As a physical demarcation of where the Eurasian, African and North American tectonic plates crash together, it is unsurprising that Sao Miguel's landscape is so raw and wild, and teeming with abundant marine life. This is the largest island in the Azores and subsequently the hub of the entire archipelago and deserving of a longer stay than on most of the other islands.
For water babies the undoubted highlight is the incredible offshore volcano crater known as the islet of Vila Franco do Campo. Now dormant, this almost perfectly circular caldera has been breached in one place creating a huge natural swimming pool filled with very calm water from the Atlantic Ocean and is a great place for a combo of open water dives and dives in the more shielded areas within the crater. Divers will become well acquainted with Vila Franca do Campo, and our favourite dive guide there, Carlos, will regale you with fun stories about the island before and after your dives. Another Sao Miguel diving gem is the wreck of the SS Dori wreck, which was involved in Operation Overlord (D Day) in Normandy, and which now lies just 900 yards offshore from Ponta Delgada. Other dive sites of note and accessible from Sao Miguel are Ambrosio for huge shoals of barracuda, and Formigas and Dollabarat, the best places to catch a glimpse of (seasonally dependent, just ask us when!) mantas and mobulas.
Unlike the smaller, more remote islands, Sao Miguel has a colourful and bustling metropole in Ponta Delgada. There's a thriving foodie culture and cheap yet delicious local petiscos (Portuguese tapas) on offer, so we recommend trying everything you can get your hands on while you're there. Meanwhile, the natural beauty of the island, with its patchwork of green fields and volcanic craters, is a treat. From the aquamarine flooded crater Lagoa do Fogo (lake of fire) to the 30ft Salto Do Cabrito waterfall, there is a lot of natural glory to take in.
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