ELLE (Canada) - - Lifestyle -

This is the jump­ing-off point for most vis­i­tors. It’s home to the Azores’ cap­i­tal city, Ponta Del­gada, miles of rugged coast­line and hy­drangea-lined roads and twee towns. But it also of­fers a cos­mopoli­tan ex­pe­ri­ence you won’t get on the other is­lands: more fine din­ing (though there’s still a se­lec­tion of re­ally good holes in the wall, like Taberna Açor, a tiny gem serv­ing lo­cal fare), higher-end ho­tels and fun bars and clubs. (The rooftop bar at the Azor Ho­tel is very cool and swish and has a pool with a view.) MUST- DOS: It doesn’t have jets, but the nat­u­ral hot tub at Caldeira Velha does have the ad­van­tage of ther­mal min­eral wa­ters and be­ing sur­rounded by mossy rocks and gi­ant ferns. An­other pool, a two-minute walk up a jungly path, is larger and fed by a wa­ter­fall; it’s not quite as warm, but it’s a sexy set­ting right out of a Bach­e­lor high­light reel. A short drive away is the look­out point Mi­radouro de Santa Iria; its sweep­ing views of coast­line guar­an­tee frame-wor­thy pic­tures. For a com­pletely dif­fer­ent kind of soak, head to Ponta da Fer­raria on the west coast. This nat­u­ral pool at the ocean’s edge is con­stantly fed by hot springs be­neath the sur­face, so you can sit in warm, ther­a­peu­tic wa­ters while the waves crash a few me­tres away.

A clifftop church in São Roque (above); one of many wa­ter­falls

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