Sailing in the Azores
The Azores consist of nine islands of volcanic origin which are located in the North Atlantic some 760 miles from Portugal and more than 2110 miles from Canada. The islands of the archipelago are divided in three geographical groups: the Eastern Group, comprising Santa Maria and São Miguel, the Central Group, including Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial, and the Western Group, composed of Corvo and Flores. The maximum distance between the islands is just over 340 miles stretching from Santa Maria to Corvo.
Sao Miguel is the largest of the islands and is known locally as the 'Green Island' due to its vast rolling fields and valleys which are home to native flora such as the Azores heather, faya, laurel and holly. The green fields are contrasted by large lakes sitting within volcanic craters, with the most iconic one lying in Sete Cidades. From the Vista do Rei lookout you can see the twin lakes, the green and the blue, paired together by a bridge. Fogo lake by comparison is surrounded by rugged and wild vegetation sitting within the aptly named Beautiful Valley. Another main attraction of Sao Miguel are the natural hot water pools which take different formats throughout the island but which are most effusive in the Furnas Valley which is home to dozens of thermal springs.
The islands remain unspoiled with numerous national parks, areas of protected landscape, flora and fauna, forest reserves and sites of geological interest. It is easy to see why the Azores are considered one of the best locations for nature tourism. For more activities on the water you will not be disappointed with a whole range of dive sites, kayaking, great surf as well as windsurfing opportunities.
A sailing holiday in the Azores does need reasonable prior experience to RYA Coastal Skipper standard. This is the open Atlantic, not the semi-enclosed Mediterranean nor the predictable Caribbean. Distances between certain islands are considerable and the winds can be strong.
Ideal sailing window is late March-October when winds become more predictable. Westerly trade winds averaging Force 3-5 and average temperatures of 20-26 degrees. Experience Level 3.