The Azores: Nine rocky islands with a past volcano and a magical gift

(CNN) – Going to paradise on Earth does not have to be a long, hard or difficult journey.

In fact, it was five hours from Boston from a land that had not been trained according to history. It is a land where waterfalls flow on green cliffs; where the streets are covered with hydrangea walls; and where the cliffs are covered with black sandy beaches.

The good of the lost is winning, whether it is a village of stone houses lined with winding roads, or the people who are still adhering to the old ways of planting plants in fertile plains at the foot of the cliffs, or riding in horse -drawn carriages to deliver milk to the saltworks.

Welcome to the Azores, a crown of nine fascinating islands that span the heart of the Atlantic but are part of Portugal. The archipelago is an independent island about 1,000 miles from Portugal. The islands ’hot lakes, lush caldera, crater lakes and geysers show the vicious volcanic forces that gave birth to them, but each island has a different style where the style wins. of his state.

Azores Airlines does not fly to Ponta Delgada on São Miguel Island from Boston, and to Lajes in Terceira with a holiday in Ponta Delgada all year round. United (from Newark) and Azores Airlines (from JFK, on ​​designated days) both have free summer service in Ponta Delgada. British Airways will offer summer service on Saturday.

After navigating directly to an archipelago as if it were another planet, here’s what to consider about each island:

WEST ISLAND

Flores

Flores is the westernmost island of the Azores. Although its name translates to “flowers,” it is the many bodies of water that best describe this dreaded emerald green island that is often shrouded in mist.

Seven volcanic lakes glide inside, such as the lush Lagoa Negra forest that sits right next to the Cobalt blue Lagoa Comprida, with a miradouro neatly arranged between them.

The Lagoa Negra side, south, and Lagoa Comprida make for an amazing view in Flores.

The Lagoa Negra side, south, and Lagoa Comprida make for an amazing view in Flores.

Javarman / Adobe Stock

Amidst the island’s green cliffs dripping with waterfalls, the mighty Poco do Bacalhau flows down 300 feet into a small swimming pool.

Visitors staying in Aldeia da Cuada, an air -conditioned residence of stone houses furnished with antiques and patchwork quilts, will enjoy watching the waterfalls plummeting across the countryside. their backs. This sacred place embraces the simple pleasures of life, including gazing at the stars from a private garden.

O Corvo

With less than 500 people and one isolated town on the coast, Corvo is the smallest (and farthest) Azorean island, four miles long and not three miles wide. .

Bird watching is a popular activity in small Corvo.

Bird watching is a popular activity in small Corvo.

Jakub / Adobe Stock

However, this wee island (remnant of an ancient volcano about 10 miles north of Flores) is a popular paradise for bird watchers, who draw here in the fall. with the intention of seeing yellow cuckoos, Cory skins and many other species. .

MOKU WAENA

Faial

For hundreds of years, cruise ships have made the great harbor of Horta – famous for its boldly painted beaches – a haven, with sailors between the New and Old Worlds in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Holding on to their boats, many skippers and sailors now regularly drop by the nearby Peter Cafe Sport, a more than 100 -year -old building where nautical memorabilia are attached to inner comfort. Their scrimshaw museum, dedicated to the art of carving and engraving whale teeth and bones, dates back to the late 1800s.
Border roads of hydrangeas on the way to the west side of Faial.

Border roads of hydrangeas on the way to the west side of Faial.

Schlierner / Adobe Stock

The large squares of hydrangeas-blue border streets and theaters along the way to the western end of the island. This lonely, monochromatic place is very different from the trembling Horta.

The entire building was buried in coal-black ash and other volcanic material that had erupted years ago from a long eruption under the ocean. The Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Center has exhibits that tell the stories of this and other volcanoes.

Pico

The Mt. Pico, the highest peak in Portugal, is the most dominant island on the island.

Mount Pico is the highest peak in Portugal at 7,713 feet (2,351 meters).

Mount Pico is the highest peak in Portugal at 7,713 feet (2,351 meters).

rvdschoot / Adobe Stock

Here, everything seems to be made of black basalt stone, with a mosaic of walls surrounding the vines of the land that cleans and protects them from storms and winds. salt of the island for centuries.

It is the rich volcanic soil and mineral that puts Pico on the list of true oenophiles. Cooperativa Vitivinicola, a wine company for more than 70 years in Madalena, the capital of the island, offers unparalleled flavors that include verdelho, a white wine made from related grapes. measuring this island.
As close to the Pico area, the lodge like the village of Lava Homes relied on stone and lumber to build its 14, large-windowed, contemporary villas.

São Jorge

The slopes through the land of wild heather and Japanese cedar are beautiful trails that end in fajãs, or lush plains supported by cliffs made from sloping land and ancient volcanoes.

