Portuguese Eden: 7 Sensational Things to do In The Azores ♦ For those affectionate travellers, the Azores are a well-known destination. Recognized by Unesco has a world heritage, this Portuguese archipelago is an autonomous territory of Portugal in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The islands are characterized by amazing landscapes, fishing villages, amazing green fields (and its cows), and also blue hydrangea hedges. São Miguel, the largest and island has volcanic boilers that turned rivers, has amazing tea (gorreana tea), Pico (the second largest island is home to the 2,351-meter-high Pico Mountain with rock-covered vineyards, and also, Santa Maria, the well-known island called “the Hawaii and Algarve of the Azores”, this stunning island has S. Lounreço bay with a natural pool, terraced vineyards and lets not forget the amazing houses, all in white with edges in different colours that change from village to village. Secrets From Portugal brings you the ultimate sensational things to do in the Azores, feeling the urge to go yet?
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The exposed tips of vast underwater mountains, the Azores lie on the nexus of the European, American and African tectonic plates, and they bear witness to the forces forever shaping our planet. This is a world of fumaroles, mud pots and scalding springs; of caverns, columns and grottoes formed from once molten rock; of blue lakes ringed by forests of laurel and cedar, and green pastures patterning the slopes of calderas.
In the blue expanse of the Atlantic, Mother Nature has created a land full of natural beauty and ready to be explored: the Azores Archipelago, a Portuguese Eden. To the east, on the island of Santa Maria, the beaches are warm and sandy, and the vineyards that cover the amphitheatre slopes resemble stairways for giants. São Miguel, the largest island, enchants with its Sete Cidades and Fogo lagoons. The force emanating from the earth is felt in the geysers, the hot thermal waters and the volcanic lakes, as well as the tasty “Cozido das Furnas” slowly cooked inside the earth.
In the Central Group, the Terceira, São Jorge, Pico, Faial and Graciosa Islands are harmoniously arranged in the blue sea where whales and dolphins lurk, delighting visitors. Terceira speaks of history in Angra do Heroísmo, classified World Heritage, and also in its parties. Faial is the cool blue of hydrangeas, the marina coloured by yachts paintings from around the world, and the now-extinct Capelinhos volcano resembles a lunar landscape. Opposite, Pico, the mountain that rises from the sea with its vineyards planted in black lava fields. In São Jorge, the highlight goes to the Fajãs and its cheese, a unique speciality with an unmistakable flavour. Graceful in name and appearance, this green island has vine-covered fields that contrast with its peculiar windmills.
The Western group, in the Island of Flores, dazzles us the beauty of natural waterfalls and lagoons excavated by volcanoes. Crow, the miniature island, has at its centre a large and beautiful caldera and attracts various species of birds from not only the European continent but also the American. These are the Azores. Nine islands, nine small worlds that have both common and different, but where the sympathy of their inhabitants is shared by all. Discover now the 7 sensational things to do in the Azores:
7 SENSATIONAL THINGS TO DO IN THE AZORES
The Azores are currently one of the largest whale sanctuaries in the world. Among resident and migratory species, common or rare, there are more than 20 different types of cetaceans in their waters. The number is impressive and corresponds to one-third of all existing species. We are in an ecosystem of unique characteristics. With the presence of majestic whales and friendly dolphins, the blue of the Atlantic becomes even more magical and blessed around these nine islands. And it brings to the new times, where preservation is the keyword, an old cry: “Whale in sight!”. Cetacean watching is an activity that can be practised in the waters of the entire archipelago. The ease of finding whales and dolphins at these stops was accompanied by the development of dynamic and wildlife-friendly tour operators. There are therefore several starting points, spread across various islands, which serve as a base for those wishing to contact the charming mammals. After the boat departs, the vast ocean is the setting for the wonderful encounters between humans and sea life.
Nutrient-rich water welling up from the deep – or rather the life it supports – is what attracts the whales; this is also what makes the Azores one of, if not the, best diving locations in the Atlantic. Warmed to between 17 degrees Celcius and 24 degrees Celcius, the seas truly teem, and visibility reaches 30 metres between May and October. Seasons in the Azores play a huge role in what can be seen and the conditions of your dive. The winter months are empty of tourists with Atlantic storms battering the rugged coastline, yet the diving is surprisingly abundant with life, despite the water temperature dropping to 58F (14C). The spring is when tourists start arriving, night diving at this time is fantastic with sightings of tope shark, squid, thornback rays and clouds of krill to name a few. July to October is high season in the Azores, due to the manta seasons that operate from Pico, Faial and Santa Maria islands.
The mild weather, warm water and variety of the coastline also make the Azores a year-round destination for watersports. The attractions for sailors are obvious and Azorean harbours host a calendar of regattas and events. Horta, the main town of Faial, is the cosmopolitan centre of this transatlantic traffic, and its marina has become an open-air gallery of murals painted by superstitious crews before they depart on their voyages. The conditions also make for great windsurfing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, and other water-based activities, while those seeking something more restful can always take a dip in one of the swimming holes formed by lava as it cooled flowing into the sea.
The Azores Archipelago is of volcanic origin and is considered by many geologists to be composed of exceptional landscapes due to its unique characteristics. The effects of recent eruptions are truly visible and the locations impacted by these events can be visited. The volcanic origins of the islands have created mountains and valleys covered in rich and varied vegetation that grew back over time. The most amazing thing about the volcanic activity is certainly the lakes which formed in ancient volcano craters, as well as hot water springs, fumaroles, thermal hot water fountains and astonishing waterfalls. Our geo-tours include guided visits to caves made up of lava among other places that will blow your mind. The Azores Archipelago is of volcanic origin and is considered by many to be composed of exceptional landscapes due to its unique characteristics. The effects of recent eruptions are visible and the locations of these events can be visited. The volcanic origins of the islands have created mountains and valleys covered in rich and varied vegetation, lakes in ancient volcano craters, hot water springs, fumaroles, thermal hot water fountains, and cascades. Our tours also include guided visits to caves made up of lava chambers.
At 7,713ft, Mt Pico is Portugal’s highest mountain. If conditions are right, the three-hour climb to catch sunrise or sunset is the Azores’ premier hiking experience; however, it faces stiff competition with about 60 marked trails crisscrossing the islands. Composed of a sheer-sided ridge, São Jorge is a hiker’s daydream, but those whose eyes are forever drawn to the edges of a map should probably look to far-flung Flores, the westernmost point of Europe, a real-life Jurassic Park praised for its beauty even among Azoreans. And they should know.
Climb to Capelinhos Volcano
In Faial Island, a part of the territory contrasts radically with the green imagination we have of the Azores. We speak of the Capelinhos Volcano and its rough and “lunar” appearance, resulting from the great eruption that occurred in 1957. This unique scenery can be explored through a trail that we advise you to follow with an official guide to explain everything about this volcanic formation. Although you wish to travel the trail independently, you must register your climb at the Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Center.
Descend to Algar do Coal
Algar is a word of Arabic origin meaning “cave”, “cave” or “natural abyss”, originated “from top to bottom” by waters or the action of lava and magma in a volcanic eruption. In Terceira Island is hidden an Algar of rare beauty, an admirable treasure that can be accessed through a tunnel. It is the Algar do Carvão and the first descent to this cave, still without the current conditions of visit, was made in 1893. Its crater measures 20 meters x 15 meters and 90 meters deep is a lagoon of water. crystal clear.