Over a thousand kilometres off Portugal's west coast sit the Azores Islands, an archipelago of nine islands in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. Ecotourism in the Azores is nothing short of ideal, with biodiversity of both flora and fauna, as well as an array of activities to keep you occupied. Whether you're looking for wildlife exploration above ground or under the sea, or want to spend your days splashing around in the clear waters, you can be sure that the Azores will deliver one impressive ecotourism experience.
Water, Water, Everywhere
When you go to the Azores, prepare to spend most of your time in the water. Even if that's not your original intention, you won't be able to help yourself once you see the beauty of the ocean; it will entice you before you have time to blink.
Surfing is a popular activity, and if you can read or understand Portuguese, it seems as though Wave Riders A?ores are the guys in the know. Wave Riders A?ores are located on S?o Miguel, supposedly the best of the Azores for surfing, due to the exceptional swells and virtually empty waves - you won't have to watch as other surfers grab the good waves; they're pretty much all yours for the taking!
If heading underwater is your thing, the Azores has some excellent scuba diving opportunities waiting for you. An impressive ecotourism activity in the Azores, scuba diving here yields wildlife spotting that includes dolphins, manta rays, octopus, turtles, and even sperm whales. Some of the best spots for scuba diving include the southern shores of S?o Miguel, where Nerus operates tours, courses, and lessons in scuba and snorkelling (even swimming with dolphins, if you wish!). Nerus offers a long list of PADI certified courses, including Cavern Diver, Divemaster, and Underwater Naturalist. Whether you're diving for the first time, or a serious diver looking to achieve a new certification, Nerus will give you one of the best experiences in the Azores.
At the end of the day, we all want a comfortable place to come home to, which is why apartment rentals are one of the most popular options for accommodation in the Azores. There are a number of different providers of holiday rentals, including the popular and well-respected HomeAway.co.uk. Holiday rentals are a great option for ecotourists seeking a local, more sustainable form of accommodation.
On the island of Faial, Casa Azores' Sabugo House is an ideal place to stay. A restored stone farmhouse retains the character of an old Azorean cottage, but with modern amenities, and a fantastic location. Faial is the best island for swimming and bathing, as it has more hidden, scenic swimming spots than any other island, including Comprido, near the Capelinhos Volcano, which is surrounded on three sides by stunning rock walls. Also be sure to check out the popular black sand beaches of Praia do Almoxariffe, and the secluded tranquillity of Praia de Pedro Miguel.
Savour Azorean Flavours
Staple dishes of Azorean cuisine vary between the islands, but one thing that remains consistent is the diversity of local foods. Due to the rich resource of fish, they play a central role in the cuisine. However, the islands are also producers of excellent meat and cheese, which also feature heavily in the culinary scene of the Azores.
Regardless of which island you visit, you can't go wrong with a good fish stew (Caldeiradas de peixe) or fish broth (Caldos de peixe), and on S?o Miguel, word is the fresh, sweet pineapple (ananas) is second to none. When it comes to drinks, the passionfruit liquer of S?o Miguel, Licor de maracuj?, and Verdelho from Pico is famed for being served to Czars.
Ecotourism in the Azores
Despite their small size, the Azores Islands have a lot to offer. Their exceptional and varied fresh cuisine, impressive scenery, and diverse wildlife make ecotourism in the Azores an exciting and relatively straightforward endeavour. Whether you're looking to spend time eating, drinking, riding waves, or gliding below them, you can be sure your ecotourism experience in the Azores will be one to remember.