Last week I was on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Who here has heard of the Azores? It’s okay if you haven’t. Up until a few months ago when my friend Karla invited me along on her adventure, I had hardly heard of them either. However I’m always down for an adventure. And thus we planned an affordable getaway to the Azores.
In the middle of the ocean
During my stay on the island of São Miguel, I sent a Spanish friend of mine a screenshot of where I was on the map. It basically looked like this:
His response was “joder! En mitad del mar!” (f**k! In the middle of the ocean!”). These lovely islands belong to the country of Portugal. Portuguese is the official language. However just like the rest of their country, it was not hard to find people who spoke English. I must say that I am constantly impressed by the level of English the Portuguese have. They keep all their English television in original version and put on Portuguese subtitles. This is one reason why they speak it so well (now if we could only get Spain to do this).
How to arrive
Well of course you have to fly. You can catch flights from either Portugal on Ryanair (from Lisbon or Porto) or EasyJet (just from Lisbon), or from the United States (Boston and LA). The airport is Ponta Delgada, which is the largest city (although still very much the size of a town) on the island of São Miguel. You can also fly into the island of Terceria from Lisbon and Porto. We did not explore that island, but I’m told it has a US military base. On Azores Airlines, you can find all kinds of flights. These will be a tad more expensive than the budget flights.
What are the Azores?
So as mentioned before, they are a part of Portugal. There are nine islands total that comprise the Azores. We just stayed on São Miguel the entire time, although it is easy to get to the other islands if you have the time. I would love to return and see the other islands one day. Here is a better view of all nine islands.
Where we stayed
As most of my readers know, I’m not too much of a high-maintenance traveler. I also love the hostel life. Fortunately Ponta Delgada has a hostel with affordable prices. So my friend and I stayed at the Ponta Delgada Youth Hostel. The prices are 19 euros a night. They also have hostels on the islands of Santa Maria, Terceria, São Jorge and Pico. We stayed in a female dorm room.
Oh just me and my pile of adaptors, makeup, my hair brush and pineapple dress, amongst other things.
The building was beautiful and the grounds surrounding it were as well. Overall I found the facilities to be basic. However we were out exploring the island every day, so it’s not like we needed a 5-star hotel. Breakfast was included each day, which was great.
I loved this sign and exploring around outside.
The living room area was definitely very comfortable and full of other travelers to get to know.
Getting to and from was the best. When you arrive at the Ponta Delgada airport, there’s a shuttle called the Aerobus that can take you to various hostels and hotels in the city. They told me that tickets cannot be purchased online, so you’ll just need to find the booth in the airport. Luckily the airport is quite small, so it’s not not easy to miss. They will work with your flights. Our flight home was at 7 a.m. and they picked us up at our hostel at 5:30 a.m. for just 3.50 each.
Getting around on the island
The best way to really see everything is to rent a car. While there is public transportation on the island, it’s infrequent. Furthermore our car rental was only $77 for three days. We rented from a place in downtown Ponta Delgada and simply returned the car the night before our flight. I found the deal on Ebates. Have you heard about it? If not, you really should sign up! You get rebates for all the things you normally buy (shops like Target, Macy’s, Kohls and sites like hotels.com, Ebay and EDreams, to name a few). All you have to do is just sign up! And a cool bonus … if you sign up with me, you get $10! Click here to check it out! I use it all the time when booking hotels, hostels and flights.
It wasn’t anything fancy, but it worked and had AC. That’s really all we needed to get around the island. Also shout-out to Nuno from the car rental place. He gave us some nice recommendations for where to eat.
What we ate and drank
We ate so well in the Azores. In general, the food is similar to what you find in Portugal. There was a lot of good seafood.
This was pineapple and alcohol.
This apparently is a common snack in the Azores. It’s bananas, cheese and honey. It was very tasty!
This is what everyone kept saying was the most beautiful part of the island. It was very green and the sea-side views were amazing. Also to avoid being that person, it’s pronounced Nord-eshte.
Just look at the town! So cute!
There are several natural hot springs on the island. My favorite was Terra Nostra Park in the town of Furnas. It costs 8 euros to get in and there’s a hotel inside of it. So if you’d like to stay in the town, you have some options. My phone was actually on low battery, so we just found it by following road signs. It was fun to just wander through the island that way. We joked that it would be really hard to get totally lost since you can basically drive from one end to the other in about two hours.
Yes the water is this yellow color and it is amazing. You’ll want to wear a dark-colored bathing suit as the water will slightly tint it. This was was so very warm and relaxing. There were also two other smaller pools to chill in. The rest of the park was beautiful and had a nice walking trail.
The other hot springs was Caldeira Velha in Ribiera Grande. This one is only 2 euros and has both a cold and hot springs. Here I am … cold but loving life.
This area has some of the most beautiful views on the island.
Gorreana Tea Plantation
Gorreana is currently the only tea plantation in Europe. They serve an amazing mint green tea ice cream and always have free hot tea. You can also roam around the gardens.
Other shots around the island
I had such a blast in the Azores for 5 days. One of the reasons the island is so green is because of the rain. It does rain frequently, so take that into consideration. I packed sundresses thinking the weather would be more tropical. Luckily I had packed for my entire summer since I was headed to the US and then the Czech Republic right after, so I had warm clothing as well. The hot springs, food and sheer beauty of the island made up for the lack of hot weather.
Have you heard of the Azores before? Would you love a few days on these islands?
My stay at the Azores Youth Hostel was complimentary. However my opinions are 100% my own.