The Azores… A Great Escape
If you’re looking to totally forget the rat race and escape a stressful life for a week or two, a holiday in the Azores has to be the best place you could possibly go. Green hills and mountains, volcanoes, pristine beaches, rugged and craggy creeks, exciting hiking trails, snorkelling, diving, whale watching, jungle-like rain forests, great food, divine wine and… well, so much more to discover! I visited four of the nine islands that form the archipelago, way out in the Atlatic between Europe and America, but really you could stay on just one (Sao Miguel, the largest of the Azores) and still find yourself with too many things to do!
Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel is your point of entry to the rest of the archipelago. From there, you can embark on a visit full of adventure, exploration and breath-taking geological sights. The archipelago emerged from hundreds of thousands of years of intense volcanic activity, so hiking on the islands is almost like taking a tour of Earth’s volcanic past. Of all Portuguese words you’ll learn while you’re there, “caldeira” will likely come up most often. A caldeira, or volcanic crater, is one of the most common geological feature on the Azores. And that’s particularly true for Sao Miguel: Sete Cidades, Furnas, Lagoa do Fogo… Those are but a few among the myriad volcanic sites on the island. Impressive craters, natural thermal sources, all in a paradise-like setting, surrounded by the wild, beautiful Atlantic Ocean.
Food and wine aficionados won’t be disappointed either. Don’t leave the Azores before trying the famous “Cozido das Furnas” accompanied by Vinho Basalto (basaltic wine from neighbouring Pico Island). Cozido is essentially a stew, but cooked traditionally, which in the Azores means it’s buried in a volcanic heat source for a whole day! For an excellent cozido, head over to the little town of Furnas, and while there, go for a swim at Terra Nostra’s natural thermal pool.
If you’re looking to spend a day at the beach, head over to Sao Miguel’s historic capital, Vila Franca do Campo, and from there it’s just a 10mn boat ride to Ilha de Vila Franca do Campo, a pristine uninhabited volcanic crater off the coast of Sao Miguel. You can swim in the shallow crater and sunbath on the sides of the caldeira. Great way to spend a few hours relaxing between hikes!
The Azores is so much more than just Sao Miguel, so make sure you don’t miss out on the other islands. My personal pick goes to Pico, Sao Jorge and Madalena islands. But every island on the Azores is unique and you’ll be stunned by the variety of activities, sights and experiences each island has to offer.
Yann is a Sales & Marketing Manager in the Marketing Department