Off the Map Travel are very excited as we have just returned from a fabulous trip to a wonderful new summer destination that we cannot wait to start sharing with you!
The Azores are 9 volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean and although the direct flight from Gatwick gets you there in less than 4 hours its truly remote location makes you feel like you have travelled much further. Before we went we did a little research asking friends and family what they knew about the islands. The answers were all very similar: “Where are these islands?”, “Our weather comes from there doesn’t it – it rains a lot!” and “Is it off of Portugal?”. In all it became apparent that people of the UK did not know a great deal about these wonderful islands. Now for a company called ‘Off the Map’ that is quite exciting! We like to bring new and unknown destination to our customers and this seemed to be a great choice. Add to that the apparent beauty of these islands, its vast amount of outdoor activities and its position in the top 10 of places to see whales and this looked like a perfect addition to our destinations list!
Our week long trip started in Sao Miguel, which is often referred to as the ‘Main Island’. Arriving at 5pm I was all prepared with my raincoat for this ‘rain’ that everyone warned me of. I was pleasantly surprised at 22 degrees and bright sunshine and enjoyed a drink on the balcony overlooking the stunning Caloura Bay from the wonderful Caloura Hotel Resort. A gem of a hotel in a superb position which we are sure our customers will love.
We spent the first 3 nights of our trip on this wonderful island and in all honesty every day I fell a little bit more in love with its chilled out, understated and calm atmosphere.
A perfect destination to chill out and de-stress. The weather continued to be stunning and we enjoyed a fabulous whale watching trip where we were lucky enough to see fin whales, pilot whales and common dolphins. The food was amazing with a huge variety of fresh fish and local produce (the local cream cheese, fresh bread and local wine is a combination that I am still dreaming of!). We enjoyed the thermal waters in the central part of the island in the stunning Terra Nostra gardens, found some amazing accommodation, visited a pristine golf course and even milked a local cow, Gloria Maria (The Azores produces LOTS of milk!). All in all we left Sao Miguel satisfied that Off the Map customers were going to love it! We left Sao Miguel and headed for the central group of islands and to The Azores second biggest island – Pico! Arriving on Pico the weather was a little cloudy and we couldn’t see the one thing people head to Pico for.
The dormant volcano of Mount Pico – the tallest mountain in the whole of Portugal. However after a few hours the clouds cleared and I was blown away by the beauty of the crowning glory of this tiny island. Many people enjoy the walk to the top and with a guide this is a great activity to enjoy as part of your trip. Again we were staying at a lovely small hotel on a lovely little bay where we enjoyed a couple of swims in the clear blue waters.