Thursday 28 June 2012

Sao Miguel, Azores - The green island

A short visit to family in Lisbon, and soon I was on my way to Ponta Delgada, the capital of the Archipelago of the Azores, comprising of 9 islands.
I just visited the island of Sao Miguel, as this is the island where my husband was born and brought up until the age of 5, and where his youngest brother and his maternal uncles still live.
It had been 8 years since I last visited and I could see the changes in the city, in the way of new construction and new roads that have enhanced the island.
Maybe because they aren´t very well known and still not invaded by the tourists, the islands of the Azores are still very much a natural paradise.
(Note the Lagoons of Fire and Furnas in the centre of the island)
Ponta Delgada is the capital of the island of São Miguel, (the biggest island), with museums, monuments, streets with history, hotels, restaurants and shops. There is a newish marina with a variety of restaurants - "Portas do Mar" (sea doors), visited by sailing boats from Europe and America.
Portas do Mar - the marina in Ponta Delgada
There are lagoons surrounded by lots of greenery, valleys and mountains, country roads bordered by agapanthus and hydrangeas, basalt covered houses with green doors and window frames, and in some places the warm vapour of the old vulcanic craters remind you of the island´s vulcanic origin.  The beaches have black sand and the sea water is cold, so venture at your peril.

Lagoa do Fogo (Fire lagoon - a former crater)
Miradouro de Santa Iria (lookout)
Lagoa - Pools, church and village
Ribeira Grande - river and garden
The islanders are very religious and there are many processions and pilgrimages to the various Saints, especially during the summer months.

The islands traditional dishes are based on the fresh fish caught on the day (try the Tuna steak), the tender meat of the cows that graze on the green slopes, the Conventual desserts and the flavoursome pineapples the island exports.

Succulent Tuna Steak with boiled potatoes and Salad

The most tender and delicious steak I have eaten! It was only 1/2 dose but I couldn´t finish it.

Try also the delicious Passionfruit liquor and visit the only tea plantation in Europe - Gorreana Tea Factory - that produces about 40 tonnes of tea leaves. The black teas they produce are: Orange Pekoe, Broken Leaf and Pekoe, and the only green tea is: Hysson.

If you visit "Furnas", a town and lake in the east side of the island, the volcanic nature of the island is quite apparent. The "caldeiras" (hot springs) have for centuries been used to cook the "cozido (stew) using the steam coming out of the earth around the lake. Try the various mineral waters that flow from various fountains scattered around the town centre, each with a different taste. Sample also the corn boiled in the steaming pools and taste the sweet flat bread called "Bolos Lêvedos". Visit the Terra Nostra Park, a very lush botanic garden with tropical exotic species, as well as plants from cold climates.

The hot springs at Furnas - don´t touch the water, it is really boiling...
The lake at Furnas
At Furnas we went swimming at Dona Beija´s Pools, thermal pools with ferrous waters at a temperature of 30ºC. What a delight, the gardens and 3 small pools are very well cared for and the surroundings are beautiful.

Dona Beija Pools - you can see the ferrous water in the river

Dona Beija Pools - Furnas

If you enjoy sailing, diving, surfing, fishing, golf or tennis, there are plenty of opportunities for you to practice your sport.
Visit the craft shops and have a look at their handiwork  - miniatures made with fish scale or fig tree kernels, blue and white ceramics, hand loomed bedspreads, embroidered tablecloths and others in the traditional blue colours.

Visiting the Azores is to rediscover part of the original paradise. Where man and nature have joined hands to create eternal beauty.
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and feel that the islands have a lot to offer the tourists, things they cannot find anywhere else...and there is something different in all of the 9 islands.

Flowers made with fish scales
Miniature windmills made with fig tree kernels from:


  1. This is a gorgeous post Sami. I have long had it mind to visit the Azores. The natural beauty appears outstanding. I'm hoping that one day, if we get to live in the Algarve, we might visit from there.
    I've been to most of the Canaries and to Madeira, which I loved. I imagine they might not be dissimilar. The thermal pool looked wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is a gorgeous post, Sami. I've long had it in mind to visit the Azores- maybe one day if we ever manage to make the move to the Algarve. They remind me of Madeira, which I loved. The thermal pool looks completely wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi Joane, the Azores are not as well known as Madeira, nor as popular with the tourists, reason why it´s beauty is still so natural. The thermal pools were a big surprise, so pretty, and warm waters just like I enjoy!

  4. You make the place seem magical! I love natural hot springs (only been to one in Colorado, but Loved it). The fish scale flowers seen really interesting too.

  5. Hi Lovely light - I have only seen the fish scale miniatures in these islands, it´s an old art too.

  6. Hi Sami, I've just been catching up on your trip, sounds like you're having a marvelous time, wonderful images and information! Keep enjoying, are you away much longer?

  7. Hi Grace, I will be back in Perth next week Friday. I have been enjoying myself, seen a lot, had great weather...but time is just flying...

  8. The miniatures are so lovely!
    I hope one day to visit this Paradise! :-)

  9. Hi Sandra - the Azores are quite beautiful, I have been to 4 of the 9 islands, and all had interesting things to see. They are still very natural which is one of the attractions.

  10. BRILHANTE!!! Fotos, imformação...obrigada pela partilha. (Y)


  11. I recently took my family on a vacation to the Azores, and it was an incredible experience! The natural beauty of the islands is breathtaking, from lush green landscapes to stunning volcanic lakes. We enjoyed exploring charming villages, indulging in delicious local cuisine, and swimming in crystal-clear waters. The Azores Family Vacation a perfect mix of adventure and relaxation for everyone. Highly recommended for an unforgettable family getaway!


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