The Faces of Sao Miguel: A Geographic Gift

Last updated: Jan 12th, 2024

Volcanic and tranquil Sao Miguel, the centrepiece and biggest of the 9 islands of the Portuguese state of the Azores, is a juxtaposition of contrasting geographic aspects.

Cataclysmic and Edenic, peaceful yet straddling tectonic plates, bovine abundance but mass dairy exportation, intriguing farming – it’s a green oasis borne of fire and ash over the course of thousands of years. Offering geography, activity, memories by the truckload, all in a unique and ancient setting, only elevates the individual feel of Sao Miguel. And we’ve compiled all those nuggets below.

Check them out!

Volcanism – out of Fire, Land!

Sao Miguel houses 3 central stratovolcanoes with summit calderas, Fogo, Furnas & Sete Cidades, that are linked by Pico and Congro, which are two zones of fissure volcanism. Stunning, the craters of Sete, Fogo, Furnas feed into the aesthetically primordial feel of Azores in general. Which is to say, they are ancient leftovers of gargantuan geographic moments that span thousands of years.

The best bit? You can experience the enchantments of those lush landscapes, learn about the geography, take part in activities like kayaking, biking and stew cooked from the ground, all on our educational and geographic school trips to the island. And they’re just the start…


Sete Cidades, Lagoa do Fogo and Furnas Valley, on Sao Miguel in the Azores, shown side by side.


Seismic, Tectonic – Positionally Unique!

The Azores sits on the Triple Junction of the Eurasian, African and North American tectonic plates, with Sao Miguel resting on the Eurasian and African zones. Some of the interactions between these plates are still a mystery!

Seismic swarms, intriguing subterranean as well as submarine activity lend to the cooking pot of a majestic, unique and ancient island. Students best place to unearth this? The Vulcanological & Geothermal Observatory.

Abundant in Cows

The next thing you’re likely to see is the countless amount of cows!

There’s a thriving bovine community on the island producing tons of dairy products. In fact, the Portuguese mainland is bursting with Azorean cheese and milk. The reason those milk machines are so abundant? It’s because Sao Miguel is the perfect setting for grass. A mild climate, rainy episodes and acidic and volcanic soil mean the island is absolutely jam-packed with the green stuff.

A big group of cows, with green rolling mountains behind them and baby blue hydrangeas in the foreground, graze on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores.


Intriguing Farming – Humans Utilising the Special Landscape

Sao Miguel is distinctive in its farming produce, going from oranges to tea (the Gorreana Tea Plantation has been running since 1883!), to dairy and a top tier pineapple grown in a greenhouse (which you can visit too).

The exceptional soil, climate and precipitation mean the land gave humans a springboard to produce quality farming goods, but due to the lack of the Atlantic states size, other countries were able to scale easier.

Fantastic examples on Sao Miguel give your students a real effortless insight into how humans have interacted with, and used, the Azorean land. Those are just a few…

Places to See, Things to Do!

Being the biggest in the archipelago, Sao Miguel emits blockbuster geographic vibes marinated in unforgettable, lifetime moments. Some of those ‘seeing is believing’ moments include stunning forays into untouched worlds, that are exemplified in places like:

  • Furnas Valley
  • Sete Cidades
  • Gruta do Carvao Lava Tube
  • Lagoa do Fogo & Caldeira Velha
  • Vulcanological & Geothermal Observatory
  • And so much more…

Mythical, Magical – Sao Miguel is Awaiting Your Discovery!

There it is, the many faces of the fascinating and extraordinary Sao Miguel! We could speak until the cows come home about the wonders, enchantments, educational aspects and unforgettable moments of the biggest Azorean island (and we often do!).

Want to chat about this lush, green oasis in the middle of the gorgeous blue waters of the Atlantic? Call us today and we can get the ball rolling.


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