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7 Days in the Azores: A Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

The idea for this trip to the Azores started to form while I was mindlessly scrolling through social media. A photo worth a thousand words took my breath away. It showed Sete Cidades, and that is what sparked my interest in the Azores. Trip planning commenced and originally it was going to be a girls trip, however that quickly changed into an epic solo hiking adventure. 

The Azores

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

The Azores, this hidden gem of the Atlantic – are an autonomous region of Portugal. It’s an archipelago of nine volcanic islands in the middle of the Atlantic, which is famous for its breathtaking landscapes – a hiker’s paradise!

Apps You’ll Need

To prepare, I downloaded the spotazores app.  The app is helpful with its webcams that show the different areas. It discloses what the viewpoints look like and whether or not you will be able to enjoy the view when you get there. 

I also downloaded the Azores trails app, which it was semi-helpful for the different hikes that I did. 

Where To Stay in Sao Miguel

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

For this trip I stayed in one Airbnb on the west side of the island of Sao Miguel, which is near the Sete Cidades. I decided it would be easier for me to stay in one place instead of moving around, as you can get from one side of the island to the other in about one hour and forty five minutes. This is purely personal preference. Along my journey I met a couple that stayed a few days on each part of the island. I don’t care much for packing and unpacking, so I decided to stay put and that worked perfectly. However, when I go back I would try it the other way as well.

How To Pick Your Hikes

For trip preparation I scoured the internet for the best hikes to do. I ended up using this website. I was able to do nine of the 10 hikes on my trip. So without further ado, here is my rough itinerary: 

Day 1: Traveling and First Adventures
Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

This was a typical day one of vacation, at least for the last few that I have been on. I was delayed in Charleston, South Carolina, for a couple of hours, and then delayed again at JFK airport. I still had a lovely overnight flight with food, wine, and some naps before landing around 7.00 am.
While researching for this trip, many people recommend going to the thermal baths with the overnight flight, landing early, and not being able to check in to my Airbnb until later in the day. I took this advice and hunted for Parque Terra Nostra, which is the large botanical garden geothermal pool. I suppose being sleep deprived and driving for the first time in a foreign place is not for me, because I couldn’t find it to save my life. I did end up stumbling upon Poca Da Don Bejia. I paid my entry fee and was able to enjoy all the pools. There was barely anyone there because it was early, so it truly was the best advice I got. I would highly recommend it if you end up in the same situation when you go.
Next stop was Tony’s to try the famous cozido, a Portuguese stew. I had made reservations, so I hung out nearby until they opened. I was seated very quickly and ordered sangria, which was delish, local cheese, (I mean who doesn’t love cheese) and the cozido for one. Everything I had read about it was that it wasn’t that great, but it was something you had to try while you were there. I don’t know if it was because I was so tired or because I love basic food, but I thought it was absolutely delish. I ended up taking my leftovers home and having them for dinner.

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

Leading into it, I went to my Airbnb and got sorted and relaxed and that was it for day one. To be real for just a minute, I did have a moment of sadness that first night being alone, because let’s be honest, it happens. So if you ever experience the same thing in your solo travels, just know you are not alone. Also, during my first night there was a dog outside my window barking until 3 am. It was horrible. 

Day Two: Whale Watching

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

Navigating a new place is always part of the adventure, and I had so many of those moments on this trip. One was finding Moby Dick Tours. A shout out to this tour company! I highly recommend choosing them if you want to go whale watching. Small company, one boat, and they really make your experience great. We did not see any whales on our tour, but saw so many different dolphins. The momma and baby dolphins were my favorite.
After whale watching it was time for lunch! I love ramen, so after getting off the boat I walked right along the water and grabbed some Grande Ramen at Ramen Bambu. It was quite delish and the crispy tofu was amazing.

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

Navigating my way out of the parking garage was an adventure in and of itself (FYI you pay before you leave). Then I was off to hike Salto Do Prego. This is what I have named the “chicken waterfall hike”. Along the hike there are so many chickens, and they don’t bother you at all.