Fajã de Santo Cristo is one of the most deceptive, taking its six -mile walk down from the cloud -covered peak of Serra de Topo. The path goes through the old water pipes and the gates of the neck branches to the detached Fajã de Santo Cristo. Here the villagers tended gardens growing sweet potatoes, cabbage, spinach and tomatoes.

Fajã da Caldeira de Santo Cristo is a fertile plateau at the base of a cliff.

Fajã da Caldeira de Santo Cristo is a fertile plateau at the base of a cliff.

DanitaDelimont.com/Adobe Stock

This beach welcomes surfers who come to surf. The island, however, is best known for a gourmet food: their cow’s milk.

Queijo São Jorge has been around for centuries. This fine salt – which can be drunk with honey – is served not only in restaurants in São Jorge (like Fornos de Lava) but in other Azorean islands and in Portugal as well.

Graciosa

Many of the tourist attractions in Graciosa provide an important education on the origin of the island’s volcano.

About 200 steps climb down to Furna do Enxofre, a powerful volcanic eruption. It is alarming to see that before this ladder was built, the villagers had humbled themselves with ropes to get drinking water for their cattle.
Furna Do Enxofre on the island of Graciosa is a volcanic eruption.

Furna Do Enxofre on the island of Graciosa is a volcanic eruption.

Stefano / Adobe Stock

The information below is true. Unlike the lake at the base which is filled with cold water, the air of the cave is filled with the smell of sulfur, and the muddy fumaroles swell and boil at 180 F (82 C). Sunlight shines through the oculi on the ceiling, revealing yellow crystals glittering on the rock cliffs.

In the spa village of Carapacho, geothermal energy is used to heat the lakes at Termas do Carapacho resort, offering a wide range of treatments, including a hot stone massage that relies on the island’s volcanic rocks. .

Terceira

While Pico’s black basalt gives that island the appearance of black and white brushes, Terceira uses in many ways a Crayola pencil case.

The moving facades in front of the streets of the capital, Angra do Heroismo, are painted with vibrant – albeit violet -hued – imperio (churches), sprinkled with green land.
Angra do Heroismo, a UNESCO world heritage site, features beautiful painted historical buildings.

Angra do Heroismo, a UNESCO world heritage site, features beautiful painted historical buildings.

Jose A. Bernat Bacete / Moment RF / Getty Images

To the north, the village of Biscoitos shows its volcanic origin with natural lakes of all sizes and depths capturing the hard black lava that flows into the harbor. In addition to these, beach towels, umbrellas and lours can be arranged for a day of sun and water.

The city is home to the family -owned Wine Museum where the treasures from their more than 100 years of wine production are displayed within the gardens.
Terceira’s Caparica Azores Ecolodge offers six new cars parked in a laurel forest. Images from local women play into minimalist interiors.

EAST ISLAND

São Miguel

São Miguel is the largest Azorean province and is home to Ponta Delgada, the capital of the independent Azores. The island is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) long and 9 miles (15 km) wide.
Ponta Delgada is the capital of the independent country of the Azores.

Ponta Delgada is the capital of the independent country of the Azores.

daliu / Adobe Stock

It is home because it is said to be the world’s oldest pine -growing greenhouse and the oldest tea plantation in Europe.

Furnas Valley is one of the island’s most famous landscapes, a volcano covered with leaves and sprinkled with memories of its past volcanoes, inviting hot springs.

In this valley, the Terra Nostra Garden is centuries old. The sheltered paths along the snake river, grottoes and endemic and exotic plants, are more than a hundred years old.

The 18-hole Furnas Golf Club sits at 1,700 feet above sea level.

In Ponta Delgada, visitors staying at the Senhora da Rosa store are a long way from the hustle and bustle of the city, especially when soaking in a small pool that is set up. in a pineapple green house.

Santa Maria

Santa Maria is the southernmost island in the Azores, boasting sunshine and golden sandy beaches.

Santa Maria is the southernmost island in the Azores, boasting sunshine and golden sandy beaches.

Klara Bakalarova / Adobe Stock

Santa Maria, the southernmost point of the Azores, is not only the sun of the islands, but the only one adorned with golden sandy beaches.

The greens and reds of the sea, sky and valleys combine at Miradouro da Pedra Rija, one of the many sights to create a beautiful picnic area. Japanese cedar forests line zig-zagging paths, sometimes along paths bordered by Azorean blueberries and small orchids.

The hamlet of São Lourenco is famous in the summer for its photogenic sandy location supported by a cluster of ancient vineyards enclosed by black lava rock walls.

The charming seaside village of Anjos has calm and natural waters, and the local fountain Bar dos Anjos offers beautiful views of the sunset to enjoy while eating grilled limpets. (sea snails).

Jeanine Barone is a New York City travel writer who is based in Portugal and has frequently visited the Azores.

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