All the colours of the Azores

Date Posted: 04/07/2012

Boasting a spectrum of colourful sights, discover what makes the Azores such a special destination.

The little-known islands of the Azores make for a great year-round destination for a group holiday.

Each island offers something different and special-interest groups will be in their element, particularly those with green fingers.

With exotic flowers growing wild, basalt-wall-protected vines, tree ferns, dramatic red-leaved cannas, cerulean-hued hydrangeas in the hedgerows, agapanthus heads bobbing, and fuchsias self-propagating in dry-stone walls; the Azores promotes itself as the ideal destination for gardening groups.

For groups with a love of the great outdoors, there’s plenty to explore, with tiny chapels to be discovered, whale and dolphin-watching, Europe’s most westerly tea plantation, and glasshouses growing the sweetest pineapples.

Explore the Azores

Sao Miguel, the green island: The main island offering a myriad of activities, from festivals a-plenty (see the streets covered with azaleas for the Festa Sr dos Enfermos, in April) to Jeep safaris, from horse riding to swimming in rock pools, from walking to whale and dolphin-watching, from canoeing to cycling; soak up the sights of this green paradise. Azorean pineapples are grown in Fajo de Baixo and geothermal pools bubble at Furnas. Try a geological history tour, visit the Terra Nostra Botanical Garden, dating from 1935, or learn about bird-watching on the island.

Santa Maria, the island of the sun: The oldest island of the archipelago, Santa Maria is where Christopher Columbus sought refuge in 1493 on his return from voyaging to America. Enjoy the best beaches, a central mountainous area and a nature reserve.

Terceira, the lilac island: Offering culture in the form of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Angra do Heroismo, dating from the late 15th century. Scattered across the island are no less than 68 ‘Imperias’ - tiny chapels dedicated to the Holy Spirit.

Graciosa, the white island: Best known for its windmills, famous for its cakes and the freshest of fish and shellfish - plus its own wine and cheese.

Sao Jorge, the brown island: Supports 20,000 dairy cattle. Watch the farmers go from field to field with their milk churns to milk the cows, and enjoy visiting the modest cheese factory and tasting Sao Jorge’s signature cheddar-like cheese.

Pico, the grey island: Features the volcano of Pico, Portugal’s highest point - climb it with a guide and enjoy sunrise over the islands. Try the wine and visit the fascinating whaling museum before spotting whales from old look-out points.

Faial, the blue island: Where the transatlantic yachties stop off en-route during their trips. The buzzing port of Horta boasts Peter’s Cafe plus its signature gin and tonic.  The island is blue with hydrangeas from June to August.

Flores and Corvo, the Atlantic’s Garden and the black island: The western-most islands of the archipelago and thus the least-visited. On Flores see 20 waterfalls tumbling down a high cliff and enjoy way marked trails. On Corvo, see a huge 3.5km wide caldera, plus migrating birds - and meet some of its mere 400 inhabitants.

A grand group tour

Sunvil Discovery - specialist operators to the Azorean archipelago for 22 years - offers year-round group holidays to these mid-Atlantic islands.

Group travel organisers wishing to include more than one island on their itinerary can opt for a Grand Tour of the Azores, linking six or more islands. Sunvil Discovery also offers tailor-made options.

Useful contact:

Sunvil Discovery:
020-8758 4722
www.sunvil.co.uk/azores

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