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AZORES HOLIDAY-lots of questions.

CORNWALL
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AZORES HOLIDAY-lots of questions.

We are looking to go to the Azores next summer. What is the best time of year climate wise which will also allow us to Whale watch and walk in the hills. Also is 1 week enough. We are flying from UK so where can we depart from for a direct flight at best value. Is it best to book flights, hotels, car hire and whale trips separately via internet or book a package. Where can we get info on walking in the azores and we are prepared to island hop if necessary. Lots of questions and relying on you seasoned Azore travellers for assistance.

Wales, United...
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1. Re: AZORES HOLIDAY-lots of questions.

Hi there,

I am certainly not an expert on the Azores but like you plan to visit next summer. Over the last three months I have been reading and asking lots of questions on this forum – many thanks to all concerned.

The best time to visit the Azores is probably between May and early September. Spring and summer are the best times to experience the flora, particularly the azaleas and hydrangeas.

Sperm whales are native to the Azores and can generally be spotted at most times of the year (weather permitting), while other species may also be spotted in the summer months. The summer is probably the best time to visit for whale watching.

Only week is probably enough to stay on one island but if you plan to island hop may want to extend your visit. SATA (Portuguese airline) has regular flights from Ponta Delgada to the other islands or you could combine your visit with a trip to Madeira.

We plan to fly to Ponta Delgada from London Gatwick with SATA. Think you can also fly from London Heathrow with TAP Air Portugal but you will probably have to fly via Lisbon.

The flight from Gatwick to Ponta Delgarda for Summer 2008 operates on Tuesdays & Saturday. However, it is currently unclear whether the Saturday flight will operate as the flights are not actually on sale. (Tour operators do not advertise this fact).

Have a look at the following UK tour operators which specialise in the Azores. I am sure there are more – see websites below for further information.

www.sunvil.co.uk

www.cachet-travel.co.uk

www.destination-portugal.co.uk

www.atlanticholidays.net

www.holidayoptions.co.uk

Hope this is some help, I am sure the local experts will help you with your other questions. If you have further questions, I will try to help. Enjoy your trip, may see you there!

Lisbon, Portugal
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2. Re: AZORES HOLIDAY-lots of questions.

I'm also not a specialist, but I went once for two weeks in March to S. Miguel and could not do any activity in the see due to weather conditions... so go in the spring-summer.

You're best bet for travel is a low cost to Lisbon and then get some promotion on the two air-companies flying from there to the Azores. Go to www.tap.pt and www.sata.pt for this. I got flight tickets for little more than 100 euros.

If you're just aiming for main cities hotels are fine. But if you go elsewhere you best bet are rural houses, they're really good value and worth trying specially if you're two ore more people.

Granby...
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3. Re: AZORES HOLIDAY-lots of questions.

I too am considering visiting the Azores and found this website to be quite helpful and informative (even if it is commercial) -- do peruse all the "tabs": www.azores-express.com

Edinburgh, Scotland
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4. Re: AZORES HOLIDAY-lots of questions.

Hi Chunkytom

That's some name you have selected! Anyway, down to business, I have now had three solo trips to the Azores, mainly based around walking and been on six different isalnds. No whale watching (not even so much as a glimpse of one through the bino's from land but apparently plenty are seen from the boats) so I will leave that to others but observing the operators on the islands they seem to follow a proper code, all are registered and they record sightings of all wildlife, not just whales, which seems to be good news.

Is one week enough? My strong view is no, you will pay quite a lot for your flight and it is a fair distance so why not make the most of it? Sao Miguel is fantastic but so are the others, I like the small islands like Santa Maria and Flores. SATA make multiple daily flights between all islands.

When - the obvious summer months are the best. I had great weather this mid-August. But by the time you get to September there is a fair chance of the autumn weather turning. The islands are in the middle of the Atlantic, are amazingly green and they don't get like that without some rain!

The specialist company I use for my Azores visits (and apart from using them for my holidays I have no other connection) are Archipelago Azores based in Keswick in the UK and I am sure they will help you out, they can arrange everything and the price, while it is not a cheap place, should be competative, website is http://www.azoreschoice.com. Their hard copy brochure is beautfifully laid out and has lots of info. They cover all the islands and most of the hotels and will do an all inclusive service, flights, whales, taxis, etc. Small business with helpful people.

Flights - if you can take the direct flight from Gatwick on Tuesdays by SATA (always found them to be good) this saves a night in Lisbon (the Saturday flight is new to me).

Compared to other places like Madeira car hire is fairly expensive, say 45€ per day but check.

On the plus side the Azores are serious grown up tourism - not overly commercial, beautiful islands, nice people, brilliant walking, not mass market. And for us non-linguists English is widely spoken.

Walking - for a good flavour of all the islands go for the Sunflower publications "Landscapes of the Azores" available in most bookshops.

After you have done all that you can post some other questions.

Wales, United...
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5. Re: AZORES HOLIDAY-lots of questions.

Just noticed that the direct flight from Gatwick to Ponta Delgada is advertised on www.azoreschoice.com on both a Saturday (May to Sept) and Tuesday (April to October). Looks promising!

TRK
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6. Re: AZORES HOLIDAY-lots of questions.

I'll agree with most of dedinburgh's comments.

Azores are great, not enough time in a week to see everything.

I went in late july last year, weather was fab but I'm told had only just become good.

I flew from Gatwick but via Lisbon as the Saturday return flights direct to Gatwick were 6.00am !! flights, going via Lisbon gave me a more relaxing journey.

Also went with Archipelago azores who can organise everything from car hire, dolphin trips to hotel transfers. www.azoreschoice.com.

Been with them twice and very impressed with their service.

Whale and Dolphin watching was spectacular on Sao miguel but I also took in 4 days on Faial which was just heaven. Sao Miguel has dramatic scenery, great beach and fantastic places to visit so even without Dolphin watching there's lots to do.

I plan to visit all the islands in turn.

Whichever island you visit you will have a wonderful experience.

Just try and keep their secret though, we don't Easyjet to find out and wake up one day and find they've been turned into the 'new ibiza' complete with lager tour louts !!

stonington ct
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7. Re: AZORES HOLIDAY-lots of questions.

HI my family and I just spent 2 weeks on Graciosa (relatives have an apt for rent) and several days on Tercieda. It was end of July and beg of Aug. Weather was perfect. warm and sunny water warm enouogh to swim. There is LOTS of camping on the islands and most of it is free. Cars and taxis are quite expensive and plan to rent ahead of time on the bigger islands and ferry the cars to the smaller islands.

There is not alot of internet connections on the smaller islands.. we had to use the public library computers. The euro is in use there, but prices much more reasonable than mainland Europe.

People are wonderful, friendly and helpful. Scenery is stunning and lots of walking, tho NOT on the main roads... too narrow and dangerous... the Portuguese are notoriously fast drivers! biking is difficult too, due to narrow, windy and hilly roads.

Find a local person who speaks English with a car and pay him to give you a tour. My cousin, who has a house on Graciosa and lives there in the summer, drove us for 2 days and we saw EVERYTHING there was to see, which we never would have found on our own!!! Have fun

8. Re: AZORES HOLIDAY-lots of questions.

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