The Azores are a collection of 9 islands in the Atlantic Ocean, 948 miles from the coast of Portugal. These gorgeous islands are under 5 hours from the east coast of the United States. The Azores are often compared to the natural beauty of Hawaii and Iceland. Each island has its own unique characteristics. Experience the magnificent volcanic lakes, hot thermal waters and vineyards planted in black lava fields. It is impossible to see all of the islands in one trip, so we will focus on Sao Miguel and Terceira Islands.
Sustainable Tourism in the Azores
While the Azores are starting to become a hot spot for European travelers, they are still considered a well-kept secret. They have become well known, however, for their sustainable tourism. In fact, they were selected by National Geographic as the 2nd best islands in the world for sustainable tourism. The Global Sustainable Tourism Council recently held their 2019 Global Conference in the Azores. As sustainable travelers, we will all do our part to help protect the islands while we are there. We will keep paper usage to a minimum at the villa, reusable lunch bags will be provided, travelers will bring a water bottle, etc.
The beauty of small-group travel is that our itinerary can be flexible (with the exception of days involving air travel). It allows for hiking enthusiasts to truly explore the island and for others to just soak in the beauty. It also allows for changing plans based on weather conditions, which can be rather unpredictable in the Azores. The itinerary will be finalized once we know who is traveling and what activities they are hoping to include. Until then, this is the itinerary we are starting with.
Activity level for this trip: Flexible - you decide how much activity you want, but you must be able to climb stairs, get in and out of a van or jeep, and walk up to a mile. The terrain may be rough at times so women with back problems should consult their physicians.
MONDAY/TUESDAY, JUNE 26-27
Those of us from the US will fly out on Monday evening, June 26th, for an overnight flight with an early morning arrival into Ponta Delgada. We will check-in to our "home" for the next 5 nights where you will have a chance to relax, sleep, adjust to the time change (4hrs), or explore the area on your own. Our home has a beautiful view of the ocean, with 5 bedrooms, 11 beds, and 4.5 baths. (Click here for more pictures.) We will then gather at home for a delicious Welcome Dinner, prepared by a local chef. (Meals: B,L,D)
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 28
Our day will begin with a relaxing breakfast at home at a reasonable hour (I promise, we will not rush you out the door at some ungodly hour.) We will then be picked up by one of the best local tour guides on Sao Miguel, starting around 10am. We will explore the west side of the island, the highlight of which will be visiting Lagoa das Sete Cidades, "Lagoon of the Seven Cities," twin lakes found in the crater of a dormant volcano. These lakes are so ecologically different that one appears green and the other blue. We'll also visit the city of Ribeira Grande, with its unique historical center dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
THURSDAY, JUNE 29
Today we visit the central part of the island with our tour guide, including the beautiful area of Lagoa do Fogo, a visit to a ceramics factory, and Caloura with it's famous lakes, waterfalls and thermal pools. For lunch today we'll have the freshest fish you have ever tasted! (Dietary preferences will always be taken into account.)
FRIDAY, JUNE 30
You've got the day to yourself and options are limitless!
If you would like, our tour guide will be happy to help you plan your day. You may decide to just relax at the house, head out on your own, are do something as a group. The choice is yours. Dinner will be at a fabulous restaurant where we will have the pleasure of hearing the tradition music of the Azores called Fado music.
(Meals: B, D)
SATURDAY, JULY 1
After breakfast, we will head out with our fabulous tour guide for one final tour with her. We'll head east this time, as we explore the Furnas area, known for its crater lake, thermal pools, and quaint villages. We'll have the opportunity to eat the traditional Azorean stew, Cozido das Furnas, cooked underground with volcanic heat. Our day will include a visit to a traditional pottery factory, as well as a tea plantation (the Azores is the only place in Europe where you can see a tea factory.) (Meals: B,L,D)
SUNDAY, JULY 2
No need to wake up early! We'll have the morning to relax before heading to the airport in the afternoon for a short flight to Pico Island. We will arrive at Pico by late-afternoon and go straight to our new 'home' for the next 4 nights. Our new home has 6 bedrooms, 8 beds and 3 baths. Click here for more pictures.
MONDAY, JULY 3
We will spend the day with a local tour guide for a tour of Pico Island. We'll experience scenic volcanic landscapes and coastal lava fields of the "Mountain Island", the youngest island of the Azores archipelago. Pico mountain is the highest point of Portugal and the third elevation of the Atlantic ocean. We'll learn about the culture and history of Pico, the UNESCO vineyards, unique endemic birds and plants, the largest endemic forest area, and dozens of lagoons with an endless blue ocean.
TUESDAY, JULY 4
This day is reserved for you. You can hike mount Pico or head out on the water for some whale watching. Our guide will be happy to make recommendations.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 5
Today we take a ferry ride to Faial Island where we'll meet up with our tour guide. Our guide will take us around the best of Faial Island to show us unique sceneries and cultural delicacies. We will go through forests and volcanoes, including the Capelinhos with a visit to the Museum, the central Caldeira and other typical spots that only locals know about.
THURSDAY, JULY 6
Sadly, our trip comes to an end. We will fly back to Boston where we say goodbye to new friends, with the hope that our paths will cross again some day.
"Excellent! My tour with Kindred Women Travelers to the Azores was everything and more than expected. It lived up to Maryann O'Connor's emphasis on culture, history, comfort and camaraderie in every instance. Maryann chose local specialized guides who besides being passionate, informative and engaging, truly cared about us and did their best to make this a memorable trip. The itinerary was beautifully crafted taking us through the history and culinary treats of each island we visited. Leisure time combined with activity and not to be missed opportunities to bathe in the mineral pools, enjoy a volcanic cooked picnic lunch and an intimate dinner with Fado were experiences beyond expectations. I highly recommend Kindred Women Travelers to anyone wanting to have fun and enriching experiences." ~Karen C.