Caldeira Velha - São Miguel - Açores, Portugal

It´s only our first few days in São Miguel Island.

We’ve seen a lot, but there is so much more to take in with every direction indicating somewhere unique to visit on the island.

We have been to Lagoa de Fogo volcano (Fire lake), had a bath in one of the thermal hot springs at Furnas Village, where we had “Cozido das Furnas” (Furnas stewed), a meal made inside a hole on the ground, cooked with the heat from the volcano. An amazing spectacle!

Its impossible to describe our experience of  the rare phenomenon delivered by Lagoa das Sete Cidades (Seven cities lake) – it’ half green and half blue.

From Sete cidades, we drove to a place called Ferraria, where you can have a bath in a hot sea. The hot water emerges from the ground right inside the sea, warming up an area of the ocean, turning it in a huge natural hot sea bath. Or you can chose to stay in the Ferraria spa and enjoy one of the thermal treatments or even a nice meal or a simple coffee at its bar.

The sun is setting, time to go back to Ponta Delgada. After so many activities we decide to stay in the city. In the harbour, called “Portas do Mar” (Sea doors) there are some bars, clubs and restaurants, where food ranges from the traditional Azorean cuisine to Italian meals.

Next day, after a breakfast with some traditional regional cheeses, cakes and cookies, we head to the east to visit the Nordeste and Povoação Villages. It’s a long way but the journey feels easy as there are many places to visit en-route.

Just after Ribeira Grande, one of the Island cities, we made a pit stop at the Gorreana tea plantation and tea factory. Not only is the landscape spectacular and noteworthy, but you can visit the factory and the museum, as well as try the tea produced there since 1750.

Heading to the Nordeste, there’s still some headway to make and so many wonders to see, such as the Achada´s waterfall or simply the sea view along the way.

Just before we get to the we stop to make a barbeque as the village provide so many places with public barbecues, benches and chairs as well as washing facilities for your dishes.

The Nordeste village has so many places to visit although the place is most famous for its many viewpoints and natural parks, such as Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego, Miradouro da Ponta da Madrugada, Serra da Tronqueira, Farol do Arnel, Parque Natural dos Caldeirões.

From the north side of the island we make our way back south, stopping first at the Povoação Village. The Povoação is located in the southeastern corner and was the first colony on the island of São Miguel, in 1427.

Even though its a small village you have beaches, good restaurants and breathtaking views! For that moment i wished I lived here!

However, there was still another place to visit on our journey back. We even spotted it from the plain just before landing on our arrival. Its Vila Franca do Campo and it´s famous “ilheu”.

Vila Franca do Campo, was founded in the middle of the 15th century, was the first capital of the archipelago until the greatest tragedy to befall the Azores occurred on 20 October 1522 when a violent earthquake hit the area of the village, almost destroying it completely.

It has one of the most important and biggest festive celebration’s in the island and one of the best known landmarks. The Ilheu de Vila Franca. A maritime volcano with white sand beach on its interior and beautiful blue sea. With a boat from the Vila Franca harbor it takes approximately 20 minutes to the ilheu. Simply put – the ultimate day out.

Just before we leave, we could not resit trying the famous queijadas. A kind of traditional cheesecake, which was delicious.

Time to go back to Ponta Delgada as our time is sadly running out. Journeying nack back we spotted something right in the middle of the ocean. It´s the sunny Santa Maria. The first and the oldest island in the archipelago. Our next stop.