about us

The Forecast is Summersalt’s global content hub for all things travel, packing, style, and discovery, packed with informative and inspirational pieces for (and featuring!) women who are going places.

Why You Should Make the Azores Your Next Island Destination

Amanda Wowk

Americans are just getting in on the secret Europeans have known for years: there’s an island paradise somewhere afloat in the middle of the Atlantic. The islands’ name? The Azores. Their location? At the convergence of the North American, Eurasian and African tectonic plates—meaning yes, they’re a hotbed of volcanic activity. If you loved the geysers and thermal pools of Iceland, then you’re in for a treat. An autonomous region of Portugal, the Azores are located in a temperate, maritime climate and are increasingly accessible from the US.

How to Get There

Departing from major cities in the Northeast is your best bet for a direct flight to the Azores. Delta Air Lines fly non-stop to Ponta Delgada’s João Paulo II Airport (PDL) from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Azores Airlines also offer non-stop flights from Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) to PDL. Both routes clock in at just under five hours—yup, that’s it! Or, if you don’t mind making a stop on your journey, TAP Air Portugal flies to the Azores from JFK, BOS and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) via Lisbon.

What to Do

The Azores consist of nine widely dispersed islands and offer something for every kind of traveler: hiking, snorkeling, sunbathing, culture, cuisine, and more. If you have less than a week, I recommend spending your first trip to the Azores exploring the largest island of Sao Miguel. Here’s your suggested itinerary.

Image Courtesy of Unsplash // Nicola Brasetti

Day 1

Arrive at PDL airport, pick up your rental car, grab a coffee (red-eye recovery starts now!), and set your GPS to Sete Cidades. Head to the Miradouro da Vista do Rei lookout to see the beauty of the blue-green crater lakes, aptly named Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde, respectively. Then, choose one of the many hiking trails in the area to explore the caldeira on-foot. There are multiple routes, distances, and access points for every level of hiking ability. 

What to pack

For hiking the trails around Sete Cidades in style, pack the Sun Shield Leggings and Beyond the Lounge Chair Windbreaker. Both offer sun protection if you catch a sunny day and warmth if you catch a windy or damp day.

Image Courtesy of Unsplash // Nuno Antunes

Day 2

Caught up on your sleep? Great! Because today you’re headed to explore Furnas, home to many of the island’s active geysers, hot springs, and thermal pools. Visit Parque Terra Nostra or Poça da Dona Beija to submerge yourself in the soothing thermal waters. You’ll also want to explore the nearby crater lake of Lagoa das Furnas.

What to pack

Bring The Cove swimsuit for taking a dip in the thermal pools of Parque Terra Nostra or Poça da Dona Beija. 

Pro tip: Pack your darker-colored suits, like those in Seaweed & Seaglass or Sea Urchin & Atlantic color combos, to avoid any discoloration from the minerals found in thermal waters. AKA, this is not the time to rock your White Sand Sidestroke (save it for tomorrow!). 

Image Courtesy of Unsplash // César Couto

Day 3

Beach day! Head north to the city of Ribiera Grande to soak in the sun at Praia de Santa Bárbara (praia means beach in Portuguese, FYI). When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to a late lunch at Restaurante O Silva. Then, make your way to Quinta da Jardinete winery for a vineyard tour and wine tasting. The winery is only open for visitors on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 5:30 – 6:30pm, so be sure to plan your itinerary accordingly. 

What to pack

Today’s the day to rock your White Sand Sidestroke. You’ll also want your Boll & Branch x Summersalt Beach Towel for laying out and Easy Breezy Sarong for strolls along the water. 

Image courtesy of Amanda Wowk

Day 4 

With fingers crossed for a crystal clear day, head to Lagoa de Fogo crater lake and nature reserve. If you caught a sunny day, head first to Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo lookout point to take in the views of the lake. If you’re game for a quick hike, take the (steep) trail down to the lake. It takes about 15 minutes to get down to the water’s edge. Had your fill of hiking at Sete Cidades? Take the picturesque drive down from the lookout to Caldeira Velha, where you can relax in the thermal pools instead.

What to pack

For today’s adventure, you’ll once again want to bring a darker-colored suit, like The Sidestroke in Sea Urchin, for taking a dip at Caldeira Velha. Bring your Boll & Branch x Summersalt Beach Towel for drying off after your soak. There are changing rooms at the thermal pools, so you can change in and out of your suit on-site.

Image Courtesy of Unsplash //Ferdinand Stöhr

Day 5

It’s your last day, but you’ve saved the best activities for last! Today you’re headed to the Islet of Vila Franca do Campo. Catch the ferry from the harbor of Vila Franca do Campo (for just €8) and spend the day swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing at the islet’s unique circular lagoon.

Pro tip: Be sure to catch the 10am ferry. The islet is a protected nature reserve and, as such, the amount of daily visitors is limited.

By night, head to your dinner reservation (hint, hint) at Atlântico Restaurante & Grill. Request a table by the window so you can enjoy your last Azorean dinner with an ocean view. 

What to pack

Your Swan Dive suit for snorkeling, your Boll & Branch x Summersalt Beach Towel for sunbathing on the islet afterwards, plus your Long All Buttoned Up Cover-Up for the ferry ride to and from the mainland. Also, remember to pack The Globetrotter Maxi Dress to make dressing for dinner a breeze.