After having some scooter experience in Spain, I felt that a good way to get a first view of the Azores would be to grab a scooter and have a day around the island. Vacation planning for 2018 did not allow me more than having one day on the main island, Sao Miguel – so it has been challenging. However, Spanish and Portuguese laws supported my plans by a very nice feature: with a certain level of driving experience, you are allowed to ride 125ccm scooters with your ordinary car drivers licence. Thus, the curvy hill roads are not necessarily an impossible task for a lame 50ccm (which is included in the car driving licence in Germany) having to carry an overweight travel blogger. Due to the many pictures and the large report, I decided to split this report into two parts. Part 2 can be found here.
Sao Miguel on Two Wheels – Scooter Rental
I decdided to opt for ANC Holidays, majorly due to the fleet they offered and the proximity to my hotel. The scooter I booked and received was a Honda Forza 125. I rented the scooter for one day (received it in the morning and returned in the evening) on May, 30th, 2018, for a rental fee of 40 EUR. The rate includes Third Party Insurance with a deductible of 500 EUR and a helmet. The service was very professional. What I especially like is that they do a video of the scooter before rental and sent it to you by mail. I feel that this is a perfect reference.
On return, the service has also been very good. As I did return the vehicle with a damage after slipping in a curve, it took some one hour to return it. However, this included the full handling of the damage, including my payment of it. The scooter slided on the right side at low speed, which roughly costed me 750 EUR.
Sao Miguel on Two Wheels – The Route
I decided for an 8-alike route thorugh the island, which finally covered a distance of some 400 kilometres within eleven hours, breaks included:
Sao Miguel on Two Wheels – Highlights of the Tour
I split the tour into several sub-sections:
Go West – To Sete Cidades and Lagoa Azul
A drove along the coast on the Av. Infante Dom Henrique Eastbound to exit the city. Initially I wanted to pass the airport on its Southern side, but this route was closed, so that I first took the wrong route and made a detour along Ponta Delgada airport (link to the airport review) before I followed the ENT1-1A ring road. Having said that, the road numbers, which I also used to prepare the trip, have been completely useless for me, as they are not reflected in any road signs on the island. However, just orientating myself on the next destination worked out pretty well. In gerneral, it was easy to orientate, as not only the cities and sights, but also the viewpoints (“Miradouro”) have been signposted.
Thus, I turned right, when the sight to Sete Cidades turned up. The city is close to Lagoa Azul, which is maybe the most photographed lake and landscape on Sao Miguel. The route up there has been scenic and absolutely beautiful. After a couple of kilometres, there were the first Miradouro to overlook the lake area. A very popular viewpoint is the abandoned Hotel Monte Palace, which would have still have an excellent view, if not closed in 1990 after a very short time of opening. There are numerous inside pictures of it on google maps and other websites, I decided not to enter it. With all the raising interest on Azores tourism, I would not be sure if there was not another attempt one day to open a hotel here.
From Monte Palace, I went down to the city (apart from some minor detours), including views of the smaller Lagoa Rasa and Lagoa de Santiago.
The Northwestern Coast
From Sete Cidades, I followed on the route to Varzea, where I visited the beautiful Miradouro da Ponta do Escalvado. From there, I headed on North to visit the beautiful city of Mosteiros, before I headed on the ring road on its Northwestern part. You came across a couple of cute villages – one I remembered best was Sao Antonio. Capelas is also a nice place to visit. I more or less followed the ring road until Ribeira Grande, in which I maybe spent less time than this major village would have deserved.
Caldeira Velha and Lagoa de Fogo
The next stage of the trip crossed the island from North to South. From Ribeira Grande, I followed the route South which lead me to two very characteristic sites of the islands: the first is Caldeira Velha. The travel guide I read before names it as a lonely thermal bath, popular by the locals, but not that touristic. The latest tripadvisor ratings already name it a overpriced, too full attraction. After I saw the masses of cars around the entrance, I felt that the internet platform might be more up to date. Some locals told me later that it is still amazing to go there in the winter months, where the Azores are more off-season (though there is no real Azores off-season any more…). Right next to this one is Lagoa di Fogo, which is just a beautiful place and offers numerous beautiful lookouts. After I enjoyed the views, I followed on until I met the ring road on its Southern part again.
Sao Miguel on Two Wheels – Picture Gallery
I named this article as my most important article in 1st half 2018 in my Very Important Postings post.