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

There’s a waterfall at the end of the trail that you can actually take a dip in if you aren’t afraid of cold water. I chose not to, but I, of course, took pretty pictures in front of it. After I finished the hike I was starving so I just typed ‘restaurants’ into Google Maps and stumbled upon Restaurante Jardim. It was in the most adorable town center type area. I again had local cheese, wine, and traditional steak and fries, which was delish. That was a wrap for day two. Back to the airbnb, where I switched rooms and actually got some sleep! 

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

Day Three: Canyoning at Salto Di Cobrito

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

If you have never been canyoning, I HIGHLY recommend it. It was quite exhilarating and honestly one of the best experiences of my life. I jumped, rappelled, and ziplined in canyons and waterfalls!!! For this experience at Salto Di Cabrito you hiked out and “canyoned” back, so not only was I able to have an incredible new experience, I also checked a hike off my list. We met at Praia De Santa Barbara, which was beautifully breathtaking.

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After canyoning, I went back to the beach where we met the morning of and had an amazing duck lunch at Tuka Tula Beach Bar. The views were quite delightful and the food was spot on.
Next up was the Salto da Farinha hike, and y’all it was EXHAUSTING! But the views were incredible. It was worth every gasp of breath. I was unsure if I was supposed to keep going once I reached the waterfall, but I did, and while I felt like I almost died, it led me down to the beach and back up. I ended my hike coming through a little town and several people asked me if I was OK. I was so red in the face I probably looked like I was going to pass out.
Driving back to the Airbnb, I spotted a sign for Miradouro de Santa Iria, so I pulled over and checked that out. All along the roads on the island are signs with lookouts and views that you can just pull in to see. I LOVED this and stopped along many of them. While driving back to my vacation home during the few days I had been on the island at this point, I would always pass this little restaurant called Moby Dick, and it always seemed to be packed with locals. So I stopped at the Moby Dick for dinner on the way to grab a burger, fries, and a pint. Another perfect ending to a busy day. 

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

Day Four: All The Things

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

My main event for this day was horseback riding. However, that was not scheduled until 2pm. 
I started the morning visiting Calderia Vehlha, which is a hot spring area. I did not pay to visit the hot spring, but you can pay and just walk through and check it out. Not super exciting, but there is an information center which provides information about the island and its wildlife, which made it worth it to me. Calderia Velha is something that I stumbled upon, not on purpose, but on a pleasant accident.  I parked, and I walked up the steps, which are very steep. I saw a rooster, which was so adorable (I wanted to take him home as a pet).
I then did the Lagoa do Fogo Trail, because Calderia Vehlha didn’t take long at all. The good thing is there is a parking lot you can park in, but the signs confused me and I walked almost a mile the wrong way. So look for this sign and it will take you to the trail. This trail is EXHAUSTING, it is almost straight down, which means it is almost straight up on the way back. I, along with many others, was very much out of breath coming back up. The views were worth it though.

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

I clearly did a lot of driving today, because next up was my visit to the pineapple plantation. Pineapple is my favorite fruit, so to go to the pineapple plantation to observe how pineapples are grown was the most amazing experience ever. I got to watch each stage or observe each stage of pineapple growth, and then end my tour with an amazing pineapple drink, and a pineapple pastry. 

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

From here I went to my horseback riding tour which was with Quinta da Terça. This place is also a bed and breakfast, and the lady I went on my tour with was staying there and highly recommended itafter staying there several times. So it may be worth checking out if you are interested.

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Following this I still had time before my first fancy dinner, so I went ahead and headed to the Tea Estate to check it off the list. I got to the Cha Gorreana Tea Estate and had time to do that hike through the plantation. I also took an additional hike, which was the Trilho Municipal. It was very short and took me through some gorgeous scenery. Both of these hikes were very easy, amazing, beautiful, and breathtaking. I then enjoyed a beer which was green tea and some green tea cookies (these were so good I wish I brought some home)  and it just was the perfect day.

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To end my perfect day I had dinner at Quinta dos Sabores, which is a farm to table dining experience. It was hands down one of the nicest dinners I have ever treated myself to. I included the wine pairing with dinner and it was absolutely perfect. The service was impeccable, staff was very friendly and helpful, plating was beautiful and the food was delish. 

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Day Five: A confusing hike & a photo shoot

The Lagoa Das Furnas hike was the most confusing trail I did while I was there. It would seem it would be the easiest, but the signs are not clear at all, you walk through the city to get there, and I ended up getting turned around several times. I finally ended up figuring it out and completed the hike. In the end it was pretty cool, there is a lot to see along the trail, and you get to see where the cozido is cooked.

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

I had a photo shoot booked for today, but it wasn’t until the afternoon, so I was able to knock out the Moinhos da Ribeira Funda hiking trail as well. This was super easy and the signs were very clear. There were some steep parts, but well worth the beauty. After checking two more hikes off my list I met the photographer at Terra Nostra Garden, which was easy to find. We paid for admission into the garden and got to “work.” This experience was so much fun. I found the photographer in a local group. We got into the garden and took the most amazing pictures to document my trip. He was amazing and the photo shoot was amazing.This is something that I try to do on every trip, and I am so glad I was able to find a local photographer. 

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

 

I ended this day with an amazing and highly recommended sushi dinner at The Gin Library. 

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores
Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

I am not a gin drinker, but this was a truly unique experience. I showed up and had adorable cats greet me. I enjoyed a drink while we waited for the rest of the party to come. We were taken back to the private room with the chef, given our meal, and enjoyed an amazing sushi dinner, with amazing gin, pairing drinks by the hostess. I made lifelong friends with whom I will travel in the future. 

Day Six: ATVing

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

This was the day to go ATVing. I originally wanted to go paragliding, but the weather was never good enough. This was an interesting experience. I showed up at the meeting location and there was only a small sign, which was a little confusing. I called and confirmed that I was in the right location and was advised that I was just to wait until the start time. Once it was time for the event we walked down the driveway and were “assigned” our ATVs. We were given a brief overview of the ATV and the guide ensured that everyone felt comfortable. And off we went. It was amazing and exhilarating as it always is. This is also something I do often on my travels and I have never had a bad experience (knock on wood). We got back to the house and parked our ATVs and that was it.
I do feel the need to mention the hostess dog. She was super sweet and would literally walk up to you and roll over for a belly rub. This tour included many parts of the Seirra Devass hike, so while I technically didn’t hike it, I did check it off the list. I went to Old Flavor Sabores do Velho for lunch and tried the limpets. They were very interesting. I would compare them to mussels.

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

I decided to go home to my Airbnb to do laundry and pack. This was a great idea because I was exhausted from doing a lot this past week. For dinner I went to restaurant III Arcos, and hands down it was so good. It was close by and the staff was great. They were very welcoming and took me in the kitchen to explain the dishes before I ordered. I ended up getting the fried shrimp and roasted octopus. It was all very fresh and I took an hour to enjoy my last night in Sao Miguel. 

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores
Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

Day Seven: Big City Exploration

I saved this for the last day so I could drive in and explore. During my research I realized that Ponta Delgada is very touristy, and I really wanted to immerse myself in the culture by just walking around and observing. I bought some gifts, ate some food, enjoyed the city, and then returned to the airport. I went to a restaurant that was highly recommend named Tasca. There I had a local dish, Acorda de Camarao, which was quite interesting and delish. 

Girls Who Travel | Sao Miguel Hiking Adventure - 7 Days in the Azores

I want to add one little thing as I am a self-proclaimed foodie. I did not do this food tour, however I stopped at a couple of spots included in this tour to eat. When I go back I would definitely sign up for this, so I wanted to provide the link in case you may be interested.

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Jenni B

I am currently 34 and recently discovered my love of travel when I turned 30 and I have not stopped since. I love to eat and like to say that I am a self proclaimed foodie. I try to go on at least two trips a year right now because I am a dog owner and my sweet girl is getting older and not as friendly. My travel motto is: "Will travel for food."

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