Whale watching is big on the Azores and Ponta Delgada has several companies offering it.
The Azores has a lot of whales, both several spieces of migrating whales aswell as quite a lot of sperm whales who reside there all year long.
There was commercial whaling on the Azores until 1986 but these days they make money out of showing the whales to the tourists and of the many companies offering it in Ponta Delgada there are a couple of real good ones with professional marine biologists working for them and a very responsible attitude.
I would highly recommend whale watching as it is spectacular and by creating a whale watching economy then there will be very few people wanting to back to hunting whales like you see people do in other parts of the world.
Of the companíes working with this in Ponta Delgada i would recommend "futurismo" or "picos de Aventura" as they are very good.
- Whale Watching
Visit the tobacco factory.
In Ponta Delgada you have a tobacco factory that produces cigarettes from the tobacco grown on the island and they also have a cigar production where they use tobacco leaves from other countries such as Indonesia, Hondouras and The Dominican Republic.
On thursdays they have free tours of the factory and they are quite interesting even if they are just lasting around 40 minutes.
Most of it shows you how they roll cigars in the factory and you hear some things about the tobacco production on the island.
Should you wish to buy a good cigar then this is also æpossible after the tour.
The tours are on thursday and only on thursday at:
They are free and all you have to do is go to the main gate and ask the guy at the gate.
Nature exploration on San Miguel, the Azores
Do not miss:
- Ponta Delgada itself
- Hiking around Lagoa de Fogo, Furnas lake, Sete Cidades lakes (these are found across the island, each should be a day's activity)
- Hot springs and the botanical garden in Furnas
- Hot baths in Furnas! For 2€, you get to stay there as long as you want, and there are change rooms, cold showers and staff will watch your belongings.
- Hiking and Walking
- Adventure Travel
One of best short trips we ever took.
We took a cruise with Royal Caribbean, got out at port Ponta Delgada without clear cut plan or purchased excursion. Stopped at Information Center across the street from the ship, and were told it would be best to take a taxi at the nearby intersection to visit Sete Cidades if we wanted a private tour. We were told the average price would be 50 Eurodollars. We ran into Mario Figuerira in his taxi who gave us the quote of exactly 50 Euro. It was a wonderful trip from this point on. He was very pleasant, spoke almost perfect English, very honest and patient. We enjoyed Sete Cidades much. On the way back to the ship, we asked to be taken to Furnas for an extra amount of 40 Euros. He took us to a nearby fast food restaurant for a hearty but cheap meals of 5 Euro per person before we drove another one hour to see Furnas. Both were really worth the money spent for 3 of us. We got back to the ship with one hour to relax before the deadline. Quick calculation showed we saved much by this private trip instead of purchasing the excursion from the trip. Mario was excellent, he was very gentle, not pushy, very honest and with fluent English. We took down his email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 912 604 653. Call him or email him before arrival, and enjoy the island. It was truly beautiful, we plan to come back and use his service again. Hien Pham M.D of San Jose, CA
- Family Travel
A statue in honor of the emmigrants.
The Azores used to be a very impoverised place, especially during the Salazar dictatorship where commonman had almost no chance of education and prosperity and therefore many Azorans emmigrated during that period.
There was also a vulcanic eruption in 1958 that ruined many buildings and many people migrated to the United States after that.
And many young locals have also in recent years gone to Bermuda to work in the tourist industry.
These days you have more people with azoren blood living in North America thna you have living on the Azores and that is honored with a little statue in the center of Ponta Delgada showing a migrant family.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
The Sao Sebastiao church.
The Sao Sebastiao church is the main church in Ponta Delgada and it´s a 15th century church with a lot of interesting touches.
The entrances to the church are manueline style which is a unique portugese building style from the 15th century and inside the church you have a lot of wood carvings in exotic wood from around the world.
This is not a church that you have to be religious in order to enjoy.
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
The town hall.
The town hall in Ponta Delgada is in my opnion one of the prettiest buildings in Ponta Delgada.
It used to be the house of a weathy merchant family and has a 17th century bell tower and it is located just around the corner from the main square.
It´s a classical azoran baroque building that is surely worth visiting.
- Historical Travel
The Azores has lot´s of dolphins and there are several companies in Ponta Delgada offerering various kind of dolphin tours.
Futurismo is one company i have used several times and they are a good company with very educated guides and they are generally very reliable.
You have tours where you combine dolphin watching with whale watching and you also have tours where you can swin with the dolphins.
The waters around the Azores are packed with dolphins and you are almost always sure to see dolphins when you go on one of those tours.
- Sailing and Boating
- Family Travel
Museu Carlos Machado
Museu Carlos Machado is the oldest and one of the most notable museums of the Azores. It was founded in 1876 by Carlos Maria Gomes Machado (1828-1901), a naturalist and college professor. Originally it focused on natural history with collections in zoology, botany, geology and mineralogy. Art and ethnographic sections were founded later and contributed to the expansion of the museum. In 1930 the museum was moved to the former Convento de Santo André from the 16th century, named for the first patron saint of Ponta Delgada.
The present collection has been greatly expanded and includes fascinating exhibits of regional ethnography, detailing the traditions and customs of island life, jewellery, glazed tiles, porcelain and toys. Upstairs there is an interesting gallery of folk art, contemporary paintings and sculptures. Of special interest is a collection of oil paintings from the Portuguese school, dating from the 16th century. The museum is surrounded by a lush garden with fountains and benches.
