I don't normally revisit places I've already visited, but Sao Miquel and Quinta das Acacias are the exception. For the second year in a row, I stayed at this incredible property and this year I brought along 2 of my brothers and their wives. Bonita and Ed welcomed me back with heartfelt hugs and made my family feel as though they were old friends.
Bonita arranged for our car rentals at a great rate. After a breakfast at an oceanside restaurant on Populo Beach we were able to check in early. I returned to the 1 bedroom cottage that I stayed in last year. The upgrades Ed made to the cottage were lovely and it was the perfect home for my 9 days stay. My brothers stayed in a lovely and spacious 2 bedroom cottage next to us. Each cottage is fully equipped, even with a clothes washer and is modern and scrupulously clean. Wifi is included. The complex is an amazing home to Ed's sculptures and his mastery of landscaping. Everywhere you look there are gorgeous flowers, trees and herbs. Bonita was sure to invite us to pick fresh herbs for our cooking and suggested the fresh lavender and lemon grass for tea. The Quinta is located in the tiny village of Livramento. A short drive from the airport and city of Ponta Delgada, but a world away from the noise of either. It is located almost mid island, making going most anywhere on the island easy. The complex is surrounded by a wall and you have a remote control to open the gate to gain entrance.
Despite some rainy weather, my family and I enjoyed a great part of the island beauty thanks to the fabulous recommendations of Bonita. A highlight of our stay was the day we spent at the hot spring in the ocean in Ferraria. We enjoyed a lunch for 14 euros which included the buffet, beer or wine, dessert, entrance to their heated outdoor pool and lockers & changing rooms. Best deal on the island and an awesome experience! You must do this at low tide. Near the entrance to a cove, the ocean water is cold, but near the back of the cove hot water comes out of hot springs so the ocean temperature is a very warm 28 degrees Celsius there.
Another highlight of our stay was the full day horseback riding that Bonita arranged for us at Quinta da Terca. It's just a short, pleasant walk from Quinta das Acacias. They carefully paired us up with the appropriate gentle and patient horses, since 5 of us were beginner riders. Clara, our attentive and skilled guide led us on a wonderful trip around the volcano crater rim overlooking the twin lakes at Sete Cidades, then down inTo the crater. An incredible homemade lunch with local food and wine was waiting for us lakeside and was a welcome break in our ride.
A must do is a long, leisurely soak in one of the many natural hot springs on the island. We visited Caldiera Velha Natural Reserve. For a 2 euro entrance fee you are able to walk through peaceful woods to an information center explaining the volcanic nature of the island. There are changing rooms and 2 pools for soaking, one at the base of a small waterfall.
For the energetic, a walk down to the lighthouse on the cliffs of Nordeste is also a must. The walk down the very steep road past the lighthouse to the tiny fishing settlement is worth the effort. Cabins built into the side of the sheer cliffs are amazing and the waterfall nearby makes it a picture perfect scene.
A hidden gem was Casa do Tralbho Do Nordeste, a school that teaches the old way of making yarn & weaving it on ancient looms and producing wonderful textiles.
Ceramica VieIra in Lagoa is an interesting way to spend an hour. You can tour this factory and watch beautiful Ceramic pieces being hand made and painted. There is a small shop with pieces for purchase.
Bonita was very helpful in her recommendations for restaurants and she made reservations for us at Cais 20, on the water in nearby S. Roque. Our table was overlooking the water and we were served by the fabulous Silvio! Our table enjoyed a variety of local seafood and beef and we all agreed that it was extremely delicious. Silvio told us that the restaurant offers free pick up and drop off service for guests on the island. Bonita also made reservations for usto enjoy a cozidos meal at Calderias do Vulcoes in Furnas. These meals are slow cooked in pots in the ground heated by natural hot water springs. We enjoyed both a fish and meat cozidos, cooked with vegetables.
My stay on this lovely island was way too short. I know I will return again to Quinta das Acacias. I have a lot more relaxing to do in Ed and Bonita's slice of heaven and more exploring of this fascinating, untouristy and beautiful island.
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