A dream came true when I finally was able to travel to the Azores. I spent a week on the largest of the islands: Sao Miguel. Sao Miguel is the ideal setting for nature lovers who want a different kind of vacation away from touristy crowds. At any part of the island, you will be amazed at the contrast of the blue of the ocean with the green landscapes. Sao Miguel has been one of the highlights of my travels so far and I love to share my Azores tips.
The nature with its beautiful crater lakes like Lagoa do Fogo and Lagoa das Sete Cidades, the geometrical area Furnas, trees, flowers and great views were really overwhelming.
Its main industries are agriculture, dairy farming (for cheese and butter products primarily), livestock ranching (especially the black and white Dutch cows; in fact, Sao Miguel is home to more cows than people), fishing and tourism. It is forbidden for dairy cows on the islands to live in barns or eat anything other than their natural diet of grass. The milk is hormone-free and antibiotic-free. Almost all the electricity supply on the green island comes from the self-sufficient geothermal energy. The island avoids the import of fossil fuel and is therefore very environmentally friendly.
The main village of the island, Sao Miguel, is Ponta Delgada, where I stayed at Hotel Acores Atlantico with great ocean view. Ponta Delgada is a lovely old town with a lot of historic buildings, small streets, and alleys with shops and restaurants, a harbour and botanical gardens. Every night I enjoyed the wonderful sunset from my balcony.
Botanical garden Antonio Borges, Ponta Delgada
I visited three botanical gardens in Ponta Delgada. The most beautiful one is no doubt the Jardim António Borges (António Borges Garden). This romantic garden was built in the 19th Century and became a rich and interesting garden.
I especially enjoyed the huge and marvellous Australian fig trees! For those who enjoy being surrounded by nature and serenity.
Already on the second day, I went on a small zodiac boat for whale watching. The Azores offer the opportunity to observe about 27 species of whales and dolphins throughout the year, always in the company of a professional team of skippers, biologists, and lookouts.
The boats hardly make any noise and you stay at least 50 meters from the animals to protect them. I was happy with the ethical manner of approaching the whales. We spotted a fin whale and two sperm whales. It is impossible to describe the amazing feeling when you see these creatures in real life.
Terra Nostra Park, Furnas
On the east side of the island, you can find the Furnas area, which is one of the most active thermal locations on Earth. But the most popular attraction for most visitors to Furnas is the thermal baths. Furnas has several establishments where one can enjoy the benefits of water from the interior of the earth, with minerals, among them the thermal pool of Terra Nostra Park. The Terra Nostra Park is one of the most beautiful gardens in Europe. Besides the thermal swimming pool with yellow water, it contains more than 2,000 different trees.
And of course, I took a swim in the pool!
Believe it or not, I could not share all my tips with you….it is simply too much and you should really go see for yourself. I end my story with cats. On some spots on the islands, I saw cats that are being taken care of by volunteers. They are neutered, notably as a way to deal with the problems of feral animals, and fed. They look very happy!
Azores tips for foodies
Where to eat in The Azores? Check out The Azores, restaurants tips >>