International,Travel,Water Adventures

Visiting the Azores: I Braved the Oceanic Volcanic Thermal Pool of Ponta da Ferraria

thermal pool ponta da ferraria

Ponta da Ferraria

On my recent solo trip visiting the Azores Islands, I witnessed unfathomable scenes of natural beauty on the island of Sao Miguel.  This is the largest of the 9 Portuguese islands that form the Azores, 900 miles west of mainland Portugal.

During my extensive Pinterest board trip planning, I came across the thermal pool of Ponta da Ferraria.  There is a cove in the ocean heated by the hydrothermal vents beneath the surface. I’ve been in many a hot tub in my life and I’ve visited a natural hot spring, but I can’t say I’ve been in a volcanic hot tub in the ocean.   Yes please!

I didn’t have any success finding a tour to take me so I rented a car to get there on my own. Some advice suggested high tide as the optimal time to experience the pool because it would be uncomfortably warm during low tide.  I received another tip to take a dip during low tide because I wouldn’t be able to feel the warmth with high tide.   Sigh! What to do?

I decided I would go at the end of low tide.  If it was too hot, then I would just wait for the high tide to roll in.

I ventured to the western side of the island, stopping to take in a few supreme views along the way.  When I arrived at Ponta da Ferraria, I found a jagged coast of black lava rocks outlining the roaring northern Atlantic Ocean.

thermal pool ponta da ferraria

As I headed down the boardwalk following the signs for a free natural pool, I started to feel my nerves. The prior day the weather had been grand with blue skies and minimal winds.  Unfortunately on this day it was overcast, chilly, and extremely windy.   The water rushing into the cove was churning fiercely.  It was beautiful and intimidating all at the same time.

I walked out onto the lava rocks to investigate just how perilous this might be.  There were ropes in the cove to hang on to although I wasn’t entirely sure what the ropes were attached to.  There was also a ladder to lower yourself down into the cove.   I got on hands and knees to reach down and feel the water.  It was tepid – not icy cold but not the warmth I had read about either.

Ferraria thermal pool Sao Miguel Azores Portugal

The wind is literally slicing me in half at this point.

 

What a fail. I was disappointed, thinking I hadn’t timed the tides right and this trip would be a total bust. I was freezing so I decided I would head back to the car and on to my next destination.

There was a little voice saying, you came this far to get back in your car?  No way. You have to do this.  Are you a chicken?  This is not the “Adventure Is a Lifestyle Way”.  So, I went into the changing rooms and put on my bathing suit and swim shorts and water shoes. Y.O.L.O. right?

My plan was to hold on for dear life to the ladder, snap a couple of Go Pro selfies, then climb out and put on clothes on top of the swim suit, and run to the changing room and change into my spare dry clothes.  Oh…and also not to get washed out of the cove out to sea and die…mildly important.  Easy peezy right?

So down I went with this new found air of confidence which I have no idea where it came from.  But as I approached the cove again, there was a tourist couple there surveying the area just as I had done earlier.  They saw me preparing and they asked if I was seriously going to get in.  I responded with the most confident yes I could get out. They said they were afraid but they would watch and see how I liked it.  LOL I’m thinking well that’s fine with me; at least there are witnesses now.  The woman also offered to take photos for me once I got in.  Winning!

thermal pool ponta da ferraria

I’m in the only oceanic volcanic thermal pool on the planet!! Jacuzzis are for suckers. This is where it’s at.

 

I backed down the ladder slowly.  The water wasn’t freezing but it wasn’t warm either.  I took the initial step down off of the ladder and there was a rock ledge there.  Perfect! And what do you know?! My legs felt warmth!  So I descended all the way down and sat on the submerged rocks with the water up to my neck and it was warm!!  I mean warm warm – like hot tub warm.  I recorded a Go Pro video, took a few selfies, and then I sat marveling at the raging waters just beyond the protected cove.

**record scratch**

COLD!!!  It’s so cold!  What in THE hell?  So this must be high tide rushing in.  As the cold Atlantic waves got bigger and stronger the cold water rushed into the cove in one big wave and it caught me slipping.  It also started to generate some powerful suction so I had to really hold on tight to the bottom of the ladder.  But once the cold water rushed out it was nice and warm again.  Ahhhhh, so relaxing.  Oh no….cold!  So very cold!    I had no desire to keep up this hot/cold dance.  High tide you win.

It was a nice short stint but hey, mission accomplished.  I did it!  I swam in the only natural thermal pool in the ocean on the planet!  Go me! Gone girl! Who’s bad!

Azores

So warm…until high tide had to roll in and kill my vibe.

 

What a magnificent phenomenon.  This was a total God moment for me.  Nature has wowed my pants off once again.   If you find yourself visiting Sao Miguel, it’s worth the drive to check out the thermal pool of Ponta da Ferraria and it’s free!

