The Azores, we hear too little about them unfortunately. People often opt for the alternative more famous Madeira and Canary Islands. Nothing wrong with that but at the same time it’s a shame as the Azores truly are a jewel in the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll notice very little mass tourism here and nature is breathtakingly beautiful.
After seeing a documentary five years ago I knew it, I just had to go to the Azores! It did not take a lot of time before me and my friend jumped on a plane to Sao Miguel.
Sao Miguel is the largest of the nine islands that belong to the Azores archipelago. We decided to stay in Sao Miguel for a first visit. You can also spend more time by opting for island hopping and for example, visit the island of Pico and hike to the summit of Pico volcano.
Like all islands belonging to the archipelago, Sao Miguel is volcanic and everything is bubbling there. This has led to beautiful crater lakes, many hot springs and geysers. Do not expect a bustling nightlife. The atmosphere is calm and relaxed and the capital Ponta Delgada offers many cultural attractions.
We chose the small town Caletas, located on the north west coast, as a base. Nothing special, but within twenty minutes we were in the capital, Ponta Delgada. The distances are easy to drive and the island is not so wide. So you can easily drive around half of the island in one day and admire some hotspots. And the good thing is: no crowds.
The first thing I noticed is that Sao Miguel is so green which explains the island’s nickname the “green island”. Everything is beautiful: the traditional churches, the different murals and cozy harbour in Ponta Delgada, the abundance of hydrangeas, the many beautiful and well maintained picnic areas along the way and the natural pools where you can take a nice refreshing dive.
But what did I enjoy most? I made a top five list of places that you should visit on Sao Miguel.
Beautiful lakes: from green to yellow to blue
Sete Cidades: Lago Azul and Lago Verde
These lakes lie against each other and each one has its own color blue and green. To admire these gems you have to be lucky, the weather here has its own character. I have never seen clouds moving as quickly in the sky as in the Azores! So we have made two attempts during our stay and seen the lakes with thick fog and also with sunshine. As a hiker, you will certainly enjoy yourself here. There are several hiking trails around the lake.
This lake is located in a picturesque setting and the yellow-green color of the water is magnificent. The lake is ideal for a short stop or picnic before or after visiting the town of Furnas, which is known for its many hot springs.
Hiking to Lagoa do Fogo
The view of the lake from the top of the mountain is beautiful and in the distance you can see the coast. A trail takes you further down and around the lake. Lovely to stretch your legs and enjoy the fresh air and green surroundings.
Amazing parks and gardens
The botanical gardens “Terra Nostar Garden” and swimming in the thermal pool
This garden contains a huge amount of exotic plants and trees. After a stroll through the gardens in combination with a dip in the warm mineral bath you will feel reborn. Watch out, the water contains lots of iron and the ocher color rubs off so leave your best bathing suits and towels at home!
Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes
This park is definitely worth a visit. Abundant vegetation, flowers, streams, several waterfalls, (water) mills: you find yourself in a fairytale setting. The big waterfall is visible from the road but if you walk a little further, there are a few smaller ones to admire.
It may sound pretty standard but the Azores are perfect for spotting dolphins as well as whales. I personally love dolphins and I love to see them in their own environment. So we made a day trip and we spotted four different species of dolphins. On the program: dolphin watching, a well-organised lunch in an idyllic setting, snorkeling in clear blue water and beautiful landscapes from the water. Who wouldn’t want that?
The beach of Robeira Quinte
Those looking for a nice, quiet and long sandy beach located right in town won’t be disappointed. Again, space, tranquility and no one to disturb you. With your eyes closed you can hear the waves crashing on the shore and you feel a refreshing breeze and a warm sun on your skin. Pure delight. What I liked most about his beach is the dark color of the sand and the wild waves that are very fun to swim in.
The versatility and the magic of the landscapes
Those who travel to Sao Miguel will be surprised constantly. The landscapes include various coastlines, cliffs, meadows, hills and volcanic landscapes. It’s a delight for your eyes and you feel one with nature here.
Sao Miguel is a paradise for those who love tranquility and nature. Also from any place in Europe you’ll fly to Sao Miguel within only a few hours and one week is enough to explore the island. Be enchanted by the magical landscapes and go, explore this magical place!