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The Azores Vacations

The Azores at a Glance

An eco-tourist’s paradise! The Azores is an archipelago of nine unique islands located in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. They are approximately 1500 kms from the coast of Europe and 3900 kms from the North American coast and have a combined total population of less than 250,000.

Unfamiliar to many tourists, the Azores could be considered one Europe’s best-kept island secrets. In 2010 National Geographic Traveler Magazine voted the islands as one of the top two sustainable tourist destinations because of their strong culture and healthy eco-systems.

Not to be missed

The nine islands of the Azores are unusual, exceptional and absolutely awe-inspiring. Here is a brief overview of each island:

  • Sao Miguel is the largest and most populated of all the islands. It is home to the capital, Ponta Delgada, a small but cosmopolitan city. Sete Cidades twin lake is the biggest extinct volcano crater in the Azores.
  • Santa Maria is the third smallest island in the Azores. The village of Anjos is where Christopher Columbus first made landfall after his voyage to the Americas.
  • Terceira is the second most populated Azorean island. Visit the Algar do Carvao, renowned for its stunning grottoes that reach a depth of approximately 100 meters.
  • Graciosa is well-known for its unique islets, one being completely covered in vegetation and another shaped like a whale. Visit Carapacho, hot spring baths with medicinal waters.
  • Sao Jorge offers great views of the other islands from its highest peak, Pico da Esperanca, which soars 3455 feet above water.
  • Pico was named for its daunting mountain, and is actually the second largest of all the islands. Lajido, Cabrito and Madalena are all UNESCO-protected wine country.
  • Faial was changed forever when in 1957 Ilheu dos Capelinhos erupted. At Ponta dos Capilinhos you can see the results of the famous eruption.
  • Flores is the westernmost point of the Azores, and is listed on the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
  • Corvo is a volcanic island and the smallest in the archipelago. Visit the Caldeirao, the crater of the volcano that created the island.

Uniquely The Azores The bond between the sperm whale and the Azoreans is unique and complicated. While many islanders previously made a living from whaling, it has not been an active practice here since 1987. Today ‘Azorean whalers’ are people who are enthusiastic about sharing the beauty of the sperm whale with tourists. They use traditional whale finding tactics as a way to peacefully encounter these magnificent mammals. Whale lookouts can be found in strategic locations around the islands, but the best experience is in the water. Make sure to have your camera ready, as a whale sighting can happen fast.

Good to know about The Azores

  • Climate: With its unique location, the Azores enjoys a temperate maritime climate. Average temperature amongst all nine of the islands is 17°C.
  • City Transportation: Each island has a public bus network and water taxi service is available between most of the islands.
  • Accommodation: As varied as the islands themselves. Hotels, campsites, apartments and more are all available. See Azores Hotels for more details.
  • Eating Out: Each of the islands puts a slightly different spin on traditional Azorean cuisine. Fish stews, sweet loaf and malassadas (a type of sugar donut) are all highly recommended.

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