Gems of Portugal: Adventurous Azores Vacation for Families

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Total Trip:

8 Days
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Countries Visited:

Portugal
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Places Visited:

Azores, Sao Miguel Island, Ponta Delgada, Nossa Senhora da Esperanca Convent, Ginetes, Ferraria, Fogo, Fire Lake, Calderia Velha, Ribeira Grande, Faial Island,

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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Magical and mystical, the Azores stand isolated in the Atlantic as volcanic islands of rare and remarkable beauty. Defined by the abounding wild nature, these islands create a unique family adventure that will engage all ages. Swim with the dolphins, wander underground lava trails, kayak on blue lakes and explore an untouched archipelago. Handcrafted for families with children aged eight and over, this luxury tour showcases the highlights of Portugal with each day a thrilling expedition into the

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Day 1

Sao Miguel Island (Ponta Delgada) – Enduring Beauty and Tranquility of the Azores

The Azores rise like sentinels in the ocean with dramatic pinnacles that once looked upon explorers that made their first intrepid journeys across the Atlantic. These are islands of remarkable beauty crafted by the drama of volcanoes and surrounded by the serenity of the waves. Sao Miguel is the largest and most developed of the islands, with the small town of Ponta Delgada your base for the first several nights. From your plane window, you will know why it is called the Green Island, with pastoral fields blurring into lush forests and emerald waters. You will also get a sense of how isolated these islands are, a third of the way from Lisbon to New York.

A quiet coastline is within a few minutes walk from your hotel, and the cute little streets harken back to the legacy of the whalers while the backdrop of volcanic cliffs can make anyone feel humbled by nature. Down by the water the colors swirl with greens and blues of all imaginable tones. You will find that this is a landscape where the children can explore freely and safely, and one where nature is of such impressive scale, it can make anyone feel inspired. This is also a landscape where you can go on an adventure together, with hardly another person in sight. You will be greeted at the airport as you arrive and transferred to a family hotel in Ponta Delgada, where the day is at your leisure. Relax at the pool, explore the museum and convent in the town, and then take a walk down narrow streets to the southern coastline as you all settle in.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Accommodation

included

Breakfast

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Day 2

Sao Miguel Island (Ponta Delgada) – Culture and Tradition of the Green Island in the Atlantic

Across swathes of Sao Miguel Island, you can admire the beauty of pastoral life. Communities have thrived here for centuries, and their simple lifestyle rises from tradition. Your family will step into the history here as you help to milk the cows or bake bread the old-world way. Cute stone houses create enduring images, made more authentic by traditional games played along with the village kids. These reveal a culture that has developed distinctly from the rest of Portugal and Europe, inspired by the snippets of customs brought by fishermen and whalers. You will enjoy lunch in one of the villages that will likely include fruit drinks, sausage, bread and cakes, and then spend the afternoon along the south coast of the island.

The south of Sao Miguel is a tranquil place to relax as a family while being humbled by the power of Mother Nature. Small craters become natural swimming pools, the water warmed by a crack in the volcanic crust below. Cliffs are also sublime viewpoints onto the multiple hues of the water. Move into the evening, and you will find a good selection of restaurants in Ponta Delgada are all within short walking distance of your hotel. By now, you will have settled into the rhythm of the Azores as the cadence of nature takes center stage and nothing is overly rushed.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 3

Sao Miguel Island (Ponta Delgada) – Swimming With Wild Dolphins and a Jeep Safari Across the Island

Bottlenose dolphins jump clear from the water with perhaps half a dozen rising in unison. Peculiar Risso’s dolphins are nearby for more marine frolickers as your morning boat tour continues. The spotted dolphins are faster and more athletic, sometimes spinning through the air as they jump clear of the water. You will be admiring these wild dolphins from the boat, and then you may be swimming in their waters to join the playful characters in their natural habitat. A snorkeling mask will enable you to follow the mammals as they play below the waves. The dolphins are wild, and the captain will stop the boat and cut the engine to invite the curious mammals to approach you as you drop into the water and savor an incredible intimacy with these residents of the Atlantic Ocean.

From one adventure to another, your family will then continue your day on land as after lunch, you will bounce across Fogo, a natural reserve of waterfalls and ethereal lakes. It will feel as though you are alone in the wild, and you can almost hear the silence. Among the stops in the afternoon will be the Fire Lake, which is both mystically blue and serene, and then the Caldeira Velha waterfall which is naturally heated to provide an indulgent swimming experience. Continue along with an adventurous four-wheel drive to Ribeira Grande, where there will be an opportunity to sample typical fruit liquors (alcoholic and non-alcoholic for the kids) before returning to Ponta Delgada.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 4

Faial Island – Vibrant Volcanic History and the Eery Blue Island

From your plane window, it will be apparent why Faial is known as the Blue Island. Vibrant hydrangeas line the roadsides, subtle shades mark the houses, and strange blue flowers divide the farm fields. All of this is settled beneath the looming pinnacles of active volcanoes as part of an island that is almost entirely gazetted as a nature reserve. After the early morning flight, you will be greeted by a new guide and stop for a second breakfast, before ascending to the epic Caldeira, a towering crater with vistas over the Atlantic and tomorrow’s destination, Pico Island.

