Where the European Maps End: Azores islands

We weren’t quite sure what to expect, as the archipelago is a little mystery. But as with all things enigmatic, enthusiasm followed.

If you’re looking for excitement in a way of wild nightlife, stick to the Mediterranean isles; this place is for the thrills of wild untouched nature and exhilarating tranquility. And you won’t be disappointed.

An enchanting Portuguese archipelago of nine volcanic islands, Azores are located in remote wild waters of mid-Atlantic, 1500km from Lisbon.

These volcanic speckles are like fabled oases in the Atlantic desert for explorers and sailors to stop over on their long journeys across. I remember reading about them, probably for the first time, in Mark Twain’s ‘The Innocents Abroad’.

Faial is the main port of call and a base for all transatlantic yachting explorations, where customs registration are completed.

In the foreground of the impressive Pico volcano are vibrant red windmills and vineyards shielded from the wind by basalt-rock square fences, evenly sprawled across the field.

Beautifully styled black basalt stone houses, in stark contrast with vividly red- and pink-painted windows and doors, are private and summer homes.

Needless to say, Flores and Corvo are a bit out of the way for the regular traveler, yet worth the effort to reach – for the unparalleled natural wonders and end-of-the-world tranquility, a perfectly matched getaway. It is admirable that tourism there still hasn’t affected the islanders’ lifestyles.

The stranded location allows for the preservation of original settlements, unique traditions and natural wonders, making the islands decidedly at low risk of mass tourism invasion.

Instead, Azoreans appreciate their remoteness and treasure the tranquility bereft of vacationers. The attractions on offer appeal to a carefully selected group of travellers that will continue to carry their mandate for responsible tourism.

© Deja Dragovic, for National Geographic Traveler Footprint Online, Nov-08

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