THE AZORES IN 1 MINUTE.

That's it for the Azores! On a personal note, I get scared every time I visit an Island. I have no idea how to make it interesting. Islands are meant for relaxation, not for 1 minute videos. But the Azores is more than just an Island. One week ago, I had no idea this place existed on the map. Now, I will remember it forever. Don't come here to sit by the beach and relax. Come here to be blown away. Tomorrow I fly out to head to...Los Angeles! Thank you Luis from Azores Getaways for letting me and Alyne have so much fun here. You really are amazing. And thank you Alyne Tamir for being GREAT on camera. If you made videos everyday, you would have gotten a million likes in 20 days. LIKE Nas Daily on Facebook!Add me on Instagram: @NasDaily.

Posted by Nas Daily on Sunday, April 30, 2017

Our very first trip to Africa was almost four years ago and we landed in Kenya. And then we went to Nairobi, discovered Ethiopia, explored Morocco, Rwanda and uncovered Madagascar. This vastly misunderstood piece of land spans 6% of the Earth’s surface and is where 1.1 billion people call home. Prior to visiting Africa, we heard plenty of stereotypes and myths about Africa. The saddening part is that most of these myths and stereotypes are rooted in false representations, media exaggerations and biased information. 

The widespread propagation of these stereotypes hinder many people from visiting Africa, simply out of fear. We figured that people subconsciously buy into these myths and are being influenced by inaccurate messages about Africa. On the other hand, we were very intrigued by Africa’s diversity and rich multicultural heritage. Housing 16% of the world’s population and encompassing over 1,500 languages, we knew that Africa beckons to be explored for a multitude of reasons.

We’ve all heard about Boracay, the Maldives and Hawaii — island gems that boast postcard-worthy views all around. But we discovered a secret island that deserves more attention. Interestingly, this island chain is just a four-hour flight away from Boston and a two-hour flight from Lisbon — literally in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Here, there are more cows than humans, more dolphins than anywhere else in the world and sunsets that will take your breath away. Well, it’s not going to be a secret much longer because we’re going to tell you exactly where it is.

The Azores is a far-flung nine-island archipelago off the coast of Portugal and the islands are surprisingly accessible from the US. The islands also happen to be one of the world’s most sustainable destinations — they’re literally the product of spectacular volcanic activity. The otherworldly volcanic landscapes and geothermal hot springs make the islands perfect for a wellness vacation. Nature enthusiasts, fans of adventure sports and honeymooners who might be craving for a private retreat can also indulge in the Azores and its offerings.

Important things to know about The Azores

The Azores

The Azores is made up of nine different islands: San Jorge, Terceira, Santa Maria, São Miguel, Pico, Faial, Flores, Corvo, Graciosa. If you’re really pressed for time and have to pick one to visit, we suggest São Miguel as that’s the easiest to fly to and houses the most variety of things to do. 

This Eden on Earth is serviced by flights from cities such as Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Dublin and Lisbon to Ponta Delgada. If you’re coming from Lisbon, you also have the option of flying to Horta in Faial, Terceira and Santa Maria. Take note that when you’re on inter-island flights, do expect delays. 

The Azores provide a very unique European experience that is different from the actual continent. Whether you choose to stay in an isolated cabin with sweeping views of the sea, or opt for rural accommodations at reformed farmhouses, the Azores is a place like no other. We feel like it’s not just your typical quintessential European destination.

Best Time to Visit The Azores

If you’re visiting The Azores, summer (April – September) is the best season to visit and it coincides with prime whale-watching time. Due to the stable and subtropical climate, the islands are an ideal place to head to even during the off peak seasons, but ferries might be a problem since they only start running regularly in June. If you’re keen to visit during spring, May is the ideal time to visit as the Azores will be awash in flowers. We reckon it’s best to avoid the rainy season from November to March.

Things to do in The Azores islands

The Azores Pineapple Plantation

Tour the tea and pineapple plantations

The Azores used to mainly supply oranges to the mainland but after a disease wiped out the crop, pineapples and tea were introduced instead. On the island of São Miguel, you can tour a pineapple plantation — the only kind in Europe — and taste some of the fresh produce. Pineapples have become a part of the local cuisine here and locals even pair it with grilled blood sausages as a typical appetizer. The small Azorean pineapples boast a unique intensely flavourful taste that makes it excellent in a variety of products from juices to jams and meat garnishes. Also, don’t miss a trip to the Gorreana estate, a family-owned tea plantation that has been producing fine green and black teas since 1883.

Swim in the “natural swimming pools”

The water in The Azores is warmed by the gulf stream, so you don’t have to worry about freezing in ice-cold temperatures. There are many opportunities to take a dip in the natural hot springs and pools. Situated in the village of Furnas on São Miguel, you can visit the iron-rich geothermal pools near one of the island’s three caldera lakes. Alternatively, Terra Nostra Gardens is another good choice which features a large thermal swimming pool that’s surrounded by more than 2,000 species of trees.

Go whale and dolphin watching in the seas

Whale-watching is something you simply have to do in one of the world’s largest whale sanctuaries. The sparkling cerulean waters of the Azores is home to over a third of the world’s whale and dolphin species. The best part about going whale and dolphin watching in the Azores is that you will see them throughout the year as they inhabit the archipelago all year round, especially the common bottlenose dolphins. 

During summer, spotted dolphins, sperm whales and bearded whales are more frequently spotted while during winter, you have a better chance of witnessing the elusive blue whale. Between April and May, you might also see migrating humpback and fin whales passing by. The islands offer exceptional sighting records which most countries cannot guarantee.

Snorkel in the crystalline waters

The Azores have some of the most diverse waters in the world with a myriad of marine flora and fauna living off the shores. Even though you’re in the Atlantic Ocean, the waters are not frigid thanks to the volcanic heat that is spewing out from the depths of the ocean. The tranquil, crystalline waters of some of the beaches here are perfect for you to snorkel in. You’ll be treated to an amazing underwater scene ranging from sea turtles, the occasional manta ray to a kaleidoscopic display of fish. Just be warned of the jellyfish zones and steer clear. For your reference, some of the best places to snorkel at include: Islet of Villa Franco do Campo, Praia Porto Pim (Faial), Praia da Riviera (Terceira), Poça Branca (Pico) and Praia Formosa (Santa Maria).

Tips For Travellers Visiting The Azores

The Azores

  • The official language of the Azores is Portuguese but the type of Portuguese spoken differs slightly on different islands. The locals can speak basic English though.
  • On weekdays, shops open from 9am –12.30pm and 2pm – 6.30pm. On Saturdays, most shops close at 1pm with the exception of shopping centres and supermarkets. It’s important to plan your itinerary around these time slots.
  • Also, it’s best to navigate around the islands by renting a car. Even though buses are available throughout the islands, they are not too frequent. You will need to plan your day along the bus routes and schedules.
  • As the weather is unpredictable, it’s always useful to have a raincoat or windbreaker in hand. When you’re visiting the hot springs, be sure to bring extra clothing as the waters tend to stain your clothes.

It’s time to discover what lies around those colossal volcanic arcs. Since most of the hikes, views and beautiful lagoons are free, there’s even more reason to visit the Azores. This island chain that’s literally in the middle of the ocean is well worth exploring this year. Thanks to more flights, cheaper fares and more choices, The Azores is more accessible now than ever.

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