Find your true colours in the Azores
Sunvil offers unique stays in one of the last paradises on earth
Over 90 years ago, Portuguese writer Raul Brandão sailed to the Azores and gave each island a different colour, according to their distinct characteristics. Sunvil has been one of the leading promoters of responsible tourism to all nine islands since 1990 and today the archipelago remains relatively unexplored and unmarked by mass tourism. Guests can link three or more islands together on an Azores island-hopping tour, or visit each individually.
Here’s what to look forward to on each island:
Activities galore on São Miguel – the Green Island
The largest island of the Azores is a green and fertile paradise, with a mountainous landscape where visitors can enjoy land-based activities including cycling, walking, Jeep safaris and horse riding, plus water sports such as surfing, canoeing, swimming in rock pools, not forgetting magnificent opportunities for whale and dolphin watching.
Stay at the recently-opened White Exclusive Suites & Villa, Lagoa. A seven-night holiday costs from £1,456 pp (two sharing), including flights (London), hotel (B&B basis) and car hire.
Sun and sandy beaches on Santa Maria – the Yellow Island
Also known as the ‘island of the sun’, Santa Maria is the warmest region of the Azores. The central mountainous area is heavily wooded, with an abundance of plants, while its dramatic cliffs plunge into the ocean. In the south is Blue Flag Praia Formosa – one of the best beaches in the Azores with its glorious white sand – as well as the fascinating Baia da Praia nature reserve. The boutique four-star Charming Blue Hotel is ideally located in the heart of the capital, Vila do Porto, opposite the newly-opened fossil museum.
A seven-night holiday costs from £968 pp (two sharing), including flights (London), transfers and accommodation at the Azoris Royal Garden on the first and last night, with five nights at the Charming Blue Hotel, on a B&B basis.
The oldest city in the Azores on Terceira – the Lilac Island
Visitors can discover rural island life and its intriguing history, including the story of the 15th century UNESCO-listed Angra do Heroismo, while enjoying Terceria’s unusual landscapes. Explore the lilac island’s intriguing black volcanic pools and sample the locally-produced cheese and wine. The stylish Pousada São Sebastião has kept many of its original features. Built in 1555, this former governor’s house boasts spectacular views of Mount Brasil and the Atlantic Ocean.
A seven-night holiday costs from £1,032 pp (two sharing), including flights (London), transfers and accommodation at the Azoris Royal Garden on the first and last night, with five nights at the Pousada São Sebastião, on a B&B basis.
Sweet treats and a step back in time on Graciosa – the White Island
Step back in time on the picturesque white island, where age-old traditions remain. Known for its windmills, traditional cakes (‘Queijadas da Graciosa’, a sweet pastry made in Praia) and local wine and cheese, there is also the stunning Furna do Enxofre – an impressive lava cave, accessed by a narrow funnel. This volcanic phenomenon is part of a much larger caldera whose fertile lands can be explored via a 9km circular trail. Stay at the modern four-star Graciosa Resort Hotel set within peaceful gardens overlooking the Bay of Porto da Barra.
A seven-night holiday costs from £1,190 pp (two sharing), including flights (London), transfers and accommodation at the Azoris Royal Garden on the first and last night, with five nights at the Graciosa Resort, on a B&B basis.
Dairy delights and rural life on São Jorge – the Brown Island
Home to 20,000 dairy cattle, visitors can visit working farms and enjoy the modest cheese factory to taste São Jorge’s signature cheddar-like cheese. This is an island for walking, for exploring the little settlements on the fajãs (small plains originally created by land shifts) along the coast by car, for admiring the stunning scenery and visiting the two small port towns of Velas and Calheta. Stay at the Cantinho das Buganvilias for wonderful views along the coastline towards the capital, Velas, and across the ocean to the neighbouring islands of Pico and Faial.
A seven-night holiday costs from £1,037 pp (two sharing), including flights (London), transfers on São Miguel, five days’ car hire on São Jorge and accommodation at the Azoris Royal Garden (B&B basis) on the first and last night, with five nights at the Cantinho das Buganvilias (self-catering).
Whale-watching and mountain summits on Pico – the Grey island
Famous for whale-watching, Pico is the second largest island of the archipelago and is dominated by its volcano, ‘Pico Alto’ – the highest point in Portugal at 2,351m. Adventurous travellers can climb to the summit of Mount Pico to enjoy spectacular views over the central islands of the archipelago. Stay at the modern four-star apartment-hotel, Baia Da Barca, set in a quiet bay with wonderful views of the ocean and Mount Pico.
A seven-night holiday costs from £1,080 pp (two sharing), including flights (London), transfers and accommodation at the Azoris Royal Garden on the first and last night, with five nights at the Baia Da Barca, all on a B&B basis.
Volcanic craters on cosmopolitan Faial – the Blue Island
Dominated by the incredible volcanic crater, Caldera – accessible through a tunnel in its side – Faial is the ideal island for keen walkers and botanists. From mid-June to August the island is a riot of blue as the hedges, full of hydrangeas originally imported from China and Japan, burst into bloom. The cosmopolitan port of Horta, with its many bars and restaurants, is an excellent base from which to visit the islands of Pico and São Jorge. Stay at the elegant Pousada Forte da Horta, housed within the walls of an historic 16th century fort. Captured by the English fleet led by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1597, the pousada boasts spectacular views of the marina, ocean and Mount Pico.
A seven-night holiday costs from £1,128 pp (two sharing), including flights (London), transfers and accommodation at the Azoris Royal Garden on the first and last night, with five nights at the Pousada Forte da Horta, on a B&B basis.
Beautiful Flores and Corvo – the Atlantic’s Garden and the Black Island
Venture to perhaps the most beautiful islands of the Azores: on Flores, explore walking trails fringed by hydrangeas leading to waterfalls and verdant valleys and walk the along Europe’s westernmost coastline. On tiny Corvo, the pretty village of Vila Nova do Corvo is the only settlement, home to 488 people, with lush, fertile fields and a maze of cobbled streets and traditional stone houses – each pathway depicting the history and development of Corvo and its people. Stay at the Das Flores Hotel, built on a headland on the outskirts of Santa Cruz, with uninterrupted ocean views across to Corvo.
A seven-night holiday costs from £996 pp (two sharing), including flights (London), transfers and accommodation at the Azoris Royal Garden for one night, four nights at the Das Flores Hotel and a return to the Azoris Royal Garden for the last two nights, on a B&B basis.
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