Sao Miguel: this somewhat hidden gem is the largest and most populous island that makes up the archipelago known as the Azores. Part of Portugal, the island is less than a 6 hour direct flight from the east coast of North America and is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts who want a little culture mixed into their travels. We spent time on this beautiful island and then flew to mainland Portugal, an itinerary I suggest for a balanced, satisfying and thrilling visit.
The city centre Ponta Delgada is made up of old architecture that you’d expect in any european city, with cobblestone filled streets and small independent hotels and bakeries. I recommend taking a day to explore the city of 45,000 but the real fun in Sao Miguel is the outdoor activities throughout the entire island. We were there to shoot an episode of my travel/fishing tv show Hookin’ Up so we were well taken care of by the local tourism board, allowing us to experience a lot in a short amount of time.
In no particular order, here are some fun activities I recommend you include in your itinerary:
Mountain biking. Sao Miguel is known for its challenging trails, but it also has beginner trails, so no matter your level of expertise, it’s an outdoor activity that you can take advantage of. If you’re really into mountain biking, you’ll LOVE this place. My guides were avid mountain bikers and we filmed them doing a portion of the more challenging trails, and it looked super fun. Contact Azores Adventure Islands to hook you up.
Canyoning. I only tried the rapelling part of the available adventure, but they offer full on exploration of the canyons. I rapelled down a waterfall and it gave me just the right amount of adrenaline and excitement. Not to mention it was beautiful. Again, contact Azores Adventure Islands for this one. They were super knowledgeable and professional.
SUP/Stand up Paddle boarding. Besides losing one of our Go Pro cameras to some slippery-ness, this experience was lovely. Once again, the guys from Azores Adventure Islands set us up on the gorgeous Furnas Lake and we paddled throughout the entire body of water. This is a good activity for all, regardless of age, fitness or adventure-seeking level (and for those who desire more of a challenge, they have locations that increase the difficulty).
Sport fishing. The best time to go if you want to increase your chances of having a full and eventful day on the water is between May and September. You’re fishing the Atlantic so depending on when you go, Marlin, Tuna and Dorado are options, as well as smaller “easier” fish. The team at Seazores is truly a full service kind of fishing outfitter. When we caught some bonitos and barracuda, our captain took us to the most charming little town where a local restaurant cooked up our fish for lunch. The ingredients they used were simple and DELICIOUS – exactly the way you envision a traditional mediterranean meal to be. Try to book two days of fishing if you can, because this is the one activity where the outcome is never foreseeable. And if you’re prone to to sea sickness, simply take an anti-nausea pill the night before so that you sleep off the grogginess but can still freely enjoy the day on the water. In addition to fishing and fresh lunch cooked from your catch in a town full of character, the captain can take you past the famous Islet of Vila Franca do Campo, a sublime and beautiful sight to see (especially when considering competitors dive off the top!).
Explore the countryside. Sao Miguel’s biggest industry is agriculture and its farmland and surrounding area are very picturesque. If you can get a driver to take you along the countryside, there’s a lot to see.
Whale watching. In our two hours on a really fun dinghy, we got up close and personal with dozens of pilot whales and dolphins. Contact Futurismo for this same trip.