A spectacularly hidden paradise of brimming splendors, Azores Islands is downright breathtaking. To define such is scant, a rather understatement for an indescribably stunning place. Comparably enough, Azores Islands is basically heaven on earth. The Azores is one of Portugal’s two autonomous regions, with Madeira, an equally striking place, as the other one. Located in west of Lisbon, Portugal, it is an archipelago of sprawling lakes, grasslands, waterfalls, volcanoes, oceans and a strategic position for mid-ocean refueling and international shipping.
Molded through seismic and volcanic activities during the Neogene Period, the enchanting allure of Azores tenders nine breathtaking islands. From the west, resides Flores and Corvo Islands; San Miguel and Santa Maria Islands from the east; Graciosa, Terceira, Pico, Faial and Sao Jorge Islands on the central part. Travellers are often left open-mouthed by these nature’s works of art. From all these selections, who wouldn’t get wonderstruck?
Terceira Island or ‘The Lilac Isle’ is a touch of gorgeous natural views and awe-inspiring architecture of buildings and monuments. This island never runs out of panoramic scenery. Take a walk and be mesmerized inside an extinct volcano in Algar do Carvão, an ancient volcanic vent. In Serra do Cume, you can gaze through the island’s captivating view of lush landscapes and countryside. Enjoy the spectacular scene of waves crashing against the coastline of Biscoitos or explore the sultry Biscoitos Wine Museum. Head on to some rope adventures, visit colorful and impressive churches, or eat with the locals in QB Restaurant for a memorable dining experience. Branded as Azores’ Island of Never-ending Festivals, Terciera offers a festival of colour during the summer months. Experience the Carnival, The Sanjoaninas or the Praia Festival, which includes concerts, bullfighting, and cuisine fairs.
Santa Maria Island
Measuring 97.4 square kilometers and situated in the eastern part of the Azores archipelago, Santa Maria is the oldest among all islands. Also known as the ‘Sunshine Island’, it’s a booming attraction of white sand beaches, river valleys, chimneys, hills and mountains, dry plains, and pasture lands. It is divided into five parishes, where locals and travellers can enjoy wholesome nature activities such as hiking, sailing, sport-fishing, rabbit hunting, scuba-diving and more. Santa Maria Island is also famous for its handicraft industry centering on ceramics, blankets, potter, baskets, homespun garments and other embroideries. Aside from that, it offers splendid delicacies including rockmelons, vinho de cheiro, the symbolic Sopas do Império, as well as jubilant festivals like July Blues Festival, Feasts of Espirito Santo.
Sao Miguel Island
Locally referred as ‘The Green Island’, Sao Miguel Island is abundant in natural wonders. With its tropical jungles, mountainous landscapes, deep ravines and overwhelming aquatic attractions— the island is an endless tourist destination. Occupying an extent of 760 square kilometers, it is the largest island of the Azores archipelago. Ponta Delgada, the largest city in the archipelago is rich in history and architectural heritage. It showcases the Portas da cidade or the City Gates, an iconic monument and a great point to begin your adventure. Sightseeing whales, dolphins and getting in contact with the sea is best in Vila Franca do Campo Marinas and Ponta Delgada. Travellers can take a visit in Gruta do Carvão (Coal Cave), an underground realm of the island or go bird-watching in Serra da Tronqueira.
A perfect location for sea adventure, Graciosa is a grandeur island for fishing, diving, kayaking, windsurfing and many other exciting activities. Swim along the waters of Carapacho Spa, sunbathe on the seas of Praia, Barro Vermelho and Calheta or row along the bays of Santa Cruz. Furna do Enxofre, a high volcanic cave is an unforgettable underground experience.The peculiar beauty of the island includes 20 windmills, which gave the island the nickname ‘breadbasket of the Azores’. Be at awe with the remarkable Santa Cruz and Guadalupe church, the fascinating Porto Afonso, and the iconic lighthouses of Carapacho and Ponta da Barca.
Pico Island or also tagged as ‘the mountain and sea island’ of Azores is abounding in natural gems. One is the Gruta Das Torres, the world’s longest lava tubes and the Montanha Do Pico, which is classified as a natural reserve. Mistérios de São João is also a great pick for travellers, as well as the Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While savoring the island’s beauty, journey through the Whaling Industry Museum, Museo dos Baleeiros and the Maritime and Naval Construction Museum.
Called as the ‘Blue Island’, travellers can sight Caldeira, a nature reserve which blooms several endemic flora species in the fascinating island of Faial. Tour around the world famous Peter Cafe Sport or head on to Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Centre (CIVC) for a more informative travel about volcanic eruptions. Don’t miss the Fábrica da Baleia de Porto Pim for a trip around the museum of whaling machinery. In Faial Island, you get the chance to witness Marina of Horta, the main recreational harbour of the Azores archipelago, which is speckled with colored blue houses, gratifying hydrangeas and picture-perfect landscapes.
Sao Jorge Island
One of Azore’s friendliest islands, Sao Jorge is oozing with picturesque views. Lagoa da Fajã de Santo Cristo is a special ecological area that significant for surfing and body boarding. The highest mountain of the island, Pico da Esperança, offers a sweeping view of the other central group islands. Aside from that, Fajã da Caldeira de Santo Cristo Interpretation Centre (CIFCSC) is a building for travellers to drop by for a biological, geographical history of the Fajãs de São Jorge.
Named as UNESCO’s world biosphere reserve, Corvo is the smallest of all islands. Nevertheless, it booms in several tourist escapades. A paradise for birdwatching, it is a special abode for migratory birds, shear waters, terns, and wood pigeons. Explore the island while diving along the Caneiro dos Meros or take a boat trip around Baixa do Buraco and Gamela. Take a stop at the 300-metre deep crater of the Caldeirao Lookout where you can witness the layout of Azores’ nine islands.
This island is a must-see destination for every travel enthusiast because it’s probably one of the most jaw-dropping islands of the Azores. Flores island features an overflowing magnificence of nature— a captivatingly rugged seashore, a marvelous spectacle of rock formations, a gorgeous paradise of water bodies, and numerous dazzling landforms. Some of the island’s top and exquisite destinations include the Sete Lagoas, Fajã Grande, Fajãzinha, Ilhéu do Monchique, Fajã de Lopo Vaz, Cascata do Poço do Bacalhau, Gruta dos Enxaréus.