Quick July 4th long weekend to the Azores! I've had these islands on my radar for awhile now- they are affordable, easy to get to from the east coast (5hr flight out of Newark to Ponta Delgada), full of beautiful natural wonders like hot springs, abundant flowers, calderas; good hiking, good swimming- what is not to like! It's also super easy to get around and see almost the entire island in just a few days- definitely rent a car and go explore!
Octant Hotel: we stayed here right in the main port area of Ponta Delgada. Great location- right on the main street so walking around was very easy. We only ate at their restaurant for breakfast (buffet that was included with the room), but it looked legit for dinner as well. They also had a "whale watching" rooftop bar, with plenty of space for lounging, and a small pool (it was too cold to swim in for us). They also offered bikes, a gym, the staff was a little rough when making reservations or asking for help on anything- so if you stay just do the research and plan things yourself. Our room was super comfortable, nice view of the harbor.
La Tasca: the first night we went here for dinner. We didn't make a reservation so it took us about 2 hours of waiting to get in, however they did have a cafe with tables set up outside where we were able to get food and snacks while we waited. Very affordable, good food, the meal was worth the wait.
Calcada do Cais- pretty good cocktail bar (the caipirinhas were fab), with good food for dinner. Also in the main town of Ponta Delgada. The food did take a long time so just get ready to sit back and relax.
Mariserra- about a 20 min walk from the hotel, more on the main drag closer to the water. Really good seafood- expensive comparitively speaking to the other places we ate at.
Casa Marisca- right behind the hotel. Very basic, not fancy, but served fresh seafood and offered cheap local wine. Another dinner experience that took a pretty long time but we were in no hurry. Also not as cheap as say La Tasca.
Sete Cuidades trail- top of the caldera- 7miles. Even if you just want to walk around here to check out the viewpoints, it's a must do for the scenery.
Lagoa de Fago- 7 miles. Hiked to the lake and looped back, pretty steep took about 3 hours but it was a great hike.
Faial de Terra- hiked to a waterfall- 1hr 10 min 2.6mile loop. We did not swim but that is an option!
Furnas Lake to the town of Furnas and back- 7mi 2hr 45mins. The lake walk is nice, Furnas is a cool town with lots of hot springs you can pay to check out. We did not- just wanted to see what the deal was. But if you want a multiple hot springs experience this is the place.
The ocean was cold but worth it! Being an island, there are a ton of swimming spots all over Sao Miguel.
Mosteiros (west coast area): Very cool area with blank sand beaches, rock formations, and natural pools to swim in. The little town was also super cute- we had lunch at the beer garden Pe da Areia by a few parking spots.
Termas de Ferraria (west coast area): You can either go to the built up, formal spa building with pool and facilities, or just park and walk down the path to the ocean which has a hot springs natural pool area. Wild swimming in both hot and cold water!
Boca de Riberia pools (east coast area): Carved out of the mountain, we drove all the way down to this dug out pool filled with salt water from the ocean. The waves would just crash right in.
Piscinas Naturales Lagoa (south coast area): Another great swimming spot, this was just the ocean, somewhat sheltered by rocks, with diving boards, ladders, and other fun ways to jump into the ocean. Also had some regular in ground pools as an option if you didn't want to deal with the waves.
Caldeira Velha: Not really swimming per say, just bathing in natural hot springs. Make a reservation online, walk ins fill up quick. It had several different pools for relaxing, also a small waterfall, and also had facilities on site. In a beautiful setting right in the middle of the island.
The island of Sao Miguel was a really unique getaway. They advertise it as the Hawaii of the Atlantic- and they share many similarities. I hope to check out some of the other islands in the Azores at some point!
To see my photos of the trip please check them out on instagram @everydayvacays!