AZORES: Outstanding Natural Beauty
Photo: Boca do Inferno, São Miguel, Azores
A JOURNEY FULL OF SURPRISES AND EMOTIONS!
By Leila Monteiro Lins | Photos by Teresa Oliveira
Nine worlds of graceful forms, where mysterious lakes nestle inside the craters of ancient volcanoes. The coast is decorated with islets, true sanctuaries of marine bird life and a lush vegetation that cover the islands, where traces of native flora can be seen. A paradise to be discovered!
In June, DISCOVER magazine was invited to take part in a 10-day press trip organized by the Azores Regional Government. Journalist Leila Monteiro Lins and photographer Teresa Oliveira visited five of the nine islands that make up the Azores. Sao Miguel, Graciosa, Terceira, Pico and Faial. It was a journey full of surprises and emotions!
The nine islands of the Azores
The archipelago of Azores is an autonomous region of Portugal located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, 1500 km west of Lisbon and 3400 km east of New York. The nine islands are divided into three geographical groups: the Eastern Group ( Santa Maria and Sao Miguel islands), the Central Group (Terceira, Graciosa, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial islands) and the Western Group (Corvo and Flores islands).
Although the islands make up an archipelago, each Azorean island has its own identity, unique landscape, traditions, cuisine and architecture. They have been sculptured by ancient volcanoes and populated over the centuries by courageous and warm people.
A combination of Azorean resourcefulness, progressive government, financial input from the European Economic Union, which facilitated development, and billions of dollars in assistance from islanders living abroad, helped turn the islands’ economy around.
During the last two decades when whale watching replaced whale hunting, and dairy farming overtook wheat and corn production, eco-tourism gained a foothold, and attracted health-conscious Europeans to the islands.
The Azores in Numbers
Population: 247,372 Settlement: 1432 (Discovered by the Portuguese) Area: 105,790 ha
Average annual temperature: Winter: 13ºC (55 ºF) | Summer: 23º (73ºF) Cattle: 267,000 (there are more cows than people)
When whaling ended: 1987
How to get there: Azores Airlines is the only company in Canada that offers flights to the Azores and between the islands.
TOP 5 REASONS TO VISIT THE AZORES
1 – Nature: Few destinations match the natural beauty of the Azores. Mountains soar up to the sky, deep lakes formed in craters of dormant volcanoes, gentle hills that roll out to the ocean, and floral splashes of blue and pink daubed on an vibrant green canvas;
2 – Wildlife: Diverse flora and fauna flourish untamed in the Azores. The highlight for many nature lovers is spotting sperm whales and dolphins passing by;
3 – Soft adventure: There are countless walking and hiking possibilities for all levels, with or without a guide, and great mountain biking;
4 – Peace and Tranquility: Perfect destination for anyone wanting to escape the stress of daily life;
5 -People: Friendly and very welcoming.
AZORES, A PARADISE FOR NATURE LOVERS
Higher numbers of tourists from Canada and US
Between 2012-2015, there was a large increase in the number of overnight stays by visitors who originated from markets like the United States and Canada. In 2015, there were nearly 86,100 overnight visitors originating from the U.S, representing a 125% increase. That rate of growth is almost identical coming from the Canadian Market.
These results were made possible thanks to the strengthening of flight connections by the Azores Airlines, and as well as to new promotion policies that showcasing the Azores. These successful numbers are also a result of combined sales efforts by private entities and a significant increase in interest in the Azores as a destination.
Vitor Fraga, Regional Secretary of Tourism and Transportation of the Azores
Azores Airlines is the only Company in Canada to offer flights to the Azores
We are very pleased with the market acceptance of the new name AZORES AIRLINES, launched in the first half of this year. The brand is becoming increasingly known in the Canadian market. We are the only company in Canada that offers flights to the Azores and between the islands themselves. The Azores does not compare to any place in the world. The archipelago of nine islands is located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and brings the uniqueness of its people and breathtaking natural beauty. It’s worth checking it out!
Carlos Botelho, Managing Director of SATA Express
Nine Islands, ONE Paradise
Think of impressive lakes, stunning waterfalls, astonishing peaks and lush greenery filled with colorful hydrangea pathways. The islands are a place full of distinctive excitement and fun, including bull fighting and bull runs, also home to many brilliant festivals and a hot spot for foodies. Each island features unique sights and history offers exciting and extraordinary itineraries; there is something for everyone to enjoy. The amazing Azores awaits you.
Tania Veca, Alitours International Inc.
DISCOVER magazine’s press trip was hosted by the Azores Promotion Board.