Difference between revisions of "São Miguel"
Revision as of 14:54, 15 March 2013
Sao Miguel, also known as “The Green Island”, is the largest of the islands that make up the Azores, Portugal. This beautiful island inhabits about 150,000 people, is approximately 293 square miles and is located in the Atlantic Ocean near the coast of the mainland of Portugal. The scenery offers stunning lakes, sandy beaches, green hills and plains and crystal blue ocean views. The varying elevations of Sao Miguel give it a rolling hills appearance with separating layers of flat farmland. The Island offers the traditional Portuguese cobble stone streets mixed with contemporary architecture and modern shops and cafes. The volcanic origin of Sao Miguel can be easily observed on the island due to cones, craters and natural boiling water springs. Prince Henry the Navigator first inhabited the island in 1431 as a place to put his many flocks of sheep and the following year the first settlers arrived. Tourists often visit the Island between June and October to enjoy the hot weather at the many sandy beaches. São Miguel has a moderate coastal climate, with fog, rain and not very hot summer temperatures. It is very humid and green.
The island of São Miguel is accessible by air through João Paulo II (Nordela) International Airport (PDL/LPPD), which handles domestic/regional traffic to the island, as well as international flights from Europe and North America. SATA International and TAP Air Portugal are the primary Portuguese air carriers serving the island, although several European and North American carriers provide charter services to the island.
Renting a car at the airport is one of the best ways to explore and get around the island. Sao Miguel is small enough to drive around in a day, and there is much to see that is only accessed by car.
You can also travel between the larger towns by bus.
São Miguel has several calderas, and hot springs can be found scattered over the island; mostly in the middle highlands.
In the west there is a caldera and volcano crater that is almost filled by the beautiful Sete Cidades twin seas and the town of Sete Cidades. Steep mountain walls surrounds the lakes, one is azure blue, the other is greyish, and this is explained in a local myth.
There are some marked hiking trails on the island, for example in and around the Sete Cidades caldera. These are usually one-day trails that any beginner hiker can enjoy. Organised whale- and dolphin-watching from small boats operating out of Ponta Delgada is increasingly popular with tourists.
In 2012 Sào Miguel has received the QualityCoast Gold Award for its efforts to become a sustainable tourism destination. Because of this award Sào Miguel has been selected for inclusion in the global atlas for sustainable tourism DestiNet. 
There is very little crime on the island. Most crimes are drug related and are generally localized in Ponta Delgada and Ribeira Grande. Crimes against tourists are very rare.
The other Azores islands can be accessed by boat or plane from São Miguel.