As many parents feel, sometimes having kids means less time traveling for fun. Since our kids are now 10- and 7-years old, we decided it was time to break out of our routine and introduce our kids to something different. So off to the Azores we went!
Starting out slow, we opted for a 4-night stay in Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel. It was totally reasonable to do a shorter trip to the Azores, since non-stop flights are available daily from Boston and the flight time to Ponta Delgada is only four and a half hours. The kids loved the flight - it was their first time being served a full meal on a plane (and that was quite a treat for them!)
Arriving in Ponta Delgada is easy - the kids loved to deplane on the tarmac, and it was just a short walk to the passport control area and out to baggage claim. Our driver was waiting for us and was easy to spot in the small Arrivals Hall. Shortly we were on our way to the hotel! After a quick drive, we arrived at our hotel in downtown Ponta Delgada and got checked into our room. It was easy, flowed seamlessly and the whole process took about an hour from the time we landed.
Our hotel, the Azoris Royal Garden, was fantastic - friendly staff who all spoke English, a fantastic spread for breakfast each morning (from cereal, yogurt, and pastries to local cheeses, eggs, and bacon), and both an indoor and an outdoor pool. Plus, we were in the heart of the old town of Ponta Delgada and just a few minutes’ walk down to the marina.
Speaking of food, I was somewhat concerned about how the kids would take to eating in a restaurant each day and the different foods, but it wasn’t an issue at all. Everywhere we went, the restaurants were welcoming, and the staff was great with the kids. I found the food in the Azores to be very approachable, with lots of fresh fish, locally grown fruit and vegetables, local cheeses and other dairy products. Most importantly lots and lots of french fries, local style. My kids loved the fries and were always able to find something on the menu that they liked. And best of all, we found a fantastic local ice cream shop just steps away from our hotel, Gelataria Abracadabra!
Exploring the town was easy. We found everything to be within walking distance in Ponta Delgada. We felt safe wherever we went and found it very easy to navigate. The kids loved so many things! From the city gates, the cheese store where they did some tastings, the local marketplace next door, and swimming in the public bathing area within the marina, known as the urban beach.
Our absolute favorite part of the trip were the excursions that we did. We booked guided tours of the western side of the island to Sete Cidades, and the eastern sides of the island to Furnas town and the hot springs. We visited beautiful, scenic lookouts, tiny little villages, coastal cliffs, and the botanical gardens of Terra Nostra Park. Soaking in the natural, geothermal hot springs at Terra Nostra Park was definitely a highlight for all of us. We made sure to visit each pool to experience the difference in temperatures! Pro tip: wear dark-colored bathing suits, as the natural minerals in the water of the springs are dark orange and tend to tint light-colored clothing. The guides for our tours from Picos de Aventura were fantastic. As island locals, they had a unique insight and knowledge. Plus, they were great at tailoring their stories and explanations of the sights to the kids, so even our 7-year old found it fun.
On our last day, we went out on a whale and dolphin watching excursion. We were up-close and personal, on a small zodiac boat, zipping over the waves as scouts spotted pods of dolphins that swam within feet of the sides of the boat. At first sight, the 20-passenger zodiac might have made me a little apprehensive, but the rest of my family jumped right in. We were dressed in ponchos and waterproof gear from head to toe, which was definitely necessary. I would recommend water shoes and Dramamine - this excursion was not for the weak of heart, or stomach, but wow what a great adventure! We loved every minute of it and my kids still say this was their favorite part of the whole trip.
After five action-packed days on São Miguel, it was time for us to head home. We returned with great photos and countless, fun memories, already plotting to return to explore more of the Azores archipelago - one island down, eight more to go!
As Atlantic Island Specialists, Quest Travel Adventures has the expertise, depth of experience, local knowledge and connections to ensure you have a spectacular, memorable, and worry-free trip of a lifetime. Some of our most popular Azores trips include our 5 day Taste of the Azores, 6 Day Azores Adventure Seeker and 8 Day Best of Azores. You can view all of our Azores trips here.