Island vacations are a true escape, one that feels the furthest from our everyday lives. Nothing but you, the beach, and long stretches of ocean to create distance from the daily grind and worries of life. About 870mi west of Lisbon, Portugal is the opportunity to visit just that place—the Azores Islands. A place that not only provides a remote getaway, but prides itself on sustainable tourism.
Officially named the Autonomous Region of the Azores, the Azores is an archipelago of 9 islands. Being volcanic in nature, the fertile earth of the islands sprang up a paradise. Lush green fields, forests, and mountains cover the terrain. Particularly São Miguel, the largest island in the chain. The capital of the Azores is Ponta Delgada. The architectural heritage of this city is rich and colorful, a stark contrast to the igneous rock (basalt) that form patterns on the roads and lanes that give romantic views of the city. Outside of the city are award-winning parks with waterfalls, walkways, and flora specific to the island. A star attraction is the Lagoa do Fogo, the Lake of Fire, a crater lake in the center of the island. Here, stunning views from the top of the crater show the awesome power of volcanoes and beautiful aftermath that causes an overlook of grand proportions. Other islands include Terceira, Faial, Flores, Pico, São Jorge, Santa Maria, Corvo, and Monchique Islet.
The islands of Azores have more than just a pretty landscape, which is already completely worth it. Always in support of eco-friendly tours and programs that promote a better planet, they are one of the biggest whale sanctuaries in the world. Due to the steep sloop of the volcanic islands, the surrounding ocean is a biodiverse environment perfect for their hunting habits—including giant squid. There are also Bottlenose, Common, and Risso’s dolphins to delight the traveler along a peaceful ride with sea life.
Being a paradise island, of course, the water experiences are top-notch. Temperatures in the ocean around the Azores are always mild, ranging from 63-77ºF. This makes diving a treat for the traveler. As written earlier, dolphins and whales are found here; but, the azure water contains much more. World War II shipwrecks offer a look into history; orcas; and the rare Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish. Waves along the coasts are consistent, and perfect for surfing. Canoeing and kayaking will also give a great view of the wildlife, while casually paddling along the coasts. And, for the sportsman, big game fishing can bring trophies worth the flight—including bluefin tuna.
Land tours and adventuring are even more prevalent. The parks around the Azores are kept wild, but with designs that help them flourish. Lagoa do Fogo, mentioned earlier is a prime example of this. Caldeira das Sete Cidades is another crater park with views of a tree-covered valley and serene lakes. The Parque Terra Nostra has a thermal water pool from an underground volcanic spring that keeps the iron-rich water at 95°F to 104°F—a soak that will give the traveler the rest and relaxation of a true island vacation. The traveler can get around these amazing parks by hiking, biking, and horseback riding. And, on the more adventurous side, canyoning and paragliding.
Regardless of the choices a traveler might make, whether it be leisurely or adventurous, the geotourism of the Azores islands helps keep the natural identity of the local areas—while adding to the traveler’s delight on a subtropical, island getaway. Azores, the Hawai’i of the Atlantic, a gem of Portugal… awaits the traveler year-round with its pleasant atmosphere. That’s why VisitAzores.com is offering up the best and brightest spots on the Azores.
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