Photo Credit: David Stanley

Azores is the perfect retreat for those looking to relax and soak up the natural attractions and splendid countryside found all over the archipelago. The abundance of spectacular lakes, volcanic peaks, and formidable cliffs make for some great things to do including walks, treks, and bicycle rides, and there are a number of tour operators on hand to help inquisitive travelers get the most out of their stay on these spectacular islands.

Many visitors base themselves in bustling Ponta Delgada, Azores’ main gateway, from where a plethora of car, bus, and boat tours depart. In addition to whale watching excursions, many marinas also offer swimming with the dolphins and fishing trips. There is also an abundance of activities to pursue inland, including treks up Pico Mountain and trips to culturally-rich sites such as Angra, which was a significant location for voyages to the New World.

Whale watching is one of the archipelago’s top attractions and draws hordes of visitors each year. The fascinating creatures can be spotted as close to 10 miles off the coast, including sperm, pilot and beaked whales. Archipelago Choice vessels even have onboard hydrophones, enabling guests to listen to the whales communicate.

Azores is renowned as one of the world’s top destinations for swimming with dolphins, and it is easy to see why. More than eight species of dolphin call these waters home and they tend to travel in groups known as pods. Naturally inquisitive, dolphins are known to swim alongside humans, offering a truly memorable experience. Agencia de Viagens e Turismo, based on Faial, arranges regular dolphin outings.

One of the finest way to explore the islands is on foot is to join one of the many walking tours. Discover the crater lakes of Sao Miguel, the volcanic landscape of Sao Jorge, and Faial’s spectacular cliffs through the locally operated trips from Melo Travel.

Alternatively, check out the islands on four wheels by off-roading through volcanic craters and along breathtaking cliffs. 4x4 excursions on Sao Miguel usually stop at the impressive Fire and Furnas lakes, where you can jump out and take a dip. Numerous tour operators arrange jeep tours, including Archipelago Choice.

Sit back and set sail for a fabulous day of fishing in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Hundreds of schools of fish can be found off the coasts, including swordfish, barracuda and big eye tuna, yet the most prized catch around the Azores is the Atlantic blue marlin, which can weigh more than 800 pounds. Azoresferias arranges regular trips for visitors.

Another relaxing way to spend the day is on the golf course. Golfing in this fantastic landscape is great year-round due to the ideal climate. There is a choice of three courses across the archipelago. One of the most impressive and most convenient is the Vila Nova, located close to Angra. While it is the oldest, dating back to 1954, it offers top facilities and is well-maintained. Azores Golf Island can assist in arranging a few leisurely rounds.

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