Princess Alice Bank - Diving Azores
Difficulty of the dives: High
Minimum certification required: PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent
Seasonality: July through mid-October
The Princess Alice Bank, or Banco Princesa Alice as it is called in Portuguese, is a submerged seamount that is located 50 nautical miles (92.6 km) to the southwest of Pico Island and 45 nautical miles (83.3 km) to the southwest of Faial Island in the Azores. The seamount rises from abyssal depths of more than 1500m to about 35m below the surface.
Strong currents can occur at any time so divers normally conduct the entire dive from the safety of a descent line. Well renowned for the extraordinary Carousel of Mantas and Mobulas, Princess Alice is also inhabited by Jacks, huge Tunas, Barracudas, bill-fish such as Blue Marlin's and Sharks.
Departure from the dive centre is scheduled between 7am and 8am from the base in Madalena - island of Pico. Getting to Princess Alice is a 2.5-hour cruise, and once there, the dive team will prepare the dives which, due to the strong currents, are carried out on a descent line.
The mantas and mobulas will be swimming in a circle around the pinnacle situated at -30 metres, making it unnecessary to leave the place where the boat sets anchor. Leaving the descent line can make you quickly find yourself in the blue, far away from the boat and the action. Because of that, the descent line can only be left upon authorisation by the dive guides.
A standard trip to Princess Alice includes 2 dives. Surface interval is spent on board for lunch and can be made more interesting by going for a snorkel. Quite often the mantas and mobulas come up right to the surface! Few divers have ever got back disappointed from Princess Alice. Once back to land you will have fantastic stories to tell for days on end and it is an adventure you will remember for life.
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