A Glimpse of Portugal’s Azores Islands

The Pacific has Hawaii and the Atlantic the Azores. The Azores are a cluster of 9 volcanic islands located in near the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The territory is under Portugal flag, but they are mostly autonomously governed. These paradise islands to some have been called heaven on earth- lush vegetation, stunning mountains, stunning marine life, golden beaches, and not overpopulated. One of the islands- Santa Maria- is inhabited by a mere 5,500 people. Many of Azores island names relate to nature: Pico for mountain island and Flores for flower island. The major sources of income derive from agriculture, dairy farming, ranching, fishing, and tourism. They are also known for their renounced whale watching, rock climbing, and diving.

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Whale Watching
In the past, this cetacean safe heaven contributes much of its economy from whale hunting. Now the area and marine life are protected and cherished. Throughout the year, this island paradise is visited by common and bottlenose dolphins, and blue and humpback whales. It is a site were marine animals come for rest during their long migration. Tours of each island can be booked, but strict laws prohibit boats from disturbing the animals. Visitors can stop by at one of the many whale museums on land, displaying the culture’s drastic transformation from killing to protecting whale species.

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Hikers
The Azores also has a strong allure for hikers. The mountains here are some of the tallest in the world if you were to measure from the ocean floor. Mount. Pico is the most famous, ranging from 7,713 feet above sea level. It has over 60 trails that usually take up to 3 hours to hike. From those trails, two of the most popular sites are the São Miguel’s Setes Cidades twin lakes and Lagoa do Fogo which takes you to the shore. The island of Flores is a famous hiking site, well-known for the land’s extreme natural beauty.

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Diving
With the frequent whale and dolphin sightings, this would be a great diving site, but the water holds many more surprises. The volcanos not only provide for nutrient water, but the lava creates winding caverns and rock formations for many species to thrive. Exploring below the surface, divers can find Devil Rays, Loggerhead Turtles, Sharks, Slipper Lobsters, Yellow Mouth Barracuda, Tuna and plenty more. Along with this, you can stumble upon one of the decaying shipwrecks. Most of the Islands provide for dive trips and with the visibility as high as 100 ft. and water temp around 70F, it is one experience that would not be easily forgotten.

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josh-may Hello! I’m Josh and I’m a journalism and business student from the U.S. I grew up near Boston but now I’m living in Thailand. In the past I’ve been a ski instructor, waiter, and camp counselor. Now I’ve taken up the pen and want to develop my skills as a writer. I got hooked on traveling last December. I found the microscopic image of my town and realized how much of the earth I hadn’t seen. Since then I’ve had a fire in my belly to see and do as much as I can. My experience here in Thailand has been so great and now I’m eager to share and inspire others to get out, it’s worth it! You can keep in contact with me at LinkedInUpwork or Facebook.

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