The Azores are located 850 miles (1360km) from mainland Portugal and 1,200 miles (2000km) from Newfoundland. For years the Azores has been the mid point for transatlantic sailors on their voyage across the ocean. Located on the Mid Atlantic Ridge the Azores is young in age with the coast still covered with ash, lava and pumice, remnants of the islands violent volcanic activity.
As part of Portugal the main spoken language in the Azores is Portuguese however the majority of dive centres and tourist attractions speak English due to the influx of tourism.
Each of the eight Azorean islands are different in terms of landscape and culture, Pico Island is dwarfed by Pico Volcano, the tallest mountain in Portugal at 7700ft (2350m). Faial Island and San Miguel are famed for their lagoons and highland calderas, while Sao Jorge has a number of waterfalls and dense forests to explore.
Temperatures in the Azores rarely fall below freezing however due to it’s location in the gulf stream, the climate is often humid, with temperatures reaching 95F (35C) in July and September.
Although diving is the premier allure of the Azores, tourists flock from around the globe to partake in other activities that the islands offer. The Azores is home to over 30 species of cetacean that either migrate through islands or are resident inhabitants. The baleen whale season from March to June sees one of the largest concentrations of ocean giants in one place at one time and is world renowned for whale watching and dolphin swimming.
Don’t forget to sample the local cuisine of the Azores, fresh cheese from Sao Jorge Island and wine and agua-dente (local Azorean moonshine) are a must.
The various lagoons, mountains and stunning highland pastures are an appeal for hikers of all ages, the Azores are truly a hidden gem lost in the middle of the Atlantic.
Getting to the Azores is not complicated but can take time. Many international airports fly direct to Sao Miguel (the largest Azorean island). However if you are looking to visit the other islands in the archipelago you have to fly to Lisbon and then get a connecting flight with SATA to the island of your choice.
Car, moped and bike rental is available on the islands, however book in advance to avoid disappointment as public transport is not yet fully functional or convenient.