FOR THE STOPOVER CROWD: SÃO MIGUEL
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