Drive through the blue hydrangeas, their serenity a contrast to the staggering sight of Capelinhos Volcano as black volcanic rocks tumble down the slopes, towards the ash and sand and waves. Evidence of the 1958 eruption is everywhere as scorched black is the dominant color on this side of the island. You will make a guided visit to the volcano’s interpretation center for an educational insight into the cause and effect of Capelinhos, and then be transferred to your hotel from here, a picturesque base in the small town of Horta. Check in and enjoy a leisurely lunch before a walking tour of the town. Constructed by whalers and whiffing of fishing culture, the little town offers something different for your family.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Flight

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast, Lunch

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Day 5

Faial Island (Pico Island Day Trip) – A Protected Trail of Lava Soil Vineyards and Subterranean Drama

Pico Volcano rises dramatically and soars 2,350 meters out of the ocean. The upper slopes are barren, brutal yet beautifully shaped as a perfect volcanic cone. The middle slopes are jagged, swathes of black rocks and cliffs that hang over the waves. These provide the backdrop to your exploration of the lower slopes with a patchwork of magma and lava landscapes that have evolved over time. You will take a 30-minute boat ride to Pico Island and explore a UNESCO World Heritage protected trail. Wander through the lava soil vineyards, traverse the rugged rocks above the ocean, piece your way between natural stone walls and then descend into the remains of subterranean magma rivers.

Surreal colors line the underworld, made even more strange by the rock formations they grace that line your journey out towards lava beds and lakes, where gardens reveal the inimitability of nature. Much like the more famous Galapagos Islands, the Azores are home to endemic flora and fauna, the result of ancient volcanic explosions and isolation. After lunch, you will continue to discover Pico Island, from the old whale ports to the lagoons hidden from the world. It is a near-deserted island in the 21st century, a real symbol of the Azores’ mystique. Return to Faial late in the afternoon and the evening will be at your leisure.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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Day 6

Sao Miguel Island (Sete Cidades to Ponta Delgada) – Biking and Kayaking Adventure Around Sete Cidades Lake

The short flight to the west of Sao Miguel will bring dazzling views of the archipelago. Colors twist and swirl, crafted by the inimitable palate of nature. Some sparkle, others loom like a shadow.  Still more have a glassy appearance from above, and you will all be captivated. You will touch down in a remote corner of the island where the twin Sete Cidades lakes provide the setting for a full day of family adventure. Endemic flora skirts the edges of the lakes that sit in a dormant volcanic crater. The water drifts from jade green to sparkling blue as the sun creates new hues as they bounce down from above a volcano.

First, you will cycle and bump around the lakes on mountain bikes. It will be an expedition across the wilderness as the craters open out down below as the wheels kick up swirls of volcanic dust. From your bike saddles, you will move into kayaks as your adventure continues with you paddling across the lakes to dip your fingers into the strangely colored water. Energy will soar through you all as the experience in the Azores brings a wonderful connection with the natural world. During your biking and kayaking adventure, you will enjoy a picnic lunch and then be transferred back to Ponta Delgada for the final two nights of your stay. As with all days on this family vacation, the tours are private and can be adjusted to your energy levels and interests of your family.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Flight

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast, Lunch

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Day 7

Sao Miguel Island (Ponta Delgada) – The Bubbling and Baffling Volcanic Beauty of the Furnas Lake Calderas

For your final full day of enchanting and extraordinary landscapes, you will explore the bubbling geological history of Sao Miguel. Spirals of steam rise from mossy rocks on the island’s interior, wisps emerge from bulbous mounds of earth, and pools of bubbling mud come in a range of metallic colors. Your noses will pick up on the sulfur, and by following the scent, you will soon find huge streams of volcanic discharge. First, you can explore as a family, and then you will discover how the locals have used the landscape’s energy. Beneath the ground are natural ovens, powered by the earth and perfect for slow cooking a stew. You can first get a view of how it works, and then soon taste the most famous dish on the island.

The volcanic soil is also packed with nutrients to create some of the world’s most fertile landscapes. It is all so fertile that the Terra Nostra Botanical Garden is overgrowing with thousands of exotic plants rising at random across the land. Following a walking trail together, you will come across hidden caves and thermal pools all within a remarkable garden of color. You can take a swim here, jumping right into the dark orange water that is packed with healing qualities. Later in the afternoon, you will return to Sao Miguel via the northern coast, which has its own inspiring landmarks and viewpoints.

What's Included:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast, Lunch

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Day 8

Sao Miguel Island – Departure

Due to your early morning transfer to the airport for your departure flight, your hotel will provide you with a special early breakfast before you leave. Flying away from Sao Miguel, you can all gaze out of your plane windows at the surreal archipelago before crossing thousands of miles of empty ocean before you see land again.

What's Included:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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