Our Azores Plans Changed Based On The Weather
We had a few rainy days on Sao Miguel in the Azores. It did not stop us when we ventured out to explore the calderas and hot springs. When the rain poured and the wind pounded at our hotel window, we stayed inside and caught up on blog posts and pics. The first thing we did when we got up was look out the window. We were booked for whale watching. While the rain seemed to have passed, the wind was still very high. Our whale watching trip was moved to the next day. But the high winds made for a most amazing day as we explored the pounding surf on Sao Miguel Island.
The Surfing Beach at Santa Barbara
We booked with our tour guide Lisa for the afternoon. She picked us up at noon and we headed for Praia de Santa Barbara. This was our first taste of the pounding surf on Sao Miguel Island.
We found a large dark volcanic sand beach with large volcanic boulders at the edge. The surf rolled in. When we looked far off in the distance we saw a few surfers sitting waiting for waves. A big surfing competition was held on Santa Barbara Beach in September.
There was a cafe and full changing facilities on this beach. The wind whipping on the beach did not really entice us to enjoy the patio. So we grabbed a coffee and a snack and moved on.
Back to the Calderas
On our first excursion day with Lisa, we enjoyed a tour of the calderas and hot springs. But we did not do them all! Caldera Vehla is a smaller site. It has been well crafted to fit in with its environment. There was a very small admission fee to enter even though we did not bring our bathing suits to swim.
We walked in through a veritable forest of giant fern plants. I am not sure I have ever seen ferns quite this high. There was even a natural garden along the paths.
As we walked we saw small streams of water. In some places there was steam rising from the ground. This whole area is geothermal. We even passed the geothermal energy plant on the way in.
We saw the hot spring bath as we approached. It was fed by the very hot stream of water. This water was cooled by another flow of spring water. When the rains are high, a third stream of runoff water further cooled the water going into the pool. The water in the pool was about 39℃ (102℉).
When we walked further into the forest we came to a point where the water ran down over the cliff from the reservoirs high above. This water went into a pool that was about 10℃ cooler than the main pool. We saw nobody lounging in this pool!
While this was not an example of pounding surf on Sao Miguel Island, it reminded us of the thermal and volcanic history of the island that created the great rocky coasts.
Fresh Seafood With a View
Lisa took us to one of her favourite restaurants at Bar Caloura. We took a table at the edge with a view. But moved under cover when the rain that had chased us out of Caldera Vehla caught up with us again. By the time we finished eating the sun was out and the clouds had all moved on. That is weather in the Azores.
Bar Coloura had a great selection of fresh seafood. We picked 3 different fresh fish to have grilled and served with potatoes and a salad. A local Pico Island white wine was a perfect addition. The fish was delicious. Not a morsel was left when we were finished.
We walked around the little port and got a second view of the pounding surf on Sao Miguel Island. On one side there was a small port with fishing boats.
The surf pounded up on the breakwater. I didn’t resist walking out to get a closer view. David kept his camera clicking because he knew it was only a matter of time before I would get wet.
The waves crashed up on the cove and up over the swimming pool that had been created in the rocks.
On our way out of the port, we stopped to take a look at the outside of a small private church. The front was covered in typical Portuguese tile. It was not open to the public. But Lisa said she once saw inside and it was beautiful and ornate.
Our Final Stop in Agua De Pau
Lisa took us through the small village of Coloura out to the beach at Agua De Pau. This was our final stop to on this day to see the pounding surf on Sal Miguel Island.
Agua de Pau was a small community of very large houses on the cliffs. It was an interesting mix of old and new houses, many owned by absentee owners. Some had been opened up as guest houses. A couple of dogs were on duty and made lots of noise when we walked by on the path.
When we hit the coast, we were amazed. The shore was covered in large volcanic boulders in several coves. The rocks were built up to create channels for the water to crash through. Everywhere we looked the water was rolling, pounding and spraying. I didn’t know where to look first.
I could have spent hours sitting watching the waves pound in. But it had been a great afternoon and it was time to call it a day.
The Awesome Pounding Surf on Sao Miguel Island
We were lucky that the wind and waves stayed high while we were in the Azores. I am sure the coast is beautiful at any time, but the conditions were perfect for us to see the pounding surf on Sao Miguel Island. If you love the sight and sound of waves, this will be a treat for you.
We headed to the far end of the island to see Sete Cidades before we left Sao Miguel. That gave us a chance to see the coast on another part of the island. But first we headed out in search of whales off Sao Miguel!
Have you seen the pounding surf on Sao Miguel Island? Where was your favourite spot?
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I adore the Azores. My father’s mother was from the Azores, so I have been lucky enough to visit twice. I can’t wait to visit again. Thank you for bringing me back to Sao Miguel with those lovely pictures.
Heather, It is great to have a perfect reason to go back to the Azores over and over again. We had heard great things about the islands but did not expect to love them as much as we did. We only got to see 3 of the islands and we will definitely go back to see the others. Hope you get back soon! Linda