About midway between Boston and mainland Portugal sits the Azores, a collection of nine islands scattered over several hundreds of nautical miles. The closest point to Europe from the United States, the Azores is an autonomous region of Portugal, and just four hours by plane from Boston. www.flytoazores.com
The Azores sit at the very spot where the tectonic plates for Europe, Africa and North America meet.
The Azores’ year-round mild climate gives the islands a fresh, springlike quality. No matter what the weather is back home, it’s always between 57 and 71 degrees F in the Azores.
The Azores are home to Portugal’s tallest mountain peak, the only tea plantations in Europe, dozens of crater lakes, miles of rocky coastlines, and some 6,000 pineapple plantations.
The Azores offer a number of innovative lodging options, including former palaces, manor homes and monasteries rich with the history of the region.
Catch your dinner with saltwater fly-fishing
The waters surrounding the Azores boast a veritable feast of fish and shark. But the Blue Marlin hold a special place of honor--6 out of 10 fishing competition world records were set in the Azores, with the fishers in question catching impressively-sized Blue Marlin. The largest ever caught was 1,189 pounds!
Hike up, under, around and through ancient volcanoes
On the island of Faial, the remains of a lighthouse mark the site of a massive volcanic eruption that took place in 1957, gutting the lighthouse, burying a small village and adding more than one mile of new shoreline to the island over the course of a year. Today the area is a nature park, with a hiking trail to the rim of the dormant volcano.
Lava caves run for miles under the islands of Pico, Terceira, Graciosa and São Miguel. The cooling lava of past eruptions created these tube-like caves, and today those caves provide great adventure for a spelunker.
Geysers spout in nature parks on several of the islands. At the shore of Furnas Lake on the island of São Miguel, steam hisses out of a dozen geysers, offering a natural “oven” to cook food inside the caldeiras.
Take a bike tour through the islands
Cyclists of all kinds can find a route or a tour to suit their tastes. Options include backcountry roads, a mountain path or a seaside route… or all three in one trip! Mountain bikers might try some dirt back roads to get into hidden valleys, garden landscapes and tiny towns.
Whale watching like Jacques Cousteau never imagined
The Azores were named one of the top 10 whale watching sites in the world. But whale watching in the Azores doesn’t involve sitting on a dock with a pair of binoculars. Instead, visitors hop aboard a small, semi-inflatable motorboat that zips through the seas in search of Willy and Moby. It's not for the faint of heart… there’s definitely a thrill to this chase! While an experienced guide pilots the boat on water, on-shore spotters, situated high up on the seaside cliffs, keep an eye out for whales while directing him on where to go. One of the best times to see any of them is in the spring, when they tend to congregate in the Azores.
Or just enjoy 18 holes
Here golfing is a year-round activity with mild temperatures and spectacular landscapes at all the courses. The ocean is always in view and, while strolling the greens, players experience the exotic and diverse range of flora and fauna for which the Azores are known.