The Azores are Portuguese islands which offer a wide array of adventure, and beauty. If you are thinking about going this top 10 list will make for a great trip! Here is my top ten list of the best things to do while you are visiting San Migues, Azores.
1- Lagoa Azul
Lagoa Azul is next to Sete Cidades, it is two breathtaking lakes side by side- one is green, the other is blue separated only by a bridge often called the twin lakes. You can drive down to the lakes and take a walk around but the colour difference of the lakes is best seen from above atop the nearby hill where the once prestigious abandoned hotel “Monte Palace” sits overlooking the lakes (See # 9).
2- Take a Drive Anywhere
The countryside is absolutely stunning, the moss, the lush forest, the flowers, the wildlife, mountains, and pretty much 360-degree views of the ocean. Just be careful the side roads are often very narrow and you will likely find someone going the other way. Drive slow, and honk when you are turning blind corners so you don’t crash into oncoming traffic.
3- Swim with Wild Dolphins
Swimming with dolphins is something on many people’s bucket lists but they are often kept in small cages- not something I am supporting. There are many tours out of Ponta Delgada which offer swimming with wild dolphins. The companies find a grouping of dolphins and put you into the water as they swim by; sometimes they get curious and want to interact with you. It is an amazing experience.
4- Go for a Walk or Hike
Pretty much anywhere you go on San Miguel there is beautiful landscapes and nature that will not disappoint. You can stop nearly anywhere off a side road and take a walk. You can find many trails but we often wondered through fields, and off the beaten trail. Be careful up in the mountains the grass is often wet and slippery.
There are a few outfitters in the Azores now, surely none of them to disappoint. Walking, jumping, sliding, and repelling, down streams and waterfalls- what’s not to love? Just make sure you bring some dry clothes and a snack for afterwards. Below are some choices:
6- Thermal Baths
Thermal baths are all over the island warmed from the volcanoes, they are said to have healing properties from all the minerals. The most popular are found in Furnas where you can actually choose to visit the different baths based on the temperature you prefer. Just be sure to bring a dark bathing suit or one you don’t care about as the water is very high in iron and will get stained.
7- Terra Nostra Botanical Gardens in Furnas
The Terra Nostra gardens were one of the most unexpectedly enjoyable places we visited. It houses a massive collection of different kinds of plant life from all over the world- is truly remarkable. If you like photography, be prepared to spend the entire day. There is also a huge thermal bath here, so bring your swim suit if you are so inclined.
8- Eat Cozido
A traditional stew of different meats, sausages, and veggies cooked in volcanic holes with steam and boiling mud. While we didn’t necessarily love it. It is something you should try while you are in Furnas.
9- Hotel Monte Place (Abandoned Hotel)
This hotel was one of the coolest things we stumbled across while on our trip. It was once a very prestigious 5-star hotel completed in the 80’s. The hotel sits on top of a hill overlooking the Lagoa Azul (see #1) the twin lakes that are different colours. If you can make your way up to the roof the views will not disappoint. Look around carefully and imagine what it would have been like to stay here in its glory days. Be careful when walking around because the hotel is in various degrees of disrepair.
10- Ribeira Grande Beach
There is something for everyone at this beach; enjoy the black volcanic sand, swim, surf (you can rent boards or take a lesson very reasonably from http://azoressurfcenter.com/), watch the pro’s catching a wave, grab a bite to eat, or have a drink at Tukátulá Bar. This place has some of the best, and cheapest food I’ve had in years. The food is fresh, delicious, healthy, and generally under 5 euros for lunch. The best part- you are right on the beach so you can’t beat the views.
Did I miss any must do’s for San Miguel? What do you like to do in the Azores? Leave a comment below and let me know!