Flora of the Azores
The flora of the Azores is one of the most interesting in Europe due to natural characteristic that are common to Macaronesia, the geographical region to which the archipelago belongs (together with Madeira, Canary Islands and Cape Verde). The vegetation of the Azores is determined by Atlantic climate - mild winters and relatively cool summers with heavy rains scattered throughout the year - and the fertility of the soil is what makes the islands so abundant in natural parks, huge gardens and green pastures bordered by colourful flowers.
The Azorean flora is not only characterised by the usual Atlantic plant species, but also by Mediterranean, tropical and a wide range of cosmopolitan species. The luxuriant natural vegetation consists of more than 1200 trees, shrubs and flowers, about 60 out of them are endemic to the Azores. Many plant species present on the islands are exotic, such as beautiful ginger plant (that originates from Himalaya), Blue Trumpet flower and Yucca cactus, and were brought to the archipelago by the early colonisers.
Special mention should be made to Cryptomeria (Japanese cedar), very tall examples Araucaria tree, Metrosídero, a tree with beautiful red flowers, Hydrangeas and Azaleas. Green pastures and Japanese cedar woods create a typical Azorean landscape. Hydrangeas are plentiful and quite spectacular as they line the roads and hills of the islands.
Sao Miguel has a fairly large commercial production of pineapples.
This is quite strange as the climate is not ideal for pineapple production at all, but it was started long ago when it was expensive to import pineapples from the new world and therefor they started a production on the Azores.
These days the production is still going strong, but it´s doubtful if it will continue as it is very expensive to grow pineapples on the Azores because of the relatively cold climate.
But while the production is still going on you have the chance to visit the plantations and taste their product and i think you should do that as it´s quite interesting and a chance to see something that might not be here in 20 years time.
Festas do Divino Espírito Santo
Holy Spirit Festivities are celebrated in all islands, commencing with Pentecostal Sunday and many Sundays following it, differ in characteristics from island to island and town to town. The similarities are, the “Grande Coroação”, (Great Crowning) and the distribution of food especially the “Sopas do Império”, (Imperial Soup), as tradition dictates.
Surfing is quite big on Sao Miguel.
You have both bodysurfers and windsurfers there, but the bodysurfers are probaply the most visible.
Sao Miguel has both very strong winds and quite big waves manking the conditions for both kinds of surfing good.
Natural heated Swimming pool
Have you ever swum in The Atlantic Ocean?
Have you ever swum in the atlantic Ocean while it´s 27 degrees Celsius?
If you have answered no on the second question you should go to the Portuguese island São Miguel and Ponta da Ferraria. After a deep descent of about 50-70m on a narrow serpentine gravel road you are actually not thinking of going swimming anymore, your´e just happy about you and your car coming down in one piece.
After a small walk across the characteristic black lava rocks that surrounds the island you have finally reached your goal of the hot natural swimming pool of ponta da Ferraria. The pool is actually a small lagoon shaped as an ellipse embedded in the black lava rocks with a small opening straight into the atlantic ocean whose waves constantly break across the sharp rocks.
a hot spring heatens the water in the lagoon up to 27 degrees Celsius (when I swam there) and may even become hotter at some days. The temperature of the water depends strongly on the tide and the best times to go are early in the morning or in the afternoon.
A word of caution though...
The currents in the lagoon are quite strong so general precaution should be taken to avoid beeing pulled towards the sharp cliffs.
Ponta da Ferraria is located at the western point of the Island and is accessible by car. When I was there(2008) the condition of the roads were bad or extremely bad.