Referred to as Ilha Verde or “The Green Island” São Miguel is home almost 70% of the people who live in the Azores and about one third of them live in the capital of Ponta Delgada. Ponta Delgada is the residence of the president. Not far from the city is one of the Azores international airports and cruise ships frequent the city’s harbor. Sao Miguel is the Island most frequently visited by tourists.
The Island was the second to be found by Goncalo Velho Cabral in 1427. A statue of whom is found near the “Portas da Cidade” of gates of the city, remnants of the old city wall and possibly the most photographed object in the city. Nearly as stunning as the gates were the intricately patterned courtyard.
Open spaces and sidewalks around are found throughout the city made which are made of basalt and limestone. This leg of my travels was funded by building patios for captain Bruce so I had an appreciation for the workmanship.
Portugal was one of the world’s great naval power and as such no port would be compete without a fort. Overlooking the port is the star shaped Forte Sao Bras, built in 1550. A visit to the fort costs 2 euros and is well worth the visit for those interested in maritime or military history. Folks who are squeamish about gun or who would prefer not to desensitize their children with view of weapons might consider skipping this site and displays of weaponry from various eras are predominantly displayed.
Cete Cidades on the Northeast of the island is a must visit. Above the city towers a massive crater with two lakes. There are two small calderas in the larger crater. There is some excellent hiking along the rim of the caldera.
Another worthwhile hike is the Salto do Cabrito valley which feature views of a quaint seaside village and waterfalls with swimmable pools. Ocean swimming very popular for the people of the Azores and there are a number around the island. Near Ferraria there is a swimming hole is naturally heated with hot water.
The Furnas region also boasts another water-filled crater Logoa fo Fogo and the nearby town of Furnas which boasts a large hot springs surrounded by spectacular gardens. Be certain to leave time to wander the gardens as well as soak.
There were a few activities recommended by locals that we did not have a change to experience. Nordeste (northeast) is the wildest side of the island where it was suggested we visit Ponta da Madrugada. Driving a car here is akin to driving down a bobsled course. Rental cars were affordable but people not used to mountain driving would do well to hire a driver. Lagoa Congo, Porto Formosa, Rocha da Relva were also recommended by people who live on São Miguel.