Outdoor adventures in the Azores

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

The Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal, are composed of nine volcanic islands and are an absolutely fantastic place to get outside and experience what nature has to offer. All nine islands are part of the EU — Flores, Corvo, Graciosa, Terceira, São Jorge, Pico, Faial, São Miguel and Santa Maria. Their prime location in the North Atlantic Ocean offers an ideal mild climate year round. With temperatures in the mid-60s in the winter, it makes the islands perfect for outdoor activities when the weather in most of Europe is not so stellar.

The list of activities goes on and on when it comes to outdoor fun. From whale watching to scuba diving, check out these endless possibilities of adventure!  

Spearfish with Calypso Azores on Graciosa. No experience necessary to charter a boat and head out to catch some bream, grouper, wrasse, hogfish, or jackfish! The professionals will teach you all you need to know. Who can catch the biggest fish?

Go canyoning with AvenTour on São Jorge. If you’re a real daredevil, go canyoning. You’ll have the opportunity to repel off waterfalls, jump into wells and wonder at the natural beauty all around you. Just make sure you’re not afraid of heights before you go!

Kayak with Naturfactor on Pico. Discover the island in a more intense way by kayaking around the area. You’ll have the opportunity to kayak around the coastline and enter caves that were formed over the years by the water crashing into the rocks or kayak in a lake an enjoy seeing the vineyards.

Hike the Fumarolen am Lagoa Furnas trail on São Miguel. This intermediate hiking trail will take just under three hours to complete and offers spectacular views around Lake Furnas. You’ll see a Neo-Gothic church, waterfalls and the city of Furnas while standing high on the surrounding mountains.

Bird watch with Bio & Bird tours on São Miguel. Witness birds in a variety of natural habitats on the island. If you’re lucky you’ll see a bullfinch, which is a very rare and endangered bird. Though the islands are small, there are over 400 species located there, just waiting to be spotted by a patient watcher. Binoculars are provided so that you don’t miss a single bird!

Whale watch with Azores Adventures Futurismo on São Miguel. The Azores islands are along a passage point for more than one-third of the world’s whale and dolphin species. Here you’ll find sperm whales, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and Risso’s dolphins year round, as well as Atlantic spotted dolphins, pilot whales and striped dolphins in the summer and blue whales, fin whales and sei whales in the spring.

Bike on the Volta à Ilha Terceira trail on Terceira. Bike around the entire island on this trail while enjoying picturesque stopping points. Stop at the vantage point at the Raminho headland and see the islands of Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial. Visit the wine museum or hit the Praia da Vitória beach.

How many activities can you conquer during one trip? Don’t forget to pack sunscreen and a great pair of hiking boots; you’re going to need them! Consider scheduling a day of rest for when you return to reality. You might be exhausted after all the fun you’re sure to have searching for adventure on one of the Azores islands!

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