Adventures in the Azores: exploring Europe's green paradise - BookitList

Adventures in the Azores: exploring Europe's green paradise

Seemingly lost, floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean somewhere between Europe and North America, the nine volcanic islands which make up the Portuguese Azores Archipelago are a green paradise, ideal for adventurers. Since moving to Portugal, they have quickly become my sanctuary from the modern world, a place where whales dance in waters, volcanic waters soothe in hot-springs, and epic hikes and water-bound adventures summon on all corners.

If you haven't heard of this little slice of paradise, then fear not; they have remained relatively unexplored - especially the outer islands - but here are five incredible experiences awaiting you when you finally discover the Azores for yourself.

Volcanic adventures

Signs of volcanic activity can be spotted across the archipelago - from the black sand beaches to the volcanic vineyards framed by black stone walls in Pico. Some of my favourite ways to experience this myself include heading into the underground Lava tubes in Pico, an otherworldly experience, or exploring the mars-like landscape of Capelinhos on Faial island, where dark dust replaces the greenery as this was one of the most recent eruptions that expanded the size of the island.

Discover the Geothermal activity

Of course, with volcanoes come a wonderland of warm waters, hot springs, and bubbling geysers - some of the geothermal activity and lakes on São Miguel reminding me of my visit to New Zealand. You'll also find plenty of outside spas and pools to take a dip in here, but the coolest for me is at the open-to-all Ponta da Ferraria, where you can dip in this natural ocean pool and feel the thermal waters warming below.

Whale watching and dolphin encounters

View this post on Instagram

Constituting a geo and nature park, all the islands of the Azores promise wonderful wildlife encounters - especially underwater. Head out on a boat tour to see whales (sperm, fin and sei can often be sighted) or opt for the incredible experience of swimming nearby dolphins in the wild responsibly. Companies like Futurisimo have the credentials to ensure you do this in a safe way that protects and respects the local wildlife.

Hike across epic vistas

Across the archipelago, the hiking opportunities are never-ending; whether you want to strap on your boots for a multi-day trek or take it easy on one of the short circular routes, you'll find your ideal trail on the Azores.

For some of the most scenic hiking routes, head to the island of São Jorge, where the volcanic peaks dramatically sink down to meet the ocean at fajãs (lava spills that have set in the sea). My personal favourite is the spellbinding Serra do Topo to Fajã dos Cubres trail, which takes you down through forest lined paths to the ocean, where remote villages of stone-walled houses remain. Another star of the show are the trails around Sete Cidades, the famed 'two colour' lakes on São Miguel - there are easy or hard trails to pick from, and with many of the best viewpoints being accessible by car, this island certainly is one of the easiest for beginner hikers to sink their teeth in to.

Surf or sunbathe?

View this post on Instagram

While the Azores aren't as famed for their beaches as the Spanish islands, there are some real gems to find here.

If you like your swell, then head to the north of São Miguel to ride the waves at Santa Bárbara, a favourite with locals and visitors that flock here from around the world.

Are you looking for more typical golden sands? Head to the most southerly island of Santa Maria, home to your more classic beaches than the dark volcanic sand found on other islands - the bonus is this is also the island with the best weather!

Follow My Adventures on Instagram

View this post on Instagram


More From Daniel James Clarke

New!Going to our contact form, to go to: Contact us!