Islands of the Azores: Basalt Peaks to Volcanic Vineyards

Islands of the Azores: Basalt Peaks to Volcanic Vineyards

From AUD $13,410


Towering basalt peaks, bubbling hot springs, nutrient-rich waters, emerald green farmlands, and the fascinating history of the explorers, whalers, and farmers that called these remote islands home—this is just a sample of the beauty and vitality you’ll discover as we explore the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. All born from volcanoes, each island has a unique landscape and piece of history that we’ll uncover as we explore these remote gems. Experience the warmth and hospitality of the locals as they share a glimpse into their island life with traditional dishes, world-class wine and cheese tastings, fado music, and the beauty of each destination.

Trip Name
Islands of the Azores: Basalt Peaks to Volcanic Vineyards
Vessel Type: Expedition Ship Passenger Capacity: 126 Length: 124 m Built: 2020 A next-generation expedition ship, purpose-built for polar navigation. National Geographic Endurance is a next-generation expedition ship, purpose-built for polar navigation. A fully stabilized, highly strengthened, ice-class Polar Code PC5 (Category A) vessel, it is designed to navigate polar passages year-round, and safely explore unchartered waters, while providing exceptional comfort. Its patented X-BOW® is key to its design; its powerful wave-slicing action provides an extremely smooth ride in even adverse conditions, and even reduces spray on deck, for superior observation. She carries a full suite of expedition tools and offers a variety of experience-enhancing amenities. The luxury of comfort on expedition National Geographic Endurance comfortably accommodates 126 guests in 69 outside-facing cabins. Cabins are efficiently designed, with sizes range from the 140-square-foot solo cabin to the 430-square-foot category 7 suite. Fifty-three of the 69 cabins, including all 12 of the solo cabins, will feature small balconies with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that bring in the spectacular views and ample natural light.  Comfort & convenience in every room Every cabin has two portholes, a large window or balcony, and temperature controls. Bathrooms are modern and stocked with botanically inspired hair products, soap, and shower gel, plus a hairdryer. Cabins are equipped with expedition command centers with tablets and USB/mobile device docking, TVs, Wi-Fi connections, and hair dryers. Dining: Food served aboard is fresh, local, and delicious, and sourced from suppliers who share our values of sustainable use whenever possible. Meals aboard are almost always served in the dining room, located aft of the lounge deck. When weather conditions allow, lighter fare may be served on the observation deck. There is no assigned seating and our dining room accommodates the entire expedition community in a single seating. During meals your expedition leader, naturalists, and any guest speakers aboard will join you. Public Areas: Two restaurants, a Chef’s Table for small group dining, Observation Lounge with bar, gym, Wellness area, infinity-style outdoor hot tubs, library, main lounge with full service bar, 24-hour beverage, state-of-the-art facilities for films, slideshows and presentations, and a photo workshop area; plus, an expedition base with lockers for expedition gear, and an “open bridge” for access to our captain, officers and the art of navigation. Meals: Two restaurants, featuring local, sustainable choices and unassigned seating for flexible, inclusive dining; plus a Chef’s table for intimate, small group dining. Main restaurant has 270º views, and the Observation deck restaurant features lighter, made-to-order fare.  Cabins: All cabins face outside with large windows, private facilities and climate controls. 53 cabins have balconies. Cabins are equipped with expedition command centers with tablets and USB/mobile device docking, TVs, Wi-Fi connections, and hair dryers. Expedition Tools: Zodiac landing craft, kayaks, snowshoes, cross-country skis, undersea specialist operating a remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and underwater video camera for unique access to polar marine world, hydrophone, aerial remote-controlled camera and video microscope. Special Features: A full-time doctor, undersea specialist, National Geographic photographer, Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor and video chronicler, an internet cafe and laundry. Wellness: The vessel is staffed by our wellness specialists and features a glass-enclosed yoga studio, gym, treatment rooms and spa relax area, and high- and low-heat saunas with ocean views. Expedition Landing Craft: Key to our operation is our fleet of expedition landing craft, which we use to land in places that would otherwise be inaccessible. With 8 of these boats and two loading stations used every time we disembark, we’re able to transfer guests off the ship quickly, so you can be out on adventures, not idly waiting. The expedition landing craft we use are 19 feet long, powered by four-stroke outboard engines, and are capable of comfortably carrying 10-12 people. They are widely recognized as the safest and most versatile small boats afloat. Remotely Operated Vehicle: Capable of reaching 1,000 feet, far beyond the range of any Scuba diver, the ROV allows you to literally view parts of the undersea that are as unexplored as the moon. Chances are you, like many of our guests, will be struck by how surprisingly colorful undersea life is in these unlikely places. And this glimpse may fundamentally change how you view the ocean. Kayaks: National Geographic Endurance will be equipped with a fleet of kayaks large enough to ensure everyone who wants to can paddle at every opportunity. Consequently, prior kayaking experience isn’t necessary—many of our guests have their first kayaking experience in extraordinary locations. Our custom-designed floating platform lets us deploy kayaks from the ship, or any location we want—including far from shore. Kayakers are usually free to explore where they want within boundaries set by the undersea specialist and officer of the watch. Underwater camera: Our undersea specialist will dive often during your expedition, even in Alaska, with cold-water gear, to shoot high-definition, Cousteau-like footage of the deep. Colorful nudibranchs, swimming, plant-like crinoids, and mysterious fish with antifreeze blood that thrive in the frigid sea will give you an entirely new appreciation of the marine environment. Video microscope: Naturalists will use the video microscope to help explain all elements of the environment, including tiny organisms that are the building block of the marine ecosystem. Spellbinding live views of krill at 80x magnification fills the high-definition screens in the lounge with vivid detail, and fills every onlooker with a sense of wonder at the importance of otherwise unobservable creatures. Hydrophone: This underwater microphone is deployed to listen to the vocalizations of marine mammals. Real time transmissions of their eerie, haunting sounds can be broadcast through the ship or recorded for later playback. Few experiences in nature are as captivating as watching humpback whales feed close to the ship as their vocalizations play through the ship’s PA system. Electronic charts: An electronic chart showing the ship’s location, course, and speed is almost always on display in the lounge. Open bridge: You’ll find our captains are engaged, knowledgeable members of your expedition who are eager to share their passion with you. Venture’s open bridge features comfortable spaces to sit, enjoy the view, drink your morning coffee, or simply chat with the officers. Snorkeling gear & wetsuits: On warm weather itineraries where there will be snorkeling, you’ll select a mask, snorkel, fins, and wetsuit that remain