Azores in March?

Old Nov 24th, 2013, 09:00 AM
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Azores in March?

I am looking for a destination to take my 16 year old daughter for Spring Break in March. The Azores seems to be a great fit - for scenery, food, temperate climate, proximity to US, safety, friendly residents.

I do have a few questions - hoping some of you veterans can help ...

The first hotel I investigated is closed only open May-Oct (on Pico) which made me wonder if much of the islands operate seasonally and will we be making a mistake to travel there in March? It seems that the ferry system does not operate in March so we will need to fly between islands?

We are interested in hiking, small charming villages - and she loves to sail so it would be wonderful to find a sailing trip for the day - perhaps to visit another island.

The most attractive lodging to me keeps coming up on Pico (small, charming, but good facilities) and Pico looks to be a lush and beautiful island - but it is of course a little more difficult to reach (2 flights to Boston, then Boston - Sao Miguel - Terceira - Pico ... makes for tiring travel even though the flights are short). I am willing to take the extra flights if the final destination is worth the extra travel - any thoughts??

Thanks in advance for any help!
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 09:20 AM
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The final destination is worth the extra travel - the Azores !!! But, as you can tell from the closures, March is not the time to visit. Better to go in June-August. All the flowers will be in bloom, ferries will be operating, and everything will be open.
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 09:49 AM
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Thanks Bedar - I should probably clarify that unfortunately going this summer is not an option - I can only travel in late March (summer is committed). I am trying to learn if I will get there and find restaurants, etc to be closed in the "off season".

And regarding the final destination - trying to decide if getting to Pico is worth 2 extra flights. Sao Miguel is relatively easy to reach but then I must fly to Terceira and then Pico (no directs to Pico from SM on our dates). Couple of hours between each flight.
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 10:21 AM
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You could fly from Sao Miguel to Faial or to Sao Jorge and take the ferry to Pico. It operates all year round.
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 10:28 AM
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To get to Pico you could fly to Faial and then take the ferry there. That one should be operating. But, were I you, I'd stick with SM for a taste of the Azores. It's the largest island, and restaurants in Ponta Delgada should be open. Pico is "OK", but our favorite island is Faial.
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 11:34 AM
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Thanks - what do you like about Faial?
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 08:05 PM
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Based on my limited experience, I would agree with Bedar on his suggestion to visit San Miguel, the largest island, given your March plan.

I went to four islands in July 2012: San Miguel, Faial, Pico (via ferry from Faial), amd Terceida. I thought San Miguel was very pretty. I stayed at the Pousada in Faial (the fort) and took the ferry to Pico for the day - it's a short ferry ride. Have fun deciding.
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 08:08 PM
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I would highly recommend Cyprus,the Canary Islands or even Madeira if you are going at spring break from the US. All have great weather,sailing ,etc.
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Old Nov 24th, 2013, 08:11 PM
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P.s., I thought San Miguel was a more "lush" island than Pico.
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Old Nov 25th, 2013, 12:25 AM
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We stayed in Horta on Faial a few years ago in the Pousada and enjoyed it a lot. We also visited Pico, S. Miguel, S. Jorge and Terceira.

None of the islands have large towns and most of the places are small, "villages" at least by UK standards. Horta was a great place, with a limited but very good choice of restaurants, a choice of boat trips and whale watching. March will be quieter, but there were a lot of Americans there in the Summer, so I'd guess that Spring break will have too.

