The Azores Islands
Situated in the middle of the Atlantic sit some of the most beautiful, magical islands I've ever heard of! The Azores Islands (part of Portugal) are volcanic and resemble Hawai'i in a lot of ways, yet are extremely different. Most of the beaches are black sand, the temperature is a little cooler, and the food is definitely not the same as Hawai'i! We spent all of our time on the main island of Sao Miguel but I'm already dying to go back and explore some of the others.
The islands are easy to get to and just a two hour flight from Lisbon, Portugal. Sao Miguel has good roads and there isn't public transportation so we rented a car for just $30 a day from Hertz! The food was all fairly cheap too, but we mostly stayed at hotels with small kitchens and ate from the grocery store. The main grocery store in Ponta Delgada was HUGE and had tons of options so don't worry about not being able to find what you need!
We bounced around a ton and although we did work with a couple of rad hotels, most of the places we stayed were pretty dumpy and cheap haha! If you use the hotels.com app there were lots of affordable options. Keep in mind "eco-friendly" probably means you will be required to do a lot of your own cleaning, cooking, composting, etc.
I'm only going to highlight the actual hotels + activities I recommend in this blog post - I'll spare you the details of the not so fun things we did.
The hotels we enjoyed staying at are:
White Exclusive Suites and Villas (Such a beautiful spot and peaceful hotel! Watching the sunset from an infinity pool over the Atlantic ocean was something else)
Furnas Lake Villas (They are family owned and literally THE nicest people ever! They really went out of their way to make our stay wonderful!)
The first hike we went on was Salto Do Prego! It reminded me SO much of Hawaii! On the way there you could see a black sand beach and a cliff side that kind of looked like Big Island. And the waterfall could easily fit in with the waterfalls here at home. It was just a bit chillier!
On the hike we got followed by the cutest, cuddliest wild cat. There were a few others at the falls but no one was jumping in, so it felt like we had it to ourselves!
After the hike we followed a different trail down and I'm so glad we did because it led us through the loveliest little village complete with red roofs, windy streets, tiny gardens, and some funny locals. I wished SO badly I spoke at least a bit of Portuguese because these people didn't speak any English at all. But they were super friendly and let me snap a few shots!
The next few days we stayed at the White Exclusive Suites & Villas which was a dream! The buildings are absolutely beautiful and it had such a cool vibe. I loved sitting in the pool and watching the sky change colors over the Atlantic.
We spent a few days exploring the west end of the island near Sete Cidades which is a small town situated next to four lakes formed by volcanic activity. It's unlike anything I've ever seen before! We didn't have any set plans so we just followed random hiking signed and drove around until we saw something cool. I feel like I could've spent weeks in this area and still not seen everything there is to see! It felt like a fairy tale with how green and covered in flowers it all was! I remember thinking over and over how I've never been anywhere like this. It was just so UNREAL.
We took a nap by the lake, hiked through a foggy forest, followed a random dirt path around the main lake, and visited the famous Miradouro da Boca do Inferno. The first time we tried to hike it, it was too foggy to see anything at all. The second time it was beautiful and sunny, but extremely crowded. I definitely recommend going early in the morning to beat the crowds!
An experience I'll never forget was sailing with Azoresail with some new friends! They were all so sweet and accommodating and the sunset was beautiful. I loved this experience because it's one of the only interactions we had with locals and you guys know how important that is to me.
Jorge brought out this rad instrument called a handpan and it made the coolest music! We basically all got hypnotized listening to the waves lap against the boat and watching the sun dip below the horizon.
If you are going to Sao Miguel I highly recommend booking with them! If you get lucky you might even see whales or dolphins.
Our last hotel stay was at the magical Furnas Lake Villas! Situated in the dreamy mountains next to (you guessed it) a lake felt like we had a world of our own. The owners are SO friendly and amazing and it is all family owned for generations. There are hydrangeas EVERYWHERE and cute little ducks and an amazing pool. I can't rave about this spot enough. We are so grateful to Maria and her sweet family for taking such good care of us!
Our last day we spent hiking around the Lagoa Do Fogo. When the sunlight hit the water it glowed bright blue! Even in the rain the hike was gorgeous. We just walked down to the beach and back up, but if you have more time I definitely recommend doing the whole thing.
It was so lush and green and there were so many plants I had never seen before.
Azores, you are a dream!
I already want to come back and explore all the other islands!
If you enjoyed this blog post let me know below, I love to hear from you and see what you think! Would you ever make a trip out to the Azores islands?!