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The Natural Wonders of São Miguel | The Green Island of the Azores

The Azores are possibly one of Europe's best-kept secret. With dramatic landscapes, rugged coastlines, black sand beaches for miles, steaming hot springs and numerous lakes dotting the island, São Miguel has a lot of natural wonders to explore and enjoy. The island of São Miguel is like a magical garden with sublime views at every bend and corner.

Stunning Coastlines


The coastline of São Miguel is breathtaking. Whichever part of the island you travel to, the cliffs are simply marvellous. Some of the viewpoints from where you get excellent views of the cliffs are: Ponta da Cintrao (in Ribeira Grande), Miradouro de Santa Iria (in Ribeira Grande), Miraduoro da Ponto do Sossego (in Nordeste), Miradouro do Pelado (in Lomba da Fazenda) and Miradouro da Ponta do Escalvado (in Mosteiros) to name a few.

Ponta da Cintrao, Ribeira Grande

Ponta da Cintrao, Ribeira Grande

Miradouro de Santa Iria, Ribeira Grande

Miradouro de Santa Iria, Ribeira Grande

Islet off Vila Franco do Campo

Stunning views of the cliffs at Islet of Vila Franco do Campo. We saw these up close during our whale watching trip with Terra Azul.

Islet off Vila Franco do Campo

Stunning views of the cliffs at the Islet of Vila Franco do Campo

Miraduoro da Ponto do Sossego

Miraduoro da Ponto do Sossego

Beautiful Beaches


There are many popular beaches in São Miguel - from the Milícias Beach (also known as Praia Grande) located a few kilometres from the city of Ponta Delgada to the very beautiful Vinha D'Areia beach in Vila Franca do Campo and from the scenic and rugged beaches of Mosteiros to the beaches popular as surfing spots (the ones in Rabo de Peixe and Santa Iria). Our favourites were -

Areal de Santa Bárbara, Ribeira Grande: Located in Ribeira Grande, the Santa Bárbara beach is one of the most extensive and popular beaches in this part of São Miguel. The beach is a prime leisure spot where surfers gather and there is a great beach bar as well. Ample parking space is available. The waves here were huge and while swimming may not be possible always, the beach is great for surfers. We loved the beach - dark sand, water in a beautiful shade of deep blue, huge waves and overall a really good atmosphere.

Areal de Santa Bárbara, Ribeira Grande

Areal de Santa Bárbara, Ribeira Grande

Areal de Santa Bárbara, Ribeira Grande

Areal de Santa Bárbara, Ribeira Grande

Areal de Santa Bárbara, Ribeira Grande

Areal de Santa Bárbara, Ribeira Grande

Monte Verde Beach, Ribeira Grande: Another lovely beach located in Ribeira Grande, the Monte Verde beach hosts the  Monte Verde Music Festival annually. The beach is also sought after by kitesurfers and those into bodyboarding and surfing. While we did not indulge in any adventure sports, we did enjoy relaxing on this beach taking in the beauty of the waves.

Monte Verde Beach, Ribeira Grande

Monte Verde Beach, Ribeira Grande

Monte Verde Beach, Ribeira Grande

Monte Verde Beach, Ribeira Grande

Mosteiros Beach: A very popular black sand beach located in the west of São Miguel, the Mosteiros beach is a nice place to swim when the weather is calm. When the weather isn't good and the waves are strong and huge you can move to the rocky site and enjoy that part of the landscape. We liked this beach as well. The huge waves pounding against the lava shore and the dark ocean formations jutting out of the water made the whole experience very mesmerising. The lava rocks have created a number of natural small pools, some even filled with warm water! Overall, it is a lovely beach with considerable rocky shores and beautiful scenic views.

Mosteiros Beach

Mosteiros Beach

Mosteiros Beach

Mosteiros Beach


Picturesque Lakes

For those enamoured with water bodies, São Miguel has no shortage of picturesque lakes. My top twp picks would be Lagoa do Fogo and the twin lakes of Sete Cidades. Lagoa do Fogo is the largest of the lakes in the Azores and very popular with tourists too. You can approach the lake from different routes and the views are stunning from all directions.

Lagoa do Fogo

Lagoa do Fogo

Lagoa do Fogo

Lagoa do Fogo

The twin lakes of Sete Cidades are equally popular with visitors especially because of the distinct blue and green colours of the two lakes. According to a local legend, the lakes were formed from the tears of a princess and a shepherd who shared a forbidden love. The view of the lakes from the various viewpoints was stunning. After enjoying the views from the top, we drove down to the village and walked along one of the lakes. It was beautiful.