The best walk we did was from the top of the volcano on S.Jorge down to the sea and along the coast.
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Old Nov 25th, 2013, 03:25 PM
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Both SM and Faial are more lush than Pico. Horta on Faial is the port to stop in for runs from Bermuda to Europe on your sailboat so there are more sophisticated ex-pats to be found there - go to Peter's SportsBar for their hangout. We, too, have stayed at the Pousada in the fort (used to belong to Raymond Burr) and at the Quinta de Bouganvillas (sp?). Spent two mos. in the Azores in '90 and a mo. each in '92 and '98. Shouldn't think it's changed much because, TG, there aren't vast beaches which lead to development !!
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Old Nov 25th, 2013, 03:58 PM
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Pico is my favorite of the islands, but not in March, much is closed, the towns are tiny even by Azores standards and the weather may or may not favor hiking. It is not lush like some of the others but rather has its own flora that is unusual and unique. Faial is my next favorite island for the reasons mentioned. Horta is a delightful town all year round, and there will be things to do if the weather does not cooperate. SM is a good choice as well. Faial is just a short ferry trip from Pico (about 4 miles) so you can visit Pico as a day trip from there. If the whale watching tour is running from Pico in March (not too sure of that) it is not to be missed.
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Old Nov 25th, 2013, 05:52 PM
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Agree with above, so wondered for all the traveling you need to do--2 flights just to get to Boston, and then onward, have you thought of Portugal as you would get the same vibe. Southern Spain, Sicily are other options. I know you have to go in March but the Azores is not the fit for that month. It sounds like a you may get there but then what do you do if it's out of season and nothing is open or available kind of scenario.
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Old Nov 30th, 2013, 08:13 AM
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Thanks everyone for the feedback. Had to jump off of travel planning for a few days to get through Thanksgiving. I have thought of Portugal and Southern Spain ... and have not ruled them out but am drawn to the Azores for the natural beauty. I am exploring Horta (found a place to stay there that looks good) and perhaps splitting our time between islands.
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Old Nov 30th, 2013, 10:34 AM
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on any of the islands you will want to rent a car - a smaller car is fine since some of the roads are very narrow as are many streets in the towns. parking can be tight as well and a smaller car will be an advantage.. since the islands are small there is little possibility of being lost for long so that is not a problem...a simple map will be fine. Horta is a fine base. Since it is in the central group, you might want to fly to Terceira for a day. Do not miss the interiors of any island that you are on - those are the most beautiful parts and on some you can visit the calderas (volcano). the one on Terceira is especially interesting to explore.

ot
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Old Nov 30th, 2013, 11:29 AM
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Good choice. As Basingstoke said, you will want to rent a car, if only for a day or two. Pico, your original choice, is across the canal 4 mi away. Go to the NYT and put into the search box "Azores". There's a wonderful article, "Splendid Isolation in the Azores" from April 2, 1989. We'd lived in Europe for 20 yrs and were looking for a holiday/retirement place. This article drove us to visit at our earliest convenience which was the summer of '90. We wound up buying a house there. While I realize you can't visit next summer, summer is "the" time because of the profusion of flowers. Incredible and overwhelming. All roads are bordered and farm fields are divided by hydrangea hedges. We called them the Blue Monster. To hell with the whales, sailing, and the volcanos and calderas - all interesting, mind you - it's the flowers that will take your breath away.
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Old Nov 30th, 2013, 04:49 PM
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Bedar - on which island did you buy your house if I may ask. I have been to the Azores 14X and have considered that as well. It is true about the flowers - they are breathtaking, driving roads lined with tall hydrangeas is an experience not to be missed. There will be some flowers in Marc, particularly late in the month, but nothing like the spring and summer display. The public garden in Angra blooms even in the winter.
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Old Nov 30th, 2013, 05:03 PM
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On Faial in Norte Pequeno. We also liked Terceira esp Praia. Our favorite restaurant there is the Zigzag, also the Sargents' Club on the beach. Adored Graciosa but thought it might be too small. Haven't yet been to Corvo, Flores, or Sta. Maria. Maybe next summer.
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Old Dec 1st, 2013, 12:16 PM
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Thanks Bedar, just read the Times article. Inspires me more to want to go! Basingstoke2, I definitely will plan to rent a car, thanks.

I need to spend our last 2 nights on either Terceira or Sao Miguel (because of the way the flights operate that time of year) - thoughts? I found a lovely looking place to rent in Terceira and can't really find anything in Sao Miguel that engages me - so I am leaning toward Terceira unless Sao Miguel is much more lovely and interesting. It will really only be for one full (2 nights).
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Old Dec 1st, 2013, 02:45 PM
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IMO Terceira is the more typical of the islands. SM is bigger and is beautiful as well, but T has always been our base, mainly because there is a US base there and there is where our flights would transit.

Terceira has lovely villages throughout the island and a lovely interior. The caldera has been a favorite place to visit there.
I agree with Bedar that the Zigzag restaurant in Pria is excellent, but it is hard to find a bad meal on the island especially if you stay with seafood and chicken. My two favorite restaurants on T is one in the fishing village of Beira Mar (the lower town on the water). It is the one that overlooks the fishing boats - you really can't miss it. We go there at least once every time on the island. Our other favorite (I can't recall its long name, but will look it up for you) is in the upper Beira Mar in the hills. It is the one that recreates a turn of the 20th century farm and features food typical of the island at that time - mostly soups and stews. Try the bread soup and their homemade blackberry liquor is unbelievably good. It is part of a working farm and make their own dishes, linens, cutlery etc. It is an experience eating there. That is another place that we never miss on a visit.

Have a great time.
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