Traveling to Maui on Hawaii, my dream vacation spot, is a 25 hours and 12 hours time difference journey. Luckily, there is an alternative in Europe, a place called Europe’s Hawaii.
Have you booked your summer vacation? Maybe the Azores is this summer’s destination?
Overall and climate
Read about how I review the spots -> here!
The surf prognosis for July is not the best (see table below from the Stormrider Surf Guide). Still, we took the chance. At the time we visited the Azores, we were beginner surfers. (And I am still a beginner surfer ;). We hoped there would be enough swell for practicing our beginner turns.
We stayed one week in July. It was all about the tide! We followed it closely, and made sure that we were on the beach at the right times. We were on the water, once or twice a day, five out of seven days.
We stayed in Ponta Delgada. Every day, we drove the 20 minutes drive to St. Barbara beach, close to Ribeira Grande, on the north shore every day.
This is the Atlantic ocean and you need 3/2 wetsuit. The air temperature is like a good Norwegian summer, 20-25 degrees celcius!
How to get to the Azores?
The Azores consists of nine islands. It is a part of Portugal, but it is located 1500 kilometers (900miles) west of Lisbon. The time difference is GMT-1. Sao Miguel is the largest island, and the only island we visited.
We flew to Lisbon and continued with TAP Portugal to Ponta Delgada. The flight from Lisbon to the Azores is 2.5 hours. If you book early, you can get very good prices.
We rented gear from Azores Surf Center, located on St. Barbara beach. We had made reservations in advance via their website and e-mail (email@example.com). The surf center has a good variation of surf boards. The staff was friendly and helpful.
Ricardo, a local surf hero with a lifelong passion for surfing, was also one of the instructors on my daily classes. I took classes, one hour every day. We learned the basic techniques and practiced in the small waves. Good teachers and a personal follow-up to each and every one. One the last day, we went out to the larger breaks. It was tough and I was a bit scared. Unfortunately, it ended with a board hitting my face. I could practically watch a blue lump growing underneath my eye. I had a blue eye for weeks!
Where to stay?
We decided to in Ponta Delgada. Since the stay was a week, we booked a hotel room. Ponta Delgada has a great variety of hotels at any price range. We stayed at Sao Miguel Park Hotel, a 4* hotel just north of the city center. A good location, with walking distance to restaurants and a short drive to the highway R1-1A (EN1-1A), EN7-2A leading to St. Barbara beach.
You will also find many possibilities on AirBnB, both in Ponta Delgada and on the north shore closer to St. Barbara beach.
Where to eat?
I really loved the Azores, apart from one thing. The food. We like good and healthy food, and I am sorry to say that we really struggled to find good restaurants. We did find one, Colegio27, and ended up eating there the last three days. It was not cheep, but hungry and healthy surfers were desperate.
I googled Azores and food, and found that we were not alone in our opinion. I read that the best Azorean cooking you find in private homes. The Azoreans do not have a strong «eating out» culture and geographical isolation has influenced their kitchen.
Still, drinking and eating out is cheap, which is good for your budget.
If any readers of this blog post have good restaurant suggestions, please share them in the comment field below.
We visited so many adventurous places on the Azores. Check out the Part 2!
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Thank you for your blog! I enjoyed it and found it very helpful. My husband’s parents grew up and lived in the Azores into adulthood. My husband is Portuguese as well. He has visited several times, however, I have never been. I would like to plan a trip there. I am a paddle surfer so I would like to incorporate some surf time during our stay.