Did you know that the Azores were voted the second best island in the world for sustainable tourism by the National Geographic Traveler? How about the most beautiful place in the world by the Belgian Dutch edition of the National Geographic Traveler?
It's just 4 hours flight out of Boston or 2 hours flight from Lisbon. So why don't the major airlines fly there? Why don't we see slick ads that say "What happens in the Azores, stays in the Azores" or "Jump into the Azores." The secret, because you don't see those things is precisely why you want to go.
The Azores are 9 volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The Azores are actually the tops of some of the tallest mountains on the planet. You can even go INSIDE a volcano (Agar do Carvao) on Terceira Island. It has a mild climate year round, a strong culture, healthy ecosystems and amazing unspoiled natural beauty. Bear in mind, this mild climate might experience all four seasons in one day and the beaches are rugged and scenic not white and gentle.
There are places so special here that you have to see, hear and smell them.
Let me give you 5 reasons to holiday in the Azores but honestly I could give you a hundred.
1. We'll start with the lakes. Just one example is the Lago das Sete Cidades, two lakes, right next to each other, one is green and one is blue. How'd that happen? Then on Flores there's Lagoa Comprida, a black lake! They are small enough you can hike around them.
You have a better than a 95% chance of seeing either or both on a typical whale watching tour. Bring your video cameras and be ready. Every town has a marina. They take you out on small boats and often you get within 10 yards of the whale.
No long lines anywhere. Really, it's you, nature, the locals and the sweet sounds of birds, waterfalls and the wind.
They are all over the place. Some are seen from the road and some you have to hike to reach but it's worth it.
Let's see, geysers, hot springs, tropical vegetation and the source of all of this is a crater at one of the most active volcanoes in the Azores.
6. The people. BONUS
The people of the Azores are a bonus. They are laid back, polite and helpful. They really add something to your Azores experience. Although Portuguese is spoken here, the good news is that people involved with tourism speak English. Most menus are in both languages. Try the fish, it's excellent. The cities and towns are small and the people are more than willing to make sure your stay is enjoyable. They will actually say hello! Oh and thank you in Portuguese is gender sensitive, so thank you spoken by a man is Obrigado and from a woman is Obrigada.
How easy is it to get there? Azores Airlines offers flights from Boston and Toronto year round and from Oakland from June to September, from Montreal July and August.