Sarah and Ian have just returned from their annual Azores family activity holiday adventure. This time they took a gang of 11 friends and family (aged 6-53) to spectacular São Miguel on the last Gatwick direct flight of the year.
Our Azores family activity holiday
Going so late in the season, it’s always a good idea to be based on the south coast of the island where the weather is best so we split our group between the glamorous mini stately home that is Casa Rocha Quebrada and the family friendly Quinta Altamira.
Always a favourite with our children, our first day out was to the geothermal pool in the volcanic basin of Furnas set in the world famous Terra Nostra botanical garden.
Then on to the shore of Furnas Lake where casseroles are left in holes in the steaming ground to stew over 8 hours until the meat is tender. A smelly but delicious affair!
Horse riding in the Azores
With three keen riders in the group, a visit to Christina at Quinta da Terca was a must. She has a B&B in a traditional manor house and stables, grazing and an indoor arena in the grounds. Her 35 horses are Lusitano and half of them are ‘rescues’ from around the island. Our ride explored the countryside around the Quinta passing between high basalt walls which once protected the important orange trees and on paths through subtropical ‘jungle’. The horses were so well schooled we were able to relax and enjoy the views.
Spectacular Azores canyoning
The highlight for all of us was our canyoning trip with Paulo and Teresa on the north coast of São Miguel in Caldeiroes Superior near Achada. We parked up at a stunning waterfall and renovated watermill and put on our wetsuits, helmets, harnesses, neoprene socks and canyoning boots (all provided). A 20 minute walk up the side of the canyon took us to our first abseil of many followed by some optional jumps. Our final one was 6m and proved too much for some of the adults but the children loved it.
Swimming with dolphins
Well, it wasn’t quite swimming but we did see dolphins. The 2m swell provided an exhilarating roller coaster ride on our RIB to a pod of common dolphins with their distinctive hourglass markings. This is a wild experience and our driver and marine biologist didn’t feel it was safe to swim with sea so rough and we felt that was the right decision.
Volcanic sandy beaches and surf
The wind may have stopped us swimming with dolphins, but it provided some impressive surf to enjoy on the sandy beaches around the island. At any opportunity, the children were body surfing but you can also have surfing lessons and hire boards on the north coast at Ribeira Grande.
Walking and birdwatching at Sete Cidades
The largest and most impressive crater in the Azores is Sete Cidades with its iconic twin lakes. We chose to do a beautiful 8km walk from a viewpoint on top of the crater along the rim and down into the small village nestled inside. There we met Gerby, our birdwatching guide who showed us his lakeshore project which is allowing parts of the shore to become wild again and provide more habitats for birds. He has also made a small ‘island’ which is tethered in the lake and provides a safe area for nesting birds. The highlight of his small tour was finding three long eared owls (the only owls in the Azores) camouflaged in a tree by the lake. The children enjoyed finding their pellets at the foot of the tree and picking out the mouse bones!
This was a busy week and although the weather wasn’t perfect being late in the season, we still had plenty of sun, the ocean was a very comfortable 20 degrees and we managed to do lots of activities. For active families, you couldn’t find a better destination than the Azores for an amazing family holiday.
Find out more about our Azores holidays
At Archipelago Choice, our small friendly team of island holiday specialists has been organising tailor-made holidays to the Azores since 1998 and more recently to Cape Verde, Madeira and Saõ Tomé and Príncipe. Over this time we have developed the most comprehensive, flexible and fairly priced holidays to these beautiful islands.
All the holidays we organise are put together with great care using our extensive knowledge of the islands and our experience of travelling around them. We try very hard to give the most choice and flexibility possible combining activities, accommodation and island hopping so we put together holidays that best suit our clients.
So whether you want to go whale watching, walking, canyoning, kite surfing or just relaxing on the beach, you can be sure our team of island holiday specialists will be able to help.
Contact us now and we’ll help together one of our amazing Azores walking holidays tailored especially to you