My wife and I visited the Azores in May/June of 2016 on the island of São Miguel and our opinion is based on our experience from this beautiful island. We were joined by Annemarie (American living in Galicia), Talia (American living in Lisbon) and Ramon (Catalan man). Please write us if you have a question about our trip!
#1. No One Knows About Them
This #1 Reason can just as easily be called “No Tourists”. Any time I tell someone about the Azores islands, it’s rare that they’ve heard of them and typically that person had no idea there were islands in the middle of the Atlantic. If you frequent travel websites, blogs and Instagram accounts, it’s rare you see much on the Azores. There’s a few reasons for this but this post isn’t called “7 Reasons Why People Don’t Visit the Azores”. That’s coming soon. Over ninety percent of our Azores experience was with the locals and it was very obvious we were new to the island.
#2. Sensory Overload
The vibrant colors make the islands look as if they are straight out of a painting. The foods are fresh from the earth and sea, it’s easy to see why they primarily ate fish and all kinds of oceanic creatures. The wines are beautifully decadent and are world renown within the vineyard community.
#3. The People are Friendly
This one can be debatable but I’d love to explain why I think that this is a true statement. While it was true that islanders STARED HARD while we explored the towns and in an opinion-sort-of way the same mean-muggers looked rough, I guarantee they would have gone out of their way to help us if we needed something. It ties back to Reason #1, Since no one has traveled there, these islanders rarely see outsiders. Especially 4 American looking people (2 blondes) and, well, a Spaniard that could fit right in if he tried. It was quite noticeable that people locked their eyes on us as we weaseled our way through the winding streets or browsed the grocery stores. One of the nights we were driving from the ornate town of Furnas to our AirBnB in Lagao, close to the port city of Ponta Delgada. We stopped in the extreme fog to check our GPS and a huge utility truck was driving by. The truck came to a halt, backed up and a man asked us something similar to “Necesitas ayuda?” as I recall but it was in Portuguese. The island just seemed to have a hospitable charm to it and it was quite evident throughout our trip, especially with our AirBnB host.
#4. The Architecture is Unique
The architecture was very similar to what one can imagine if they’ve been to Portugal and the infrastructure including streets was super interesting. The towns had tiny paths that allowed for only 1.5 to 2 cars to drive down so you can only imagine us throwing our rental into reverse to allow other’s passage. The architecture plays into this because the homes were designed with towering walls that flanked these roads complete with doors that opened right into the street. Basically if you hit a curb with your car, odds are you hit the side of the house with your mirror. This was true throughout most of the towns we drove through and the paths took FOREVER to navigate compared to the impressively maintained highway. I say maintained but some of it looked as if it was built in recent years. As for colors of the homes, there were a lot of white walls. A lot of black or brown wooden frames. And a lot of orange roofs. The churches were overwhelmingly beautiful and some homes resembled this design.
#5. There are Badass Volcanic Lakes
I don’t even know what to say about these lakes. They could very well be the most interesting, the most beautiful, the most breathtaking geographical features in the world. If someone wanted one reason to go to the Azores, this would be it. The deep greens remind you of a struggle in nature between reality and surrealism. The blues are literally reflecting the sky’s hues and in our case, it was overcast throughout our trip. That weather we experienced made for a great photographic opportunity and allowed us to see the Azores in its more common habitat. In the most simple words: These lakes are DOPE.
#6. So Many Outdoor Activities!
From hiking to sailing to canyoning, there are unlimited activities to fulfill your active little heart. Without going into a long story about food poisoning, most of our group went horseback riding and canyoning. The guides were all badasses and took care of us on the expeditions that each lasted several hours. Basically, you are doing some already cool activities in the most beautiful of places.
#7. It is SUPER Cheap
Wow. 2 Euros for good wine bottles. We feasted on seafood one night and it was incredibly cheap even with all of the rounds of beer we ordered. We dropped in on a hyper local bar in the middle of nowhere (I guess the whole island is in the middle of nowhere aka Reason #8) and they charged us 90 cents for 3 cups of coffee. What the heck, why is this place not visited more??
#8. It’s in the Middle of the Frickin’ Ocean!
It’s incredible how few islands there are in the middle of the Atlantic and the Azores hide well. This might feed into Reason #1 because they’re often overlooked or forgotten on a map. -JWB