Only a couple of years ago, the Azores started appearing in a few publications and articles with titles like, “Europe’s best kept secret” and “remote islands that nobody is aware of”. Many folks, particularly North Americans, couldn’t show where this archipelago was on a map. Except for those in the know, the thought of a group of volcanic islands within the middle of the Atlantic with a subtropical climate and European twist is sort of intriguing. In recent years, they have been billed as the hot new adventure vacay destination, providing an inordinate amount of exciting ways in which to explore the diverse islands and their culture.
There aren’t that many tourists, yet!
Although the Azores have been a destination for Portuguese and other Europeans for years, they really are comparatively unknown to the remainder of the globe. Whereas tourism is growing, and the government is actively promoting these emerald isles within the middle of the Atlantic to the international travel community, there are still fairly few travelers. Head there soon before a lot of folks become wise to the beguiling beauty and endless adventures.
There are several direct flights
The Azores are easy to get to and fairly well connected considering they’re pretty remote by any other standards. There are direct flights from the east and west coasts of North America, in addition to many European cities. From North America, they’re a simple stopover on the way to or from mainland Portugal, and from mainland Portugal, it’s a fast jaunt to increase your trip for a little bit. Despite this, they feel a world apart. Technically, you’re in Portugal, however it really doesn’t seem to be. In fact, Azoreans self-describe themselves as Azorean before saying they are Portuguese, if they ever do.
The volcanic landscapes will take your breath away
Visual reminders of the force of nature, from the numerous volcanic cones dotting the rural area, to the deep groves where lava once flowed and where lush vegetation now grows within the rich soil, to turquoise lakes and hot springs filling calderas which are collapsed volcano cones. Not to mention, you’re nearly never without a view of the ocean. You’ll be able to even hike up Mount Pico, a dormant volcano which is also the highest point in Portugal. The Azores are a combination of Hawaii and Old-World Europe, with a splash of the English countryside with lots of cows and grassy expanses.
The cuisine is superb
If you’ve never had octopus, wait until you get to the Azores. Typically braised in garlic and olive oil, it’s tender and mild, and simply delicious. The cheeses are unimaginable, and every island has their own traditional selection. The vineyards on Pico Island, nicknamed “the Island of Wine”, are a UNESCO World Heritage site for their distinctive growing methods as they don’t grow on conventional trellises but in bunches protected by grids of rock walls. Also, the Azorean pineapple is just the best you’ll ever have.
The marine life is unimaginable
It’s a migratory “superhighway” for whales, dolphins, and porpoises which are collectively referred to as cetaceans. Traditionally, whaling was the main trade within the islands as they’re on the migration paths for twenty seven different species of cetaceans. However, the government is currently working to safeguard these wonderful creatures with over sixty marine protected areas. However, with the oceans warming, the whales and their cousins might find other waters to swim in otherwise they may not survive either way.