The World's Most Natural Hot Tubs - Sao Miguel, Azores
The archipelago of Azores is home to dark sand beaches, fumaroles, and volcano peaks, but did you know that across the islands, especially in Sao Miguel, there are places where you can bathe in water heated by the volcano?
That's right, in the Azores you can swim in HOT volcanic water.
Below are 4 of the most famous places where you can take a warm dip, any time of the year! Yes, including wintertime!
Termas da Ferraria
There aren't many places in the world where you can swim in water heated by a volcano, let alone in the ocean.
Termas da Ferraria is gaining more popularity now as tourism grows, but I've been coming to this hidden gem for over a decade, back when a lot of people living on the island didn't even know about it!
On the most western point of the island lies a volcanic tube or volcanic arm under the ocean that heats up the salt water, in the open ocean. Yea, I know, it's a lot to process!
When the tide is low, you can be in the ocean and experience it as a hot tub. The same ocean that a few hours later will be back to cold regular ocean water. But be careful! When the tide gets too low, it gets so hot that it can literally boil you.
Think of timing your visit here like Goldilocks, not too cold, not too hot! You'll want to come about 30-45 minutes before or 30-45 minutes after the lowest tide of the day. You can easily find out the tide by searching on Google "tide in Sao Miguel island today". If you do not come around low tide, you will not experience the heat at all - you've been warned.
It's magical to be swimming in the open ocean, feeling cool water coming in and feeling the water heat up as it approaches you. This place is so magical that doctors and elderly locals have been coming here for years as therapy to treat many conditions including arthritis, skin conditions, muscle pain, stress, headaches, and much more!
As the years have evolved, so has the space. There is now a cafe, a thermal spa centre where you can get massages, physiotherapy and other therapies, as well as strings in the ocean water to help everyone stay put and not bump into each other as the tide is quite strong. When I first visited Ferraria, none of this was there!
As of now, it's been free to go into the ocean water, so check it out and have your mind blown with this incredibly unique experience!
Parque Terra Nostra
Have you ever wanted to enter a magical park? Welcome to Terra Nostra.
Located in Furnas, on the southeast side of Sao Miguel, lies a must-see botanical garden known for its thermal pool.
Smack in the center of the entrance is a giant thermal pool filled with minerals from the volcano, mostly iron, that give it its yellow color. It's very relaxing and there are a few spots around the pool where you can get a nice neck massage from the mini spots pouring in. The pool is mostly pretty deep, except around the edges.
TIP: do not wear any bikini or swimwear that you care too much about. Stick to black as the orange will likely not affect it. Any light coloured swimwear will be stained yellow and you cannot get it off!
The garden itself was founded over 200 years ago and lies on 12.5 hectares of space! There are over 800 species of plants from all around the world and some of the most beautiful landscapes and scenery you'll ever see. This attraction can take you the whole afternoon if you walk through everything - which I highly recommend.
They recently added a few more thermal jacuzzi's in the garden as well, but I have yet to try them out.
The garden is connected to Parque Terra Nostra Hotel, which seems beautiful and I would love to stay there one day in the future.
To guests of the hotel, the garden and thermal pools are available for free 24/7!! It must be magical to have that place to yourself at night!
To everyone else, here are the hours and pricing information for 2021:
2021 Opening Hours:
Every day from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm
2021 Ticket Price:
Children ( 0-2 yrs): free entry
Children (3-10 yrs): 4.00€
Poça da Dona Beija
A 5-minute drive from Terra Nostra Park lies another beautiful area to spend some time in thermal pools - Poça da Dona Beija. Heated from an iron-rich water spring, there are 5 beautiful pools, spread across a natural waterfall, making it a mystical place of leisure and relaxation.
The iron present in the water creates the same orange colour as in the Terra Nostra thermal pool. No, you won't turn into an Oompa Loompa, but you will be doing some serious healing without even trying! The iron content in the water helps to combat anemia, allergies, acne, parasitic diseases, restless leg syndrome and it fights fatigue! Plus the heat of the water provides pain relief in the muscles, relaxing your body and combating stress.
Looking for something to do as soon as you arrive to get some energy back? Take a trip to Poça da Dona Beija.
Alongside the walls of the pool, you'll find a build up of iron-rich mud which you can smear on your face or body. As the years passed, we realized the mud got a bit dirtier which was just normal because of the amount of people visiting. But if you go to the pool closest to the top, you'll find mud you can use still :)
This spot is also super cool because you can come here at night! It's a popular spot for a romantic date with couples - even though we haven't been at night, it's on our list!
When I first visited, there was no gift shop or entrance fee. As the space has rightfully gained popularity, there is now a 6.00€ entrance fee and a maximum of 1.5 hours allowed in the pools.
It's an incredibly therapeutic place to relax and rejuvenate, oh and it's also super instagrammable.
Fun fact: Terra Nostra and Poca Da Dona Beija are hot springs from the same volcanic activity of Furnas (where you can see the fumaroles up close, and even have your dinner cooked in the ground!). The mud at Furnas is grey and super therapeutic. In fact, the KARDASHIANS (yes, THE Kardashians) order mud specifically from the Azores for their own use!
Caldeira Velha is a nature preserve where you can swim in a warm waterfall, hang out in hot springs, and take a stroll in the beautiful park. Located just south of Ribeira Grande (where I spent most of my summers) is this SUPER popular attraction in Sao Miguel.
Tourists and locals alike enjoy spending an afternoon in one of the multiple pools, picnicking in the natural park and taking in all the lush, greenery and nature that surrounds the entire area.
As the park gets more and more popular, I'd recommend going in the morning to beat the rush or booking tickets in advance (3.00€ park entrance or 8.00€ with thermal pool access) as there is a maximum of 250 visitors (at a time I believe) to keep the park intact.
I hope you enjoyed this blog and if you experience any of these incredible thermal pools in Sao Miguel, let me know how you liked it!
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