Azores with kids?
September 3, 2019 2:17 PM   Subscribe

Hello! I'm planning a family trip to the Azores next year (2020). I looked at past asks, but I had some specific questions.

1. We plan on going to San Miguel, but is it worth it to visit another island? (I was thinking Faial or Pico).
2. We will have an 11yo and 14yo with us. We are a very outdoorsy family. We are *not* sit on the beach people. We also like history.
3.My oldest has asthma though (going to the Big Island in Hawai'i triggered a severe asthma attack for him), will it be similar? (I was thinking Capelinhos volcano?)
4. Will seven days be enough? We're flying from the US west coast, so it will be six days on the island, including travel. We're headed to Germany after the Azores.
5. We have food allergies (tree nuts and dairy), what would be a great guide in order to make sure the food will be safe for my kids to eat?
6. Rent a car, yeah or nay?

Here is what I have tentatively planned:
Praia da Viola
Ponta de Ferraria
Sete Cidades
Lagoda do Fago
Lake Furnas
Parque Terra Nostra
Santa Barbara Beach
Cha Gorrearan tea plantation (hesitant about this, not sure about history of "plantation"?)
Ribeira dos Caldeiroes
Vila Franco do Campo
Miradouro da boco do inferno

Thank you!
posted by alathia to Travel & Transportation around Portugal (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I went by myself in 2017, so I have some answers for you:
Rent a car for sure (reserve in advance with a big company) and get GPS. The highways are fine, but I regularly got lost leaving my hotel in a maze of one way streets. I stayed on Sao Miguel and filled four days easily just driving in like four small circles, one each day. I heard another woman say she had gone to Pico and was on Sao Miguel for a week each and wished she had more time.
I stayed in Furnas that has hot springs and they are very stinky when you get close to them. It is sulfur and there is a group of them in town and in a park on the edge of town. I don't know enough about asthma to know how it interacts with sulfur, but the mineral rich waters have been used as spas and healing pools for centuries.
I have a pine nut allergy and did not ever have an issue, but I eat a lot of dairy. There was plenty of fruit and fish around.
The tea plantation is small and highly reviewed, but I did not take the tour. I don't think there is any slavery history there. I did not find a ton of historical exhibits/signs on the island unless you are in Ponta Delgada proper.
If you are laying over in Boston and flying Azores Air, be prepared for delays. My first flight was delayed more than 12 hours. Also, the check-in desk at Logan doesn't say Azores Air. It has some other airline's name on it and no signage to explain.
I did a whale watch out of Franca do Campo and I think your whole family would enjoy it. We saw fin whales and several kinds of dolphins, plus birds and man-of-war.
posted by soelo at 4:00 PM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

A coworker just got back from there - she has some family connections to the islands. I'll see if I can pick her brain for details later this week.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:59 PM on September 3, 2019

I just got back from a week there in August. One week is a great amount of time to spend on Sao Miguel. If you were there two weeks, I'd say definitely visit another island. The flights between islands didn't seem to be daily, so it would have split our trip up in a weird way. There is plenty to do to keep you occupied for a week, especially if you're into hiking.

And yes, definitely rent a car. Not sure about GPS, as I have Google Fi so had data on my phone. Alternatively, you can pre-download the entire island to google maps, and your GPS on your phone will work without having to use any data if you don't have an international plan. Wifi is pretty good everywhere.

We landed pretty early in the morning, so wouldn't have been able to check in to our hotel, so we went to Ponta de Ferraria directly from the airport, and it was an awesome way to unwind after the flight, and since it was early we got there before the crowds. Definitely recommended!

And while in Furnas, get the cozido das Furnas dish, but be aware you probably need to make a reservation somewhere in order to get it. You'll also need reservations at a lot of the nicer restaurants in Ponta Delgada during tourist season.

Also in the food category, eat all the cheese. And all the pineapple. And all the seafood.

Definitely go whale watching!
posted by Grither at 6:18 AM on September 4, 2019

We went over the 4th of July. In high season, there are multiple daily flights between (most of the major) islands, as well as fairies. But 6 days on Sao Miguel does not seem unreasonable, there's plenty to do, especially for self-proclaimed outdoorsy folks.

Definitely get a car, public transport is practically non-existent, especially outside the major towns. Be aware it'll likely be a manual transmission. We didn't get GPS, and my phone worked everywhere (Google Fi, so no data roaming, YMMV). Alternatively, look into day trip tours. Plenty of providers offer half- and full-day tours to the big touristy spots with drivers. We had more fun with the jeep tours, they're smaller groups and can get into more interesting areas.

Definitely go whale/dolphin watching. Wear more sunscreen than you think you need, it's way sunnier out on the water than on the island.
posted by yggdrasil at 9:09 AM on September 4, 2019

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