Heaven is a Place Called Azores – Portugal Travel
With its splendid views, riveting nature experiences and multitude of small-town delights, the Azores embody the word “captivating”.
The Azores islands are one of the world’s best-kept secrets. Located miles off the coast of Portugal, the Azores are a nature-filled wonder. Designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, the Azores nine islands offer some of the most incredible sights on the planet. With sparking blue waters, picturesque landscapes and a bevy of activities for the nature lover in you — ranging from hiking to rappelling into caverns, bathing in hot spring, and sunbathing on gorgeous beaches — the Azores islands are the vacation destination of your dreams. City Life had the pleasure of travelling to the Azores and experiencing the wonders first hand.
Being fans of hiking, we made visiting trails a priority of the trip. As we proceeded through the lush green mountains of São Miguel, the pitter-patter of streaming water grew louder. The babble of the cascading waterfall Caldeira Velha permeated the damp, warm draft surrounding us. At the base of the Caldeira Velha was a small pool of water with stone-crafted stairs leading up. It looked like something out of a movie. The Caldeira Velha was gorgeous, peaceful and wonderfully natural. This was the first of many incredible experiences we would have in the Azores.
The awe-inspiring glory of nature simply overwhelms you in the Azores. With so many activities to choose from, it was hard to decide what to do. Should we spend a day on one of the many beautiful beaches relaxing? Or should we do something more adventurous? We started with the latter.
The next day, we travelled to the island of Pico for an early-morning whale-watching trip. At the harbour, a cold, crisp air woke us up fully. A small rubber boat was our vessel, with seats we sat astride like we were riding horses. We set out in the bluest water I had ever seen, with a picturesque mountain landscape in sight. Low clouds spackled the skyline in the distance, looking like artificial snow wrapped around a Christmas tree. There was no guarantee that we would see anything.
Almost immediately, a pod of curious dolphins surrounded our boat. The sleek, playful creatures performed as if they knew we were there for them, jumping in and out of the water and swimming close to the boat so we could see them. I’ve been to Marineland and the zoo, but this was something else, something unique. Seeing these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat was nothing short of spectacular. That is perhaps the best way to describe the Azores: spectacular.
Next we went to Casa Ancora. This fine-dining experience was delightful. I had a lovely meal of chicken and avocado bruschetta that was equal parts savoury and sweet and transported my palate. This was paired with an amazing glass of local wine, which Pino is known for.
Not willing to miss out on the Azores’ famed beaches, we visited a number of them, including the captivating beach in Praia da Vitoria. The sun gently engulfed me with its light as I took my shoes off and walked barefoot into the warm ocean. The boardwalk parallel to the beach had a sign that said, “I love Azores.” The same thought crossed my mind.
One-of-a-kind experiences and great food are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the Azores has to offer. The small-town feel follows you everywhere you go. It’s homey, friendly and incredibly inviting. Whether you want to explore nature, enjoy the beach, or visit small towns, the Azores has something for everyone.