São Miguel, Azores
São Miguel, located in the South Western Atlantic Ocean, the biggest island in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores, known for its volcanic scenery and flora, and most importantly one of the most beautiful and underrated destinations in the world.
A bit of history for you... both my mom and dad are Portuguese, and they were both born and raised in São Miguel. Growing up, they made sure that we were exposed to our culture and family roots, so they took my siblings and I to the Azores every other year for many years. The memories of these family vacations to the island will forever be encrypted in my heart. It's a place i've always considered a second home and I may be biased when I say this, but it's truly the most beautiful place in the world.
Its been 16 years since my last visit, but when I arrived at my avo's home, it was as though not a thing had changed. There's this smell to the island that is so distinct, the air is so fresh and everything around you is so lush and green. The fields and fields of banana trees, orange trees, figs and passion fruit were a plenty, just as I remembered. Its a nature lover's absolute dream. Upon our arrival, I was so excited to find out that there were many festas taking place during our stay. Festas, also known as a festivals, are held on the streets of each town, celebrating Portuguese history, religion and culture. The streets are decorated with beautiful flowers, the churches are illuminated and the Portuguese bands are outstanding.
If you ever decide to travel to the island, here are my top 5 must see places while visiting: Lagoa do Fogo, Calderia das Furnas, Poça da Dona Beija, Islet of Vila Franca do Campo and Sete Cidades. With vibrant lakes, volcanos, relaxing hot springs, gorgeous waterfalls, hiking trails everywhere, and endless breathtaking viewpoints, this is the Azores, and I am so proud of my culture and our home town.
(this very first picture below is my Avo Araujo's home and some of his land!)
Century-old architecture, majestic scenery, and most of all, its people. Its unlike any other destination in the world. They say that São Miguel is the jewel of the ocean, and guess what, they aren't lying.