Nine volcanic islands sitting remotely in the Atlantic Ocean, enriched with vibrant blue and green colours, home to dolphins and whales, and filled with adventure possibilities beyond your wildest dreams. What other reasons could you possibly need to not immediately start packing your suitcase and jet off to this archipelago of paradise? Just in case we haven't already tempted you enough, here are our top five reasons why the Azores should be next on your travel bucket list and what you can expect during your visit.
No.1 The Wildlife
The Azores are home to about one third of all cetaceans on the planet so during your visit you are pretty much guaranteed to see a selection of these amazing creatures - Sperm whales, Common Dolphins, Bottlenose Dolphins, among others... As a location which prospered economically from whale hunting up until 1987, it's inspiring to now visit a destination where whale and dolphin-watching is run so responsibly. Visiting the Whaling Museum on Pico Island is the perfect opportunity to learn about the history of the industry and how it has turned around.
Not only do the Azores provide you with incredible sightings of whales and dolphins, but it's also a fantastic location for bird-watching. Keep an eye out for Bulwer's Petrel and Wilson's Storm Petrel. And if you are spending lots of time on the island of Sao Miguel, then you might be lucky enough to spot the Azores endemic Bullfinch - with its bright orange chest, grey wings and black head, it is a beautiful, unique and photogenic bird.
No.2 The Cuisine
Ok so if we didn't win you over with the possibility to see more wildlife than you could ever have imagined, then how about the chance to eat some of the richest and most flavoursome food in the world (we aren't just saying that because we're biased, promise!).
For all the cheese lovers out there, we can tell you now that you will not be disappointed. As each island comes with its own individual qualities, hopping from island to island you will be able to see that the cheese produced on each one is equally unique. From the spicy cheese made on Graciosa to the variety of Queijo da Ilha of Sao Jorge (where it's known to be the best), there is a little something to please everyone (provided you like cheese).
Seafood is a huge part of the Azorean cuisine and you really can't get it fresher when you're surrounded by the cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean. From enormous tuna to octopus served up in a delightful stew, there is a massive variety and the hearty flavours used in Azorean cooking result in fantastic dishes.
The Cozido de Furnas is a speciality of the island of Sao Miguel. The locals prepare this unique one pot stew with a selection of meats and vegetables in the morning and then bury the pot in the hot volcanic soil, leaving it for several hours before digging it up to enjoy later.
No.3 The Adventure
One of the best things about this archipelago is the variety of adventure activities offered throughout. Whether you want the exhilarating experience of canyoning in a 100% natural environment or if perhaps swimming with dolphins is more your thing, the Azores have you covered. Kayaking will give you the chance to explore the beautiful nature of the islands, while diving will show you just how much sea diversity there really is.
On land there is something for all ages and fitness abilities. One of the best ways to witness the breathtaking scenery and extraordinary lagoons is to take a hiking tour. You could also explore the islands by bike, go on a jeep safari or simply sit back in a comfortable van, giving you the chance to relax and snap away on your camera as you visit some of the best attractions the islands have to offer. The possibilities are endless so there is sure to be something to suit each individual.
No.4 The Scenery
Due to the remoteness of the islands, they have thankfully managed to preserve much of their natural beauty, one of the many reasons they are such a delight to visit. They are filled with an abundance of natural wonders - the Lagoa do Fogo and Caldeira Velha are absolutely breathtaking and not-to-be missed. The thermal waters of Caldeira Velha maintain a steady temperature of 38 degrees and visitors don't hesitate to relax in the heated waters whilst marvelling at the surrounding scenery.
There is also a mixture of cave systems and lava tubes to explore, volcanoes to climb (or look at) and different rock formations. It's true that photos never quite do justice to the beauty of a place, but we can assure you that whether you're taking photos on a fancy DSLR or simply a Snapchat picture on your iphone, the scenery is so spectacular that it will look amazing no matter what.
No.5 The UNESCO Vineyards of Pico
The island of Pico consists of fields filled with vineyards with Mount Pico sitting admirably in the background. These handmade vineyards were started in the 15th Century and are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It's astonishing to know that they have not only survived so long, but also thrived, despite volcanic eruptions and a difficult environment. Stone walls were put in place to protect the vines from the harsh sea winds and water, whilst also transferring the sun's heat in order to warm the grapes.
Wandering through the abandoned vineyards of Pico, you will explore its beauty and start to understand the history and individuality of this enchanting island.
As a travel marketing company and U.K. representation company, The Adventure Connection is committed to finding unique suppliers which run high quality and sustainable adventure activities, whilst also ensuring visitors have an unforgettable holiday. Organising these Fam trips enables tour operators to experience the destination first-hand and understand why these locations are so important and unique to the adventure travel industry.
Azores Adventures Futurismo are just one of our clients who have run a FAM Trip for us in 2018, alongside Nkar in Sri Lanka and Kingfisher Journeys in Rwanda. If you would like to hear about other FAM Trips that we will be organising, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.