Driving Into The Country
We had seen so much on Sao Miguel Island in the Azores. The calderas and hot springs were our introduction to the volcanic history of the Azores. The pounding surf coasts were carved from volcanic rock. For the last tour day with our tour guide Lisa we would enjoy the volcanic setting of Sete Cidades. The small town and small lakes sit in a large volcanic crater.
Once we left the highway, we travelled along narrow roads as we slowly went higher and higher. Lisa talked about agriculture of the area. On our trip to see the calderas we saw a small herd of cows cross the road. We were told that on many of the Azores Islands, there were more cows than people!
So we were not that surprised when we rounded a corner to find cows on the road. But this was a large group. They just kept coming from one field, up the road and to another field. They seemed unconcerned with the cars. But when David rolled down the window to take pictures, they eyed him warily. This was the kind of traffic jam that was just perfect to start our travel day to see the volcanic setting of Sete Cidades!
A View of Both Coasts
The road continued to head higher and higher. Our first stop was at a large quarry. We could see the multi-coloured rock that was being mined.
From the other side of the road we got our first view of the narrowest part of the island. Far below we could see both the north and south coasts. We kept driving up and stopped at a second viewpoint to see this view of two coasts. The cloud layer was moving up and we got a great view out over areas we toured on previous days.
We moved up the road a little and came to an ancient aqueduct. There were a few of them in this area. The stone aqueduct was highlighted by flower bushes and covered with small greenery. The arches were intact, framing a view. David scrambled up onto the aqueduct for a better view and a little horse play. The field surrounding the aqueduct had interesting plant life. There were some of the prehistoric leafs we saw on previous walks through Caldera Vehla.
The stops gave us our first view for the day of the hills and valleys of Sao Miguel island. It was a great preview to the volcanic setting of Sete Cidades we saw next.
A Panoramic Viewpoint High Above Sete Cidades
We headed for a great panoramic view over Sete Cadades. There is a roadway that will take you to a series of lakes and viewpoints. Watch for the sign to Lagoa Do Canario. You can park at the entrance and hike in. Or you can drive to parking lots at the foot of each path.
We drove in. Our first stop was at the small volcanic lake called Lagoa Do Canario. We walked up through the trees and came out on a still lake. There were two entrances to view this lake. Every few minutes we could see a fish splash out of the water and the waves spread.
Our second stop was at a walkway (Boca Do Inferno) with a great view of the volcanic setting of Sete Cidades. It was a good hike up. At several points along the hike we stopped to look down into the deep caldera valley with the blue ocean off in the distance. Early in the hike we could only see 2 lakes. Lagoa De Santiago was the green lake. The large blue lake was Lagoa Azul beside the little village of Sete Cidades.
When we reached the top there was a walkway out to a point with an awesome view. Unfortunately everyone visiting that day first got a view of the selfie girls who had claimed the point as their own. They seemed quite pleased that they would be in everyone’s pictures that day.
From the point we could see three lakes below. A new much smaller lake had come into view.
We hiked back down and moved the car to Miradouro da Lagoa de Santiago. This gave us a view over the very green lake of Santiago.
View Down Into Sete Cidades
As we rounded the volcanic setting of Sete Cidades, we stopped again to see the view from above. Vista Do Rei is located at the spot where the abandoned Monte Palace Hotel stands. This hotel must have been a great place to escape it all. But its distance from anything was ultimately its downfall.
The Miradouro Candelaria looked out over the ocean. We had a perfect view framed by vibrant spring flowers in bloom.
It was easy to see the Vista Do Rei viewpoint was a popular spot overlooking setting of Sete Cidades. In addition to tour buses, we saw street vendors selling food, trinkets and what looked like homemade gelato.
At the viewpoint over Sete Cidades, we had a much closer view of the small village and the large Lagoa Azul. The small bridge that crossed the lake was right below us.
We continued down the road towards the village of Sete Cidades. One final stop at Miradouro do Cerrdo das Freiras gave us a closer view.
Sete Cidades For Lunch
We went down in the village for lunch. It was great to be down in the middle of the volcanic setting of Sete Cidadas. A spot on the patio at the Green Love cafe gave us a view out over the lake.
We wandered around the lake for a bit and discovered some interesting local art.
Our day had passed quickly so we decided to pass on a visit inside the town church. It was time to leave Sete Cidades and head for the coast.
Heading To The Ferraria
As we approached the coast, our first stop gave us a view out over the water. Down below we saw the small town of Mosteiros. There were several distinguishable rocks jutting out from the water.
Continuing on to the sea, our next stop was at Picos Das Camarinhas (or Ponta Da Ferraria). High on the cliff we saw the lighthouse on the point. This lighthouse was apparently occupied at all times.
Walking to the edge we looked out over the stunning volcanic coast below. This was another facet of the volcanic setting of the Sete Cidades. Below us we saw the Ferraria, our final stop for the day
The Ferraria is a natural swimming cove in the volcanic rock where thermal hot water comes out. The sea water mixed with this hot water and created a swimming hole that drew people to visit. From above we marvelled at the craggy coast. The Termas Da Farraria building with the manmade swimming pool and the pathway down to the Farraria could just be seen from this viewpoint.
Getting A Closer Look at the Ferraria
From the viewpoint we headed down the switchback roads to get to sea level. We fully understood why this road was closed when it rained. When we reached the bottom we found the Termas Da Ferraria building and the pool. This pool was fed by the same thermal waters as the natural pool.
We gingerly picked our way across the volcanic rocks to the edge. The view down was stunning as the waves crashed. It reminded us of the pounding surf we had seen when we toured the coast.
We carefully made our way across the lava rock to the top of the pathway that took us down to the Ferraria. It was a stunning view down. We could see people lying on the lava rock and playing in the Ferraria cove.
We missed arriving at low tide. Not only was the water level high but the waves were pounding in. The cove waters ebbed and flowed and occasionally splashed out on a high wave. This might be a hot spring bathing spot but it was very different from the calderas and hot spring we had visited.
We did not bring out bathing suits down to the pool. But we will definitely plan our timing a bit better when we visit next time.
A Great Day Enjoying The Volcanic Setting of Sete Cidades
We really liked to travel around Sao Miguel on our visit to the Azores. Everywhere we looked there was so much more to see. The stunning coastal views, thermal pools bubbling in the ocean or the volcanic setting of the Sete Cidades created lasting memories of this great island.
Have you visited the volcanic setting of Sete Cidades? Did you get to see multiple high views? Did you venture into the small village?
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I want to go back and see it all again. We weren’t able to go in the water at Ferraria either. It is hard to get the timing right. Still a beautiful place to wander and explore. Sete Cidades was much cloudier for us, I want to go back and see sun! I would have marched over to those girls and made them move;)
Cathy, It is so cool that you have been to these spots as well. Always great to hear about other people’s experiences. We got lucky on most of our days touring Sao Miguel for weather. Even if the day started cloudy, we usually found sun. Our guide was great at moving around the things on our agenda to fit the weather (and tides). I would love to go back to the Ferraria to swim. It was late in the day and the tide made swimming a little rough when we visited. Linda