Set sail on a 9-day cruise through the Islands of the Azores: Basalt peaks to volcanic vineyards aboard the National Geographic Endurance. Encounter the defining Ponta do Pico, exploring a whaling village and a UNESCO-listed wine region. Join a researcher to spot cetaceans. Explore Faial's transformed landscape post-1957 volcanic eruption. Experience the unique fado music. Visit São Jorge, hike through cliffs and fajãs, and explore saltwater lagoons. Graciosa, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, offers natural wonders and historic villages. Terceira, settled in 1450, boasts coastal views and lava tube exploration. Enjoy whale watching and explore Santa Maria's historical significance. Discover Furnas Valley's hot springs and savor a traditional Azorean dish. Conclude the journey at Sete Cidades before departing.
Explore Ponta do Pico, the Atlantic Ridge's tallest dormant volcano
Witness the dramatic landscape change after the 1957 volcano eruption in Faial
Explore Graciosa's natural monument, Caldeira da Graciosa and Praia village
Join a local whale guide in Terceira for a whale-watching expedition
The tallest mountain on the Atlantic Ridge, the long-dormant Ponta do Pico, is a defining feature of this beautiful island whose claims to fame are whaling history and wine. Visit the once-booming former whaling village Lajes do Pico and learn about the importance of the whaling industry to these islands at the Whalers’ Museum. Then travel to the wine region, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where the moonscape terrain left by the lava flows has been painstakingly converted to vineyards. See the unlikely lava stone corrals that protect the precious vines before ending the day with a tasting of these very special wines.
More than 20 types of cetaceans can be spotted in the waters surrounding the Azores, and today, a researcher from the biology department of Azores University joins in the search for these gentle giants in the channel north of Pico and Horta. Details of the university’s ongoing studies will be shared as the sea is scanned. Once ashore on the island of Faial, head to Capelinhos, and see how dramatically the landscape changed when its volcano erupted in 1957. Farms and villages were covered with ash, which added nearly an extra mile of land to the island. Later, stroll in the marina, visit the excellent scrimshaw museum, and raise a glass at Peter Café Sport, a legendary pub where sea adventurers historically dropped off their mail. This evening enjoy a very special musical performance of achingly beautiful fado. The genre may trace its roots to mainland Portugal, but the islands have made it their own.
This morning visit São Jorge, formed by volcanic fissures. An impressive mix of imposing sea cliffs and fajãs—coastal plateaus formed from lava flows—the island has fertile soil that supports picturesque grasslands and farms. On trails that crisscross the ridge and beaches, hike to Caldeira de Santo Cristo Lake, known for its clams; visit the small villages perched on the fajãs; explore the coffee and tea plantations; and taste world-renowned São Jorge cheese. Be on deck with your binoculars this afternoon as you sail around the tip of the island, passing cliffs with nesting sea birds and looking for Risso’s dolphins and whales. Go ashore by Zodiac to explore the secluded saltwater lagoons of Fajã dos Cubres and Fajã de Santo Cristo, “Wetlands of International Importance.”
Aptly named, this “gracious” island has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for the balance its inhabitants have achieved between the preservation of the geography and sustainable human development. Travel through a beautiful patchwork of farmland and vineyards dotted with windmills en route to the ancient village of Santa Cruz. At the natural monument Caldeira da Graciosa, see Furna do Enxofre, a unique lava cave and underground lake. Later, stroll through the village of Praia, enjoy the sweet pastry queijada da Graciosa, and soak up the tranquility of this quiet harbor. Weather permitting, explore the islet Ilhéu da Praia in Zodiacs and kayaks before ending the day with a presentation by a local historian who will set the stage for your visit to Terceira.
First settled by Portuguese navigators around 1450, Terceira became a popular port of call for merchant ships and the economic and religious center of the Azores. Wind along the coastline and explore historic villages like Porto Judeu, a small fishing community; Sao Sebastiao, which has a notable 15th-century parish church; and Altares, with its quaint whitewashed houses capped with traditional chimneys and painted cones. Upland at Algar do Carvao, be amazed by a huge lava tube adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, and later stroll the streets of Praia da Vitoria. Or, take a walking tour with local guides to see the forts, palaces, churches, museums, and gardens of Angra do Heroismo. Step back in time to this 15th-century UNESCO World Heritage site and see firsthand the indelible mark left by the ancient explorers, conquerors, and religious leaders.
Today, a local whale guide joins the group, sharing centuries of expertise on a morning whale-watching expedition as participants take to the waters in search of the islands’ many cetaceans. In the afternoon, there's an ashore visit at Santa Maria, historically significant as the first landfall of Christopher Columbus on his return from the Americas in 1493. A statue of the explorer is visible in the village of Anjos, and participants can admire breathtaking vistas while traveling along the coast. Those opting to hike the Pico Alto-Baía dos Anjos trail will journey from the highest point on the island to the sea to observe marine birds in their azure surroundings.
Today, explore the Furnas Valley and its famed hot springs, hiking the trails or perhaps visiting a tea plantation or the lovely garden of Terra Nostra. Sample a typical Azorean dish for lunch with the option to prepare it with a local chef. Naturally cooked underground from the heat of volcanic activity, cozido is a dish made with a variety of meats and vegetables. Those who want a hands-on experience may join a local chef to visit the market for fresh ingredients, prepare, and bury the creation. Explore the valley while the thermal heat cooks your meal and then enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Day 9: São Miguel | Disembark
This morning, disembark and travel to Sete Cidades, a lovely village set amongst green and blue lakes. Explore the lakes and village and conclude the expedition with a traditional Azorean lunch before transferring to the airport and homebound flights.
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7 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 8 Dinners
8 Nights Accommodations
Accommodations as listed
Ground transportation as listed
Activities as listed
Meals as listed
Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
All airport transfers mentioned in the itinerary.
Use of snorkeling equipment, wet suits, and kayaks (where available)
Services of the expert expedition team and guest speakers
Shore excursions, sightseeing, entrance fees, and special access permits
Taxes, service charges, and tips (except for ship’s crew, at guests’ discretion)
Beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, hors d’oeuvres, and snacks
Cocktails and spirits on select ships
Flight costs (please request a quote)
Additional excursions during free time
Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
Additional Hotel Nights
Air transportation (except when indicated in the itinerary, as included)
Passport, visa, and immigration fees
Special and unique excursions such as scuba diving, flightseeing, etc. (where offered)
Items of personal nature
Phone and Internet Service
Gratuity for ship’s crew, at guests’ discretion (crew tips are included on select ships
We strongly recommend our guests to take Travel Protection Plan. A Plan with comprehensive coverage to protect you from cancellation fees, costs incurred due to trip delays/interruption, damaged or lost baggage, medical assistance, and evacuation during your travels
When to Go
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
We are so glad that we chose Adventure Life. The service is top-notch. Everything is well taken care of and we just have to print the documents and go. Franny even gave us timely updates on possible airport strike.