The nine volcanically formed Azores Islands (Sao Miguel, Terceira, Pico, Santa Maria, Sao Jorge, Faial, Graciosa, Flores and Corvo) are a playground for outdoor leisure, particularly watersports and surfing holidays. The Azores sit in the middle of the North Atlantic around 1500km from the European coast.
As there's quite a few Azores islands, they're divided into groups. The eastern cluster includes Santa maria and Sao Miguel, the central Terceira, Craciosa, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial and in the West Flores and Corvo. Sao Miguel Azores Island is the biggest of the nine, and the Autonomous Regional Government of the Azores is based here at Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel.
The Azores benefits from a temperate maritime climate with some fluctuations in weather patterns. July and August are the warmest months with pretty much sunshine all the way, but it's not necessarily guaranteed as the Azores experiences what's called Mares de Agosto or August tides. Infrequent warm front storms do blow in bringing high winds and high waves. It usually blows over fairly quickly though and you could have sunshine and rain all in one day. The high winds that do hit the Azores can cause delays on Azores flights and ferries, so be prepared for that.
The rainy period falls in April and May, with January and February the coldest months.
Annual median air temps on the Azores are 17 degrees centigrade. During the colder months of Jan/Feb temperatures rarely fall below 13 degrees centigrade. In the hotest months of July and August average air temperatures are 22-23 degrees centigrade so not oppresively hote!
The Azores is well served by Airports, and you can fly to all nine of the Azores islands. The main Azores connecting airline is Sata (much like Binter Airlines on the Canary Islands). The busiest Azores airport is at Ponta Delgada on the most populated of the Azores Islands - Sao Miguel. They named Ponta Delgada Airport after a Pope! (John Paul II airport). Numerous services are available here including ATMs, post office and a selection of shops, cafes and restaurants. Direct flights to Sao Miguel's Airport from the UK and Ireland are possible from London Airports and Dublin. From other destinations you may have to take a connecting flight. Phone Iknow Holidays booking line direct, or check the cheap flights Azores weblink right for the best Azores flight deals.
Another of the Azores airports is situated on the Azores Island of Faial at Horta. Its close to Horta city centre (around 9.5km). Its less busy than Sao Miguel's airport, and the usual way of getting there is connecting via Lisbon.
The little Azores island of Santa Maria also has its own airport near Vila do Porto - the main town on the island. Again, connecting from Lisbon is the easiest way to get here.
The western cluster of Azores islands are served by the airport on Flores, situated at Santa Cruz das Flores. Azores airports are also at Erceira and the otheer islands. Contact Iknow Holidays booking line direct for assistance and flight bookings.
The Azores is well served by golf courses, and plans are afoot for more golf at Sao Miguel, Santa Maria and Faial Azores Islands.
Terceira Campo do Clube de Golfe, Apartado 15 - Fajas da Agualva, 9760-909 Praia da Vitoria, Terceira, Azores. Tel. (351) 295 902 444. (see weblink right for details. The golf course has 18 holes/par 72).
Batalha Golf Course, Rua do Bom Jesus - Aflitos, 9545-234 Fenais da Luz, Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores. Tel. (351) 296 498 540. (see weblink right. Batalha Golf Course is more like a golf complex, with three golf courses on-site/all 18 hole/par 72).
See Also Furnas Golf Course, Achada das Furnas, 9675-Furnas, Sao Miguel, Azores. Tel. (351 296 584 341. Weblink right.
If you're interested in Volcanoes and the activity of the Mid-Atlantic ridge, then you might have heard that the Azores sit very near 3 separate tectonic plates which are still moving apart at a rate of about 2 cm a year. Around 200 million years ago Africa, Europe and the Americas were all one continent. As they began to split apart into 3 tectonic plates the ocean basin/Atlantic began to form.
When the plates began to separate apart, a rift formed - today referred to as the Mid Atlantic Ridge which lies close to the Azores. The crust thinned putting pressure on the mantle rock below the crust. The mantle rock then melted and rose, causing volcanic activity. The North America Plate is still moving west, whilst the Eurasian plate moves east.
Most of the Atlantic ridge is underwater, and a huge amount of volcanic activity is needed to form an island. The theory behind the formation of the Azores is that they originated from a hotspot of particularly hot rock pushing up from the mantle.
The Azores are volcanically formed islands, and 12 active volcanoes are spread across them. Volcanoes on the Azores that have erupted since the beginning of the 20th century include those on Faial and Sao Jorge, whilst volcanoes that have erupted over the last 2000 years include Terceira and Pico. Pico Volcano is the highest at 7,713 feet/2,351m, and has a dramatic tall basaltic strato volcano cone with steep slopes resulting from its lava flows erupting slowly. If you thought Teide on Tenerife was the most dramatic volcanic structure on an Atlantic archepelago, then you might think again after see the spectacular Pico volcano!
If you're looking for quiet, unspoilt surfing hotspots, then head to the Azores. Two particular surfer favourites are Ribeira Grande and Rabo de Peixe, both of which sit on the north coast of Sao Miguel. Expect consistent waves a a powerful beachbreak at both these Sao Miguel surfing Azores hotspots.
Other surfing hotspots do exist around the Azores but these two above are the easiest to get to.
Another potential surfing hotspot on the Azores is Praia do Norte on the north coast of Faial Island. It's pretty exposed up here, and the surf is pretty consistant, with a mix of groundswells and windswells. It's remote up here too and rarely gets crowded!
Click on the Activity Holidays Azores weblink right for more details on Azores Surf, and activity holidays on the Azores.