Volunteer in Portugal

The Azores are one of Europe's best kept secrets. Unbeknownst to many, being located in the middle of the Northern Atlantic Ocean and 1500 kilometres from Portugal's capital Lisbon, their charm lies in their ruggedness and rustic charm.

Since they were first settled in the 15th century, each island has developed at a different speed. They are all verdant, peaceful, diverse and extremely beautiful, dotted with small rural houses, green pastures, lush forests, impressive volcanic landscapes, and an incredible azure sea awash with currents and a wealth of marine life.

As a volunteer in Portugal (or, more specifically, the Azores) you will have the opportunity to assist in the island's whale conservation and dolphin conservation initiatives. You will get the chance to experience field research and to observe whales and dolphins in their natural realm, whilst learning about whale biology, marine conservation, species identification and photo-ID and behavioural data collection techniques.

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The main wildlife focus for these small islands just off of the coast of Portugal is marine life. The waters around the Azores are brimming with different aquatic animals and this is one of the best places in the entire world to see a lot of different marine life in one location. Some of the animals you can see include:

  • Sperm Whales
  • Northern Bottlenose Whales
  • Orca Whales
  • Sharks
  • Dolphins
  • Swordfish

There are no endemic species on the islands of the Azores themselves, but due to it being a stopover point for many birds on their migration between North America and Europe, there is often a wide variety of bird species located on the island! It doesn’t matter if your preference is air or sea, there will be an animal for you on the Azores!


As you can probably guess, the culture in the Azores is heavily and almost entirely influenced by the original settlers who came over to the islands from Portugal back in 1493. The Azores very own website describes the culture today as “an interesting mix of agricultural, whaling, military, and wine,” so you can already tell that you are in for a relaxed time when on the islands! Whaling may be in the past on the Azores, but some things you should remember for the present include:

  • Learning a little about the history of the islands to impress your hosts!
  • That the islands enjoy life at a slower pace than mainland Portugal and Europe, so be prepared to wait around!
  • The islands are very proud of their music, and if you can sing or dance you could well be expected to show off your skills at some point!

If you get a little tired from all of your exertions on the islands, then why not cool down with a dip in the crystal clear seas?

Popular Destinations

We would strongly advise visiting the Azores if you have your sea legs very firmly attached, but these pretty islands are not solely limited to sea fairing activities. Some of the places you could visit during your stay in the Azores include:

  • Santa Maria – On this island you can climb up Pico Alto, and once you reach the 590m hill you will have an amazing view across the entire island.
  • The Local Church for the Holy Ghost Festival – One member of the public is chosen to become Emperor or Empress for the day!
  • Sao Miguel Golf Course – If you are keen to play a round or two of golf, you won’t get a much more picturesque setting than this!

Take your time and make sure you enjoy the slower pace of life on the islands.

Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 9BX
United Kingdom
Opening hours: 9am–5pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987

Foreign Office Travel Advice