Which is it for you, the sea or a swimming pool? Throughout the Azores, you can have the benefits of both at the same time. The islands have perfected balnearios – which offer the fun, freedom and pleasure of open water swimming, along with the comfort and convenience of a pool.
Around the islands’ coasts, natural rock pools have been absorbed into accessible and safe swimming areas. The in-the-water experience is very much ocean bathing, with waves breaking on the lava shoreline, glorious deep blue water and the constant ebb and flow of the Atlantic swell through gaps in the rocks
Many offer good snorkelling opportunities. The out-of-water experience is gentler than the rugged geography would otherwise allow. There is easy access via steps or paths, and the pools have levelled, paved surrounds, ideal for sunbathing. Many have showers and during high season, some have lifeguards.
Inevitably, some balnearios offer a wilder swimming experience than others. My introduction to a piscina natural came eight years ago at Ponta da Ferraria, on the southwest coast of São Miguel. It was October, a big surf was running, and we needed to hold on tight to the handily-placed ropes across the mouth of the inlet. It was more suction than swim, but no less glorious for that.
This contrasts nicely with the pool system at Varadouro on the south coast of Faial, where swimmers are almost completely protected from the wind and waves, whatever the weather.
Other balnearios are effectively sheltered harbours, with great swimming in the right weather conditions, but in the aftermath of a storm, the situation could be very different.
Two of my favourite swimming spots are at Fajã Grande on the western coast of Flores…
…and at the Zona Balnear do Pocinho on the western coast of Pico.
Both offer swimming perfection against a stunning backdrop at their best, but can be very wild and windy when the weather changes. There can occasionally be other hazards too – most notably, the odd navigationally-challenged jellyfish. But please come on in, the water is lovely year-round.
Our island hopping holiday to the Azores was absolutely amazing,
Dear Jake. This is a long email, so you might want to go grab yourself a cuppa before you start reading. We just wanted to send you an email to say thank you so much for everything. Our island hopping holiday to the Azores was absolutely amazing, it was far beyond our dreams and expectations,...
Personal service and efficient!
You really listened to what type of holiday we wanted and tailored our week accordingly. You understood what we were looking for and were so helpful and knowledgeable. Very personal service and efficient! Linda from Norfolk
Professional and personal service!
Everything you do, you seem to do it professionally. I know I’m not your only client, but you make me feel like I am. Bryan from Stoke
Azores Choice provided a prompt, helpful service. they found us the perfect accommodation for our needs and provided superb, expert advice on how to spend our week walking on San Miguel. I would certainly use them again. Joan from Durham
Recommended small travel company!
Great little company with friendly staff. Organisation of flights & accommodation very efficient. When problems arise they are helpful and very reasonable in their efforts to resolve them. We would definitely use them again for a return trip.
Really great! Would use again!
Very efficient, friendly, helpful. Excellent local knowledge. Everything ran very smoothly, from supplying the tickets to airport pick ups and hotel bookings. Lovely accommodation selected. No complaints!
A wonderful break in a beautiful environment!
Everything was excellent. The information and organisation, the hotel and the island itself all exceeded our expectations. Whale watching and other trips out, fantastic. We will book again! Mark
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Great company for first time Azores visit!
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