Almost 900 miles from the coast of Portugal and over 3,000 miles from the US, the volcanic islands of the Azores are, literally, out in the middle of nowhere. And it’s a spectacular place to be. The stunning beauty of the wild blooming hydrangeas backed by stark black volcanic cliffs would be enough on its own. But there’s incredible hiking, world-class fishing, and whales to watch as well. The latter is best done from the island of Faial, at the marina of Horta. There’s a passage between two of the islands here that’s part of the sperm whale migration route you could be on a rubber raft up close to pods of them surfacing right next to you
This is a world of things you’ve probably never seen before: fumaroles, mudpots and scalding springs; caverns, columns and grottoes formed from once molten rock; blue lakes ringed by forests of laurel and cedar, and green pastures patterning the slopes of calderas. On the nearby island of Pico, you can visit Unesco-listed volcanic vineyards and descend into one of the world's longest lava tubes. Whether you decide to hike the volcano or ride around a crater lake on a mountain bike, the Azores are one of Europe’s last great island adventures.
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