Here’s a few things we did with our time in Sao Miguel.
Sete Cidades Lake
Sete Cidades is a lake situated in the crater of a dormant volcano. This natural beauty is an absolute MUST SEE whilst you’re in the Azores. It’s located in the far west of Sao Miguel and it’s just breath taking. (the photos do not do it justice)
Although it looks like two separate lakes, it’s actually just one lake separated by a bridge.
Unfortunately when we arrived, the clouds had decided to descend on us. It may have hindered our view of the lake, but it sure made for some great photographs. We decided to park the car at the bottom near the bridge and walk around the bottom of the lake a little. Make sure you walk around and give yourself time to appreciate this beautiful place.
There’s actually a legend about the two lakes which refers to the two different colours. Apparently a Princess had fallen in love with a Shepard but was forbidden to see him by the King as he’d promised her to a Prince from a far away kingdom. The lovers snuck away to meet at the craters one last time, whilst embracing each other the princess became so upset her heart broke into two and she cried until one crater filled with tears, the tears were the colour of her beautiful eyes. As for the Shepard, he could not bare to see his Princess in so much pain that his heart broke too, filling the remaining crater with his own tears. Though the lovers were always apart after that fateful night, the two lakes are connected and will remain together for the rest of time.
Abandoned Monte Palace Hotel
The Monte Palace is situated right on top of the mountain overlooking the twin lakes of Sete Citades on St. Miguel island.
The Monte Palace was built in the 1980’s and was once a five star hotel. Unfortunately the hotel went bust due to the lack of tourism in Azores at the time. Perhaps it was just to ahead of it’s time? It was once heavily guarded to stop people looting the goods from inside, but as funding reduced they stopped tending to it. You’re now able to freely walk into the abandoned site.
Make sure to check out the view from the top of the hotel too!
We were going to check out the basement, but decided against it as dying on the first day would really put a downer on our trip. What? It gets seriously spooky down there!
DO BE CAREFUL OF THE LIFT SHAFTS WHEN YOU’RE THERE!
Faial de Terra/ Salto do Prego waterfall
If you’re feeling adventurous, be sure to check out the Salto do Prego hike!
You will have to navigate to Faial de Terra which is a small village located in the south east of Sao Miguel. You can park your car on the steep hill. If you walk to the top of the steep road you’ll come across the trail signs, be sure to follow to the right hand side and follow the stream to begin the trail. You will trek through dense and beautiful vegetation and you’ll pass a few mini waterfalls before reaching the HUGE Salto do Prego waterfall!
If you’re brave enough, you definitely have to take a dip!
To complete the trail, you will come across signs for Sanguinho. Sanguinho is a village that has been abandoned since the early 70’s and is now being restored. There are a few remaining houses that are still lived in. You really feel like you’re in a different era when hiking though the village.
Lastly you will come across some jaw dropping views overlooking Faial de Terra as you descend along the winding cobbled path.
Caldeira Velha is the ultimate place to enjoy Sao Miguels natural thermal baths. You park out on the mountain road before walking alongside the luscious trees and plants before coming to the first of the two pools.
Top tip, make sure to try the pool at the top of the hill first as it’s much cooler than the one at the bottom.
Right next to Lagoa das Furnas, you’ll find lots of unnecessary steam coming out the ground. This is another active volcano on Sao Miguel and the steam you see coming out the ground are from the Geysers. The locals here use the Geysers to cook food, a popular dish being the Cozido. This dish is made up of many meats and vegitables with a side dish of rice.
Don’t expect to be able to try the food at the springs, we made this foolish mistake! You have to venture into the village of Furnas and pick a restaurant! After driving past O Miroma about ten times trying to find somewhere to park, we knew where to go to try Just to note, most restaurants require a reservation for the Cozido dish, but they do make extras for the tourists who just turn up, so just ask!
Terra Nostra Park
Located in Furnas, the Terra Nostra Park is a 200 year old botanical garden, home to some incredibly beautiful trees and plants. Within the Park you will find a Thermal Water Pool, this water pool was built in 1780 by an American called Thomas Hickling. The pool is dominated by Yankee Hall which was the holiday house of Hickling.
Don’t take white towels, as the minerals in the water will stain them orange!
Make sure you take the time to roam the gardens!
Located in Sao Miguel, Ponta Delgada is the capital of the Azores. This is probably the busiest of all the towns in Sao Miguel. Apart from all the little high street shops, I really enjoyed walking along the marina. Within the marina, you’ll see the little drawings from all the sailors who have passed through.
Whilst we were in Ponta Delgada we managed to catch The Festa do Senhor Santo Cristo. This religious festival takes place on the fifth Sunday after Easter. Cars, Bikes, Fire Engines, Police Cars and pretty much anything remotely interesting would drive up and down the sea front. You’ll also notice the flower decorated streets where locals come out to pay their respects to those in the parade. It was a real special event to witness and be apart of!
Amazing fact; there are 80 Whale species on this planet and 21 of them can be found in the Azores. Up until 1984 whaling was huge part of the Azorean culture,thankfully only Whale watching takes place on the islands now.
There are a few companies you can book Whale/Dolphin watching tours in Ponta Delgada. We booked with Futurismo, purely because it was the first kiosk we came too, they seem to be the more established of all the tours. I cannot fault Futurismo at all, the biologists on board were great and they provided the tour in three languages! Although Futurismo were great, It may be worth shopping around for lower prices.
On our tour we managed to see two types of Dolphin species, a couple of Turtles, a Portuguese man o’war and finally a couple of WHALES!
I really enjoyed my time on the water, some say it’s one of the best ways to experience the Azores and I can definitely see why!
Visiting the Azores has truly been one of the most special experiences of my life and I urge you to visit this beautiful Archipelago, you will not be disappointed.
Thank-you for reading!