraudsters and pocket pickers in public transport (underground, buses). It is better to keep your passport and cash money in the safe in your hotel.
Local sea creatures that you should avoid include the large poisonous Chrysaora and rabbitfish. This fish never attacks, but you can hurt yourself with its poisonous spine by accident.
The traditional Portuguese cuisine was created by peasants and fishermen, so all the dishes are hearty and simple. Any tourist should try Bacalhau — dried cod served with chickpeas. Fish lovers will enjoy Tamboril — it is a roast angler served with rice. Appetisers served in local restaurants may include a fish stew called Caldeirada, or Sopa de Pedra — a soup with beans, a pig's ear, potatoes, carrots, onions and... a little stone. Portugal cannot be imagined without its famous wines and ports. If you don't like wine, you can try Portuguese Coral Beer. It strongly compliments dishes with dried fish. Tap water in the country is clean and suitable for drinking.