Words: Jack Ward
When planning your next adventure, Europe offers a wealth of destinations waiting to be explored. If you're in search of a destination where you can pause, reconnect with nature, and fully immerse yourself in the captivating natural beauty Portugal has to offer, your search ends here. Venture on this European getaway that leads you off the well-beaten path and unveil hidden treasures on the beautiful islands of Azores.
We journey to the wild and unspoiled beauty of the Azores Islands, a hidden gem in the vast Atlantic Ocean. This Portuguese archipelago comprises nine volcanic islands, each displaying a unique and natural charm. The Azores are a haven for nature lovers, verdant landscapes, marine life, and rugged allure all contribute to this island being a traveller’s dream. So, let's get started with our travel guide introducing the Azores.
Exploring the Atlantic
A boat excursion is highly recommended to experience the wonders of the island São Miguel. Whether you want to embark on a wild dolphin swim from Ponta Delgada or simply relax on deck for a serene sightseeing experience, there are a variety of tours to choose from. The Azores are a renowned hotspot for spotting marine mammals, with various whale species basking in the warm waters. Alongside them, you'll also find different species of turtles like the leatherback and loggerhead, following an ancient migratory path across the Atlantic Ocean.
Immersed in Nature
You might also consider immersing yourself in the natural healing waters of São Miguel, featuring many of the Azores' hot springs and thermal pools. One of the most popular spots is the Terra Nostra Hot Springs in Furnas Valley, featuring a large, mineral-rich bathing pool surrounded by wonderful botanical gardens. The water here is orange due to the iron content, which is beneficial for the skin. You can also check out Caldeira Velha Hot Spring and Poça da Dona Beija to name a few, offering a series of beautiful, heated pools for ultimate relaxation. For those seeking adventure, São Jorge offers excellent hiking opportunities. Walking is the best way to explore here, there are varied routes which show the diverse landscapes this island has to offer from lush greenery, waterfalls, and costal walkways.
The Azoreans have a unique term for the flat coastal areas formed by lava meeting the sea known as 'fajã'. These islands have volcanic origins and many of the walkways bear the mark of seismic activity and magma eruptions. Exploring the lava tubes is a captivating underground venture. Lava tubes are nature's underground passages created when lava flows beneath the surface and they take shape as lava channels and pahoehoe flows develop a solid crust.
Dining in the Azores
While most islands are renowned for seafood, the Azores stands out for its dairy and beef dishes, thanks to the lush farmlands on the islands. Consider reserving a table at A Tasca or Boca de Cena for calm, inviting interiors and menus brimming with specialties, which feature an array of tasty cheeses and steaks. For a unique local treat, don't miss the opportunity to taste the island's fresh pineapples, a delicacy cultivated here for over 150 years. Learn about the fascinating pineapple-growing process and treat yourself to homemade pineapple liqueur and jam.
If you are enticed by the untamed charm of the Azores, Portugal is awaiting your arrival. Here you can experience reverence for the divine beauty of your surroundings, taking time to sit, experience stillness and drink the wild ocean air. These picturesque islands are full of hidden wonders awaiting your discovery. From dramatic landscapes to cultural delights, the Azores promise an unforgettable journey. Don't delay; your next European escapade might be closer to paradise than you ever imagined.