The east coast of Sao Miguel island is the wild part of the island with rygged nature and very few people living there.
It used to have no road connection to the rest of the island and it's less than two years ago that they had a really good road connection to the rest of the island so the settlements there are somewhat limited and that gives it a really nice natural feeling.
The road is running 4-500 meters above sea level giving you some excellent views over the sea and you have a really nice combination of wirld nature and nicely kept roadside with lot's of flowers.
As we were on a cruise and only had one day on the island of Sao Miguel we decided to have a tour of the island.Amazing Tours was the company we used and we had a great time.Our driver Carlos spoke perfect English and had a vast knowledge of the island.At the end of the tour he even took us to the supermarket so that we could purchase some supplies.
At first I was very sceptical about visiting at a pineapple plantation of Ponta Delgada but it turned to be nice trip to village of Faja de Baixo.
I took a local bus to Faja de Baixo and a bus driver promised to tell me when to step out. In the plantation I got a presentation of pineapples and greenhouses were open for visitors.
I also bought some of my gifts from the pineapple shop! :)
Faja de Baixo is very close to Ponta Delgada so I walked back.
The most volcanic location in Azores is located a half hour drive from Ponta Delgada.
I took a bus and had chance to enjoy the views without driving! :)
In Furnas you have plenty to do for one day;
have a walk to a lake Furnas and its hot springs(takes about 40 minutes),
visit in Terra Nostra park and swim in its yellow spring,
relax in springs of Dona Beija close to Terra Nostra park,
see the hot spring area and eat Cozido for a lunch (it’s the must in Furnas!!).
Visit first in a local tourist info, they were very helpful!
There are many companies offering Whale tours in Ponta Delgada.
Futurismo is the most advertised but I choose Pico de Adventure which turned to be very professional one with lower price.
They give you a presentation after what they contact their whale watching towers to get information if any whales are around.
After that you can decide if you take the tour or a later one.
Warm Bathing-pool in the middle of the nature. Water warmed by volcanic magma layer is about 35 C warm so you can have a path even it’s a little bit colder. I loved the nature around this little pool and waterfall.
We took a taxi from Ribeira Grande and made a deal of the trip and lengths of stops before hand with reasonable price. So you don't need your own car to get here!
In Furnas there are at least 2 places where you can bath.
One of them is Poça Dona Beija and the other is Parque Terra Nostra. Both have warm, natural ferrous water - they say its good for the skin.
Poça Dona Beija has 3 small pools, one of them has really hot water, only some people manage to bath in there. The complex has toilets and showers (only cold water).
Parque Terra Nostra has a big pool, surrounded by beautiful gardens.
If I had to choose one place to go over the other, I'd choose Parque Terra Nostra.
In August 2011 the entrance fee for Poça Dona Beija was 2€ and Parque Terra Nostra 5€.
Now a precious tip: Bring a dark bikini/swimming suit/whatever, or alternatively an old one that you don't care about anymore. The ferrous water leaves orange stains on the fabric that are almost impossible to get rid of.
If you already stained your swimming suit, try squeezing a lemon over the stain, powder it with salt and leave it in direct sun exposure. Then perform regular washing. It's not 100% effective though.
Sete cidades is a big vulcanic crater aswell as a village in the crater on Sao Miguel.
The crater has two lakes that are a little different in color.
One is very green and the other is kinda blueish and seeing the crater from above is really nice.
Down in the crater you have a nice little village with a scenic little church and a small bridge seperating the two lakes.
All in all it makes a very nice excursion when you are visitng Sao Miguel.
Sao Miguel has a long tradition for Ceramics and pottery and you can go and see this if you visit the Ceramica Vieira factory in the town Lagoa a little east of Ponta Delgada.
The factory has a small museum and you can visit the workshops free of charge and see how they model and paint the ceramics.
Vila Franca is a small town east of Ponta Delgada that has a bit of history to it as it was the first capital of the Azores, even if it was just for a few years.
These days it´s a quiet fishing village with a nice setting by the sea and a nice rocky coastline with a couple of small nice beaches.
Vila Franca does get some tourism but not really that much and it´s a nice place to visit if you want peace and quiet aswell as some narrow little streets where you can explore rural portugese lifestyle.
Vila Franca is big enough to have proper shopping facilities and restaurants, post office hotels etc, but it´s still a small place with a very provincial feel to it.
Lagoa de fogo is a crater lake on the center of the island that you can either hike to or drive tp the top of and enjoy the fantastic view.
It´s not the biggest crater lake on the island, but one of the most scenic.
Ribeira Grande is located on the north coast of the island and is the second biggest town on Sao Miguel.
It has a very nice town center where you have the gorge that the town is named after and a couple of very interesting churhes aswell as a nice theater.
Ribeira Grande is the best alternative to Ponta Delgada as a base when visiting Sao Miguel, but if you don´t decide to stay there then you should visit the place one day.
It is only about half an hour by bus from Ponta Delgada.
Nordeste is a very scenic town on the north eastern part of the island and even if it is not the most visited town on the island because of the distance there then i stropngly suggest that you pay a visit to Nordeste as it´s a real scenic little town surronded by some very nice dramatic nature.
Nordeste is also the center of local handicrafts and you should try and visit "casa do tranbbalho" while you are there.
The townhall, the main chursh and the bridge are some of the main places to visit aswell and you should try and spend at least half a day there.
Furnas is a nice little town situated in a vulcanic crater on the center of the island.
Furnas has quite a lot of vulcanic activity and you see the steam coming out of the ground right in the center of town aswell as you have a couple of geysers there.
One think that makes Furnes something special to visit is also that they have holes in the ground just outside of town where they bury large pots of food in the morning and then dig it up at noon and sell it in various restaurants around town.
If going there then you should stop on top of the crater before going down and enjoy the fantastic view and having lunch there at one of the restaurants is a must too even if the local cuisine can be a little heavy there.
Parque Terra Nostra is a botanical garden set up in 1780 by american business man Thomas Hickling who lived most of his life on the Azores and was married to a local woman.
He imported plants and trees from all over the world and they can now be seen at the park.
There is also a thermal bath at the botanical garden that you can use once you have paid the 5 euro entry.
There is also a hotel connected to the botanical garden that you can stay at if you want to spend the night there.