Exploring the Islands of Azores, Portugal: Part 1 of 3

Exploring the Islands of Azores, Portugal: Part 1 of 3

Last Updated on June 22, 2020 by Iris Sinilong

I’ve recently become captivated by the shear beauty of the nine islands that make up Azores, Portugal. Travel Expert, Elizabeth Lukic, shared some photos of her group trip last year, and that was it, I was hooked. See for yourself!

Here are three of the nine islands that make up Azores.

Santa Maria

Santa Maria is the oldest of the islands of Azores. First discovered by the Porteguese in 1427, this island dates back so far that even Christopher Columbus himself visited in 1439. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Turks, French, English, African Arabs and Moors settled here.

Amidst its spectacular scenery are the rolling hills of Barreiro da Faneca. The colour of this desert sand changes from vibrant orange to deep red depending throughout different times of the day. Also found here is the Ribeira do Maloas, a grand waterfall edged with  black lava. Santa Maria is known for having the best beaches of all the 9 islands–great for surfing, skiing and sailing.


The Volcano of Pico is the highest point in all of Portegal, reaching 2,351 metres up into the sky. The vineyards of Pico, which date back to the 16th century, are today designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Take a walk along this 8km stretch of vines, protected by stone walls made of black basalt, or climb the Pico summit for panoramic views of the São Jorge, Terceira and Graciosa islands.

São Jorge
And speaking of São Jorge, which rests 17km off Pico, you’ll definitely want to explore the central mountain range of Azores, which stretches along one side of the island. São Jorge,  along with Faial and Pico, completes the island of the “triangulo” (triangle). The settlement of this island remains a mystery. If you’re fortunate enough to visit, you don’t want to miss Urzelina, which features a tower, the only remains of an ancient church, buried when the Pico de Esperanca erupted in 1808.

I’d love to hear what you think about these three islands, so please leave me a message below and send some photos, too! And stay tuned to read about three more tomorrow!


  1. Do you know of any cruise’s that go to all 9 islands?

    • Hi Mary, Seabourn Odyssey & Costa Cruises may have some options. If you call one of our agents at 1-800-665-4981 they can look into it for you!

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