They say in the Azores that you can experience every season in one day. So you can imagine our surprise (and smugness) when every day for the first five days we woke up to blue skies and sunshine. However finally on day six our luck ended and we experienced the true Azorean weather – of course on the day we intended to go and do a five hour hike around the famous Sete Cidades lakes! However in true British style we were determined to go on regardless, so with packed lunches made and walking shoes at the ready, we arrived at the start of the walk only to find a wall of fog so thick that we couldn’t even see the lakes below.
Luckily the Azores have plenty of rainy day activities that are best suited for cooler weather. So we decided to make the most of this and swap our days around to instead have a hot springs day. Inside I was secretly doing a happy dance – a day of lying in hot pools rather than a five hour hike – result!! We had come prepared with sandals, towels and swimmers in the car so we didn’t need to go back to Ponta Delgada. So from Sete Cidades we headed straight down to the coastal town of Ferraria on the west coast to visit Ponta da Ferraria.
Unlike any thermal pool I’ve ever visited, the thermal pool at Ferraria is in the Atlantic sea. It’s probably worth mentioning here that the sea in the Azores is quite cold. So much so that it’s the first place I have been scuba diving and been given boots and a hood to wear. They say that on average in July its around 20 degrees, making it warm enough to go in when the sun is out but pretty nippy when it isn’t (as was the case the day we visited). Therefore when I first saw the pool at Ferraria in a sea cove, I honestly didn’t believe it would be warm.
We changed into our swimmers and carried our bags down the path to the black rocks by the pool. I tentatively lowered myself down the metal ladder and dipped my foot in the water to discover glorious steaming hot sea water. Heaven!!! I couldn’t believe it and quickly lowered the rest of my body in and swam over to the first set of ropes to get my balance.
The main flow of thermal water into the pool flows in at the back of the cove and mixes with the cool sea water to produce different temperatures at different times. We were very lucky that we arrived during low tide, meaning the water was at its warmest and in certain spots it was easily 40 degrees. As it is tidal, the water does get a bit choppy so ropes have been put in criss-crossing the width of the pool to hold onto to for balance.
As it was low tide, it was quite busy however we really enjoyed watching people arrive and lower themselves in and seeing the look of surprise on their face when they first felt the warmth of the pool. And it never felt overcrowded or too busy that there wasn’t space for everyone.
The best thing about Ferraria was that it was like being in a boiling hot spring and a freezing plunge pool all at once! We would spend 10-15 minutes laying in the heat then we would swim out towards the sea to cool off before heading back in to repeat the whole process again. We spent the best part of an hour and a half swimming up and down the cove enjoying the novelty of the natural pool. In my opinion these are an absolute must on anyone’s itinerary when visiting Sao Miguel!
COST: 5/5 The pool is free to enter which surprised me, especially given it was clearly being maintained with a good path down, there were ladders and ropes in the pool and basic changing rooms were available.
CLEANLINESS: 5/5 The water was crystal clear.
IN THEEE WORDS: MAGICAL, UNIQUE, WILD
After Ferraria, we drove across the northern coastal path to the beautiful town of Nordeste. There the weather had cleared a little so we did a few hours of walking, before heading to Furnas for dinner and an evening soak in the Dona Beja baths – post to follow!