Azores island hopping holiday

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made from April to October to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Azores island hopping holiday

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

Whale watching and swimming with dolphins are on many people’s wish lists and the Azores is internationally recognised as one of the best places to do this. However, it is essential that any enjoyment is respectful of the ocean environment and its rich marine life. We offer a half-day whale and dolphin watching trip and a half-day dolphin swimming as add-ons to this holiday. Both activities are overseen by highly experienced, local guides with a profound knowledge of the Atlantic setting. They instruct holidaymakers about responsible swimming and clients receive in-depth instructions on how to swim responsibly with the dolphins – observing, but not disturbing.

We are in full support of watching cetaceans in their natural environment. It has been well-documented in everything from journals of marine biology to the National Geographic magazine (a series of articles published in May and June 2015 examined current research on dolphin intelligence) that the confines of captivity can seriously harm the physical and mental health of dolphins – killer whales included in this category. Performance parks in particular can make dolphins dangerously dependent on human support and even lead to neurotic behaviour. In the wild, they are highly intelligent organisms with established social structures. It is this that holidaymakers should see: dolphins (and other cetaceans) as Nature intended. This will inspire them to regard these creatures as impressive wild animals, not theme-park attractions.

Of course, educating visitors about environments is not just limited to the ocean. On land, they will have several options whilst exploring Caldeira do Santo Cristo, heading on specially chosen non-disruptive paths to avoid potential damage. During their trip to Pico Island they will be shown the Criação Velha vineyards. These famous vineyards have such cultural importance that UNESCO has listed them as a World Heritage Site. They will spend time at a local wine producer of ‘Verdelho do Pico’, learning all about this traditional craft. They will also visit Sete Fontes Forest Park – an area that was once wasteland before work commenced in 1963 to reclaim the land. Today it is an area of lakes, playgrounds and picnic areas throughout the forest.

During the hike to Caldeira do Santo Cristo Lagoon the guides will explain the environmental benefits of the area now listed as a ‘Wetland of International Importance’ under the Ramsar Convention in 2005 and home to a unique kind of clam!

Community

The Azores are a small island group and tourism is a mainstay of the Azores service sector and very much a pillar of their economy. It is well-established that mainland Portuguese destinations pull away significant numbers of tourists – Statistics Portugal (Instituto Nacional de Estatística) has found that the Algarve has almost 25% of total overnight stays, while the Azores, in comparison, hosts less than 2%. This three island tour therefore contributes by providing holidaymakers against the mainland pull.

During this holiday, the client’s time is divided between three of the small islands – Faial, São Jorge and Pico Island – spreading the economic benefits across the Azores. We proudly employ Azorean guides and instructors on this holiday, which ensures a local financial benefit. This applies to everyone from those overseeing our optional caldeira hikes on Faial Island to the biologists which assist with the whale and dolphin tours.

The hotels selected on each island have been chosen for their location close to local amenities enabling clients to utilise the local restaurants and varied shops – and providing valuable seasonal work for the local population and ensuring client money is spent locally.

Food is locally-sourced and visitors are encouraged to learn about and sample Azorean cuisine, which developed rather distinctly from that of Portugal. ‘Cozido das Furnas’ as an example, applies a geothermal cooking process to the traditional Portuguese ‘cozido’ stew. During their time on Faial, for example, clients are will visit local villages to purchase handicrafts and sample the traditional cooking.

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