It is open May-Sep Tue-Fri 10am-noon and 2pm-5pm, Sat and Sun 11am-5:30pm; rest of the year Tue-Sat 10am-noon and 2pm-5pm.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
The fishing harbour.
Ponta Delgada has a quite active fishing harbour that is pretty much right in the center of town.
I really like a town where the harbour is more than just yachts and cruise ships and it´s nice to see that some people can still make a living out of fishing here and it certainly adds positively to the atmosphere of the town.
Forte de Sao Bras.
Forte de Sao Bras is a renaissance fortress from the 16th century that was originally build to defend Ponta Delgada against pirate attacks.
It´s very well kept and has a really scenic location right y the fishing harbour.
These days it´s open for the public and it also serves as a base for the portugese navy.
Be aware that it is closed on monday though.
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
Praca Goncalo Velho Cabral.
Praca Goncalo Velho Cabral is the name of the main square in Ponta Delgada.
It´s an interesting square with some nice architecture, in particular the three arches on the main square that are the remains of the entrance at the old city wall from 1783, but now they serve as a monument.
That square is likely to be where you set off from when exploring Ponta Delgada and you have a couple of nice cafes there to hang out at before or after exploring town.
- Historical Travel
visit to furnas valley
Huge hollow and luxurious garden in which the colour of the flowers is mixed with the bright green of the Japanese cedars and araucarias. Leafy vegetation from cold and tropical countries, with some species that are hard to find in their lands of origin, Calm and romantic Lake Furnas, with the Gothic profile of Jose do Canto's chapel - dedicated to Our Lady of Victories - reflected on its clear waters, invites the visitor to rest for a few minutes. On its banks are volcanic solfataras and the "natural kitchens" in which the famous dish called cozido is cooked by burying in the soil hermetically closed pots containing meat and vegetables.
The Caldeiras or craters are an area with diverse forms of volcanic activity, one the most spectacular being Caldeira de Pero Botelho with its boiling mud. Next to the Caldeiras are springs of thermal water at various temperatures. A full-fledged spa, with Pavilions and a hospital (19th century), is integrated in this complex.
Based on plantations started by Thomas Hickling in the 18th century and continued in the 19th century, Terra Nostra Park, in the picturesque parish of Furnas, is a romantic vision of ponds, winding paths, flowers, centuries-old exotic trees and silence, Two streams converge in the park and there is a pond of warm thermal water that is used as a swimming-pool. A golf course and tennis courts are also part of the tourist complex of Furnas Valley.
The valley is crossed by two fast-flowing streams, one with cold water and the other with warm water coloured by iron in suspension. Typical water-mills exist.
Nearby lies the height called Pico de Ferro, a belvedere affording an expansive view of Furnas Valley. There are also a lot of small waterfalls.
make a trip around the island
The indented coast of São Miguel provides sea-lovers with charming beaches nestling among cliffs, and also natural swimming-pools formed among the rocks.
Municipal pool next to the Marina in Ponta Delgada.
The calm and family-type beaches of Milicias also known as Areal Grande and Areal Pequeno. Supporting facilities. Nearby lies Fort Sao Caetano.
Stretch of sand on a cosy bay, surrounded by verdant countryside. Pine grove on the slope of a dune. In the vicinity, the Chapel of Madonna del Popolo (17th century), part of an old noble manor-house.
Lagoa (Baixa da Areia)
Welcoming natural swimming-pool. Close to it lies the Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Cabo de Finisterra.
Picturesque fishing port. Natural pool. Diving and underwater observation centre.
Long stretch of sand between two promontories.
Vila Franca do Campo (Vinha Da Areia
Beach next to marina and water park.
Quiet cosy beach.
Islet of Vila Franca do Campo.
A natural shell with a small but charming beach. Can be reached only by boat. Nature reserve.
Typical fishermen's village. Close by lies a quiet, lonely shell-like beach called Praia do Fogo. Along the access road, torrents of ferrous water and luxurious vegetation.
Typical parish. In the surroundings, there is a small isolated beach. Ruins of a former coastal defence fortress. To the west, Praia dos Moinhos, a broad stretch of sand with calm waters. Mouth of a stream with crystal-clear water.
Village hanging over the sea. Natural swimming-pool. Broad views of the northern coast of the island from the hill called Morro das Capelas.
Picturesque parish. Coast cut by inlets and rocks. Natural pool. In the vicinity, the islets of Mosteiros and Pico das Camarinhas, with curious vestiges of the island's original vegetation.
make a trip to sete cidades lake
Sete Cidades Lake
Large crater with a perimeter of 12 km. The unforgettable scene of Lagoa Verde (literally, Green Lake) and Lagoa Azul (Blue Lake) framed by steep slopes covered with trees and flowers. The banks and small peninsula of Lagoa Azul are an invitation to restful walks and picnics, to the enjoyment of peace and quiet. Legend attributes the different colour of the waters to line tears shed by a princess and a shepherd who wept when their love was thwarted and thus created the two lakes at the bottom of the crater. Inside the crater lies the picturesque village of Sete Cidades, with curious houses in a popular architectural style and a 19th century neo-Gothic parish church, as well as green pastures and the modest but attractive lake called Santiago. Next to Lagoa Azul there is a picturesque garden with magnificent trees and masses of azaleas.
Belvederes of Vista do Rei (connected with King Carlos's visit in 1901) and Cerrado das Freiras. Interesting views from the road that has been built along part of the rim of the crater, with luxurious rows of hydrangeas. Successive lovely views along the road that connects the above mentioned Parish Church to the village of Varzea by crossing the mountains.
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