The twin lakes of Sete Cidades

The twin lakes of Sete Cidades

The twin lakes of Sete Cidades

The twin lakes of Sete Cidades

Also worth mention are a few other lakes - Lagoa do Canario (one of the most photographed locations in the Azores - offers an amazing view if you are lucky enough to go on a day without fog), Lagoa de Sao Bras, Lagoa de Santiago and Lagoa das Furnas.

Geysers


Furnas, one of the popular villages of São Miguel, is known for its geothermal activity. There are a number of complexes of geothermal springs (mini-geysers) scattered all over the town. The boiling water gushing out of the ground (Caldeiras das Furnas) reminds you that you are on a volcanic island. There are some areas where you can even drink the mineral water - that is if you can ignore the taste and smell. In fact, the whole area around the geysers has a very strong smell of Sulphur. We just enjoyed seeing the vents of steam and bubbling water coming out of the ground. It was wonderful.

Geysers at Caldeiras das Furnas

Caldeiras das Furnas

Geysers at Caldeiras das Furnas
Caldeiras das Furnas

Geysers at Caldeiras das Furnas

Caldeiras das Furnas

Thermal Springs/Pools

Another of the many popular activities for visitors to the Azores are the hot spring pools where one can enjoy a mineral-enriched bath. And we did that at Terra Nostra - a picturesque park and botanical garden dating back to the 1700s and widely known for its thermal baths. The park itself is very beautiful with a wide range of plants from most continents and then a dip in the thermal pool adds to the overall experience. The pool is around 40 degrees (pleasantly warm and very relaxing) but it does stain light coloured costumes - so avoid wearing a light coloured bathing suit.

Terra Nostra Thermal Pool

Terra Nostra Thermal Pool

Terra Nostra Thermal Pool
Terra Nostra Thermal Pool

Waterfalls


As you must have realised by now, the Azores is a paradise for lovers of natural beauty. And included in the list is yet another beautiful creation of nature - Waterfalls. There are a number of waterfalls on São Miguel - Cascata das Lombadas, Salto do Cabrito (Ribeira Grande), the ones at Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes, Cascata Porto Formoso and the Caldeira Velha waterfall to name a few.

Waterfall at Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes

Waterfall at Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes

These were some of the natural wonders that we enjoyed exploring and experiencing in São Miguel. Have you been to the Azores? Do share your experiences in the comments section below.

16 comments:

  1. My husband and I would love to visit the Azores one day for the enchanting landscape! It must be nice to go somewhere still practically untainted from tourists! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!
    (www.caliglobetrotter.com)

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    1. The Azores landscape is beautiful, Lori. And the best part is that there is no mass tourism (yet).

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  2. Have been reading a lot about the Azores lately on travel blogs so it does seem to be increasingly on the travel radar! As an avid lover of the outdoors, this sounds like the perfect destination for me. So much water!! Why is the thermal pool water yellow, though?!

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    1. Yes, it is a paradise for lovers of nature and the outdoors. The yellow colour of the water (in the thermal pool) is due to the increased Iron content. It is good for the skin not so much for the swimwear :)

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  3. Wow - you're right, that's breathtaking! The Azores have long been on our "bucket list," so we're glad to learn (and see) more about this paradise! Thanks for sharing with us on #TheWeeklyPostcard!

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  4. I have been reading more and more about the Azores so I wonder how long it will stay a hidden gem. It just looks lovely. I better get myself there soon. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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    1. Yes, it won't stay secret for long, so better to get exploring now :)

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  5. I´m in love with your photos! I´ve heard of the Azores, but never realized this place would be that beautiful! Thanks for sharing! Happy New Year! #theweeklypostcard

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    1. Thank you, Anna. The Azores is stunning. We loved the time we spent there.

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  6. What an incredible and varied spot. Not usually one for a typical beach vacation, because I'd rather explore, but there's so much to do on that island! Your photos are lovely, as well.

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    1. Thank you!
      And yes, the landscape of the Azores is incredibly diverse. And it is protected from mass tourism to a certain extent.

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  7. I've heard about the Azores, but didn't realize it's quite so beautiful. I should definitely add this to my list of places to visit in Europe.Thank you for sharing this on #TheWeeklhPostcard

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Anda. Have a wonderful 2018.

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  8. Wow a great variety of natural attractions in Sao Miguel.

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  9. I had not heard of Azores. It looks beautiful, such a varied landscape. Must show this to my husband.

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