I was really tempted to do the spa experience, but I was pressed for time if I was going to make it to the other side of the island.  The spa, Termas da Ferraria, uses the same thermal waters for thermal baths and other treatments.  Hopefully there will be a next time and I can visit the spa too.

Another Pinterest board challenge checked off of the list and most importantly – I didn’t die.  How will I ever go back to the common, lame hot tub after this experience?

Be sure to subsribe to the blog! There are so many adventures to share from the Azores trip and you don’t want to miss a single one.

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ponta da ferraria

 

 

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Amanda Elizabeth - Meet @ the Barre
    April 22, 2015 at 7:15 am

    I am so glad you stopped by because I can’t wait to read more of your travels! What an amazing experience! Check that one off girl!

    • Reply
      Lauren
      April 22, 2015 at 7:53 am

      Thanks Amanda! I do crazy stuff on my travels but I’m intimidated by barre class. Makes no sense right?

  • Reply
    Lora
    April 22, 2015 at 10:23 am

    Beautiful! Just beautiful! I looooooove seeing all of your travels. I live vicariously through you! (I really need to get me on the road! I haven’t been on a road trip or out of the country in YEARS!!) You are an inspiration!

    • Reply
      Lauren
      April 22, 2015 at 10:35 am

      Thanks for reading Lora! I’m glad I can inspire you. Now get to planning and make it happen!

  • Reply
    Alexandria @ Al2getherfit
    April 22, 2015 at 11:12 am

    How cool is that?! I’ve been waiting this post ever since you told me you were going there!!

    • Reply
      Lauren
      April 22, 2015 at 11:22 am

      Alexandria thanks for reading! I have sooo much content….a book’s worth of content. I wish I could sit and write about the trip everyday! Stay tuned. There is more coming.

  • Reply
    Nichole
    April 22, 2015 at 11:24 am

    I was telling my husband about you the other day. I can’t remember how it came up, but I was like,”She goes to crazy places alone…I could never!” I remember you telling me about this trip at the Give and Grub event…It looks like an ah-mazing time, my friend!

    • Reply
      Lauren
      April 22, 2015 at 11:25 am

      LOL Nichole! It was so amazing. I have sooo many stories. I think when I’m done you guys will be sick of hearing about this place.

  • Reply
    Beth Blacker
    April 22, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Wow…what an awesome experience! Would love to go there one day just so I can do exactly the same thing as you. Thanks for sharing via #LinkLove #TBB

  • Reply
    Raffie
    May 25, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    I loved reading this! It grows the excitement for my trip…I’m heading to the Azores next week! I planned on getting a tour once there, but see that you weren’t lucky with doing that. Any advice/suggestions for my trip?!

    • Reply
      Lauren
      May 26, 2015 at 10:24 am

      Yes Raffie! A ton. I’m still working on my content but if you send me a message through my contact me it will go to my email and I can send you some info.

  • Reply
    Maureen Gapp
    July 25, 2016 at 5:11 am

    Just FYI the Big Island of Hawaii has numerous open ocean thermal hotsprings for you to explore

    • Reply
      Lauren
      March 9, 2017 at 9:46 pm

      There are thermal hots springs in Hawaii but that’s a little different from what this is. The other hot pools I’ve seen on Hawaii are protected by reefs and not open to the open ocean as this one is. This is an a hot pool of water that is not protected from the open ocean by any type of reef or rock ledges.

  • Reply
    Tia | Pennies In My Pocket
    March 13, 2017 at 11:42 pm

    This looks like such an awesome experience. The Azores is on my bucket list because of you.

    • Reply
      Lauren
      March 14, 2017 at 1:33 am

      I know you’ll get there eventually. It’s definitely one of my favorite places in the world

  • Reply
    Mimi Green
    March 14, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    YOLO for sure. This was an opportunity of a life time. Kudos to you for doing it anyway.

  • Reply
    Christine St.Vil
    March 15, 2017 at 1:25 am

    Wow, I’ve never heard of this before! You are one brave and bad chick! Love how the couple was around just in time 🙂

    • Reply
      Lauren
      March 15, 2017 at 1:47 am

      LOL Thanks Christine. Yeah the couple was a total Godsend! I knew He approved that adventure in that moment haha

  • Reply
    Thirty30Courtney
    March 15, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Ahhh I would have been ALL over this. I love it. I know that high tide water was a buzzkill but you did it and got photos!

    • Reply
      Lauren
      March 15, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      LOL Courtney. Yes that cold behind water was no joke but it’s an experience I will never forget.

  • Reply
    Vany|misscoilyhair
    March 20, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Love your persistence. I probably would’ve chickened out especially if I was alone. Your pictures are gorgeous too.

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