São Miguel is an island in the Azores archipelago. The nine islands that make up The Azores sit around 1,600 kilometres from mainland Portugal, in the Atlantic Ocean. The islands are divided into three groups: the eastern islands, the central islands and the western islands. São Miguel is one of the two eastern islands and is nicknamed ‘The Green Island’ due to its lush greenery and abundance of pastures and forests.
São Miguel is the largest of the Azores islands at 61.1 kilometres long and 15.8 kilometres wide at its widest point. More than half of the Azorean population live on this island and it has around 137,865 inhabitants.
Where to Stay
Hotel Marina Atlantico is located in front of the marina, close to many restaurants, bars and shops. The seafront rooms have lovely views over the marina and most also have balconies. The hotel has an excellent Health Club with indoor, heated swimming pool, sauna and jacuzzi. There is free wi-fi throughout the hotel and the reception staff are friendly and helpful. The airport is approximately 10 minutes away by car.
What to See
São Miguel is a beautiful island and the city of Ponta Delagada has plenty of shops, cafeterias, parks and restaurants, all within walking distance of Hotel Marina Atlântico. If you are island hopping and only have a few days in São Miguel, make sure you don’t miss these two wonderful sights!
Furnas – Hot Springs & Botanical Gardens
Furnas is a parish in the municipality of Povoaçao, located inland from the south-eastern coast of São Miguel. When visiting São Miguel, a trip to see the bubbling hot springs in Furnas is a must! In 1630 a powerful eruption took place and since then the area has had a great variety of volcanic activity, resulting in the Caldeiras das Furnas (hot springs). The area smells a little like rotten eggs is quite incredible to see. Near Lagoa das Furnas (Furnas Lake) there is a large area where local restaurants bury pots in the ground to cook their Cozido das Furnas (a local dish made of various types of meat and vegetables cooked underground by the heat of the springs). Watching the food being dug up is quite a show and the pots are taken directly to a selection of local restaurants where you can enjoy the typical dish with some Azorean wine.
While in Furnas a trip to Terra Nostra botanical gardens is also highly recommended. The gardens are 12.5 hectares in size and within the grounds is a large, thermal pool. Make sure to take an old swimming costume with you as the orange colour of the water will dye it yellow!
The Twin Lakes of Sete Cidades are one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal. The area of Sete Cidades is an extinct volcano that sits around 575 metres above sea level. It was named ‘seven cities’ due to the seven peaks surrounding the lakes. The twin lake is made up of two lakes separated by a man-made bridge. The smaller of the two lakes appears vivid green in colour, giving it the name Lagoa Verde (Green Lake). The larger lake is deep blue, giving it the name Lagoa Azul (Blue Lake). The view from Vista do Rei is simply spectacular!
Arruda Açores is a unique pineapple plantation, where the fruits are grown in greenhouses. It is estimated that São Miguel has around 6,000 greenhouses and all sorts of products made from pineapples can be found on the island. The gift shop offers a wonderful selection of cakes, jams, chutneys, mustards, liqueurs, sweets and chocolates made from the locally produced pineapples.
Cha Gorreana Tea Estate
Cha Gorreana is located in Maia to the north of São Miguel island. Chá Gorreana’s teas are recognised internationally as a rare collection of fine teas and this is Europe’s oldest tea producing factory. Ermelinda Gago Da Camara opened the factory in 1883 and it has been family owned and operated every since. While visiting the factory you can learn about the traditional ways of making green and black tea and taste some of the locally produced teas. The gift shop sells locally produced teas as well as a delicious selection of tuna marinated in different herbs and chutneys.
Where To Eat
A Tasca is a small tapas restaurant in Ponta Delgada. It doesn’t look very special but the food is delicious and the menu offers a wide variety of dishes, including typical, Azorean cuisine. Make sure to book a table, as this restaurant is always full!
Conves Acores is located in the marina, a few minutes from Hotel Marina Atlânico by foot. The outdoor seating looks over the marina, creating a lovely setting. The service is very good and the tuna on a bed of glazed vegetables is highly recommended!
Restaurane Tony’s in Furnas is an excellent place to try the traditional dish of Cozido das Furnas. The portion is huge and can easily be shared between three or four people. Make sure to book as this restaurant is also likely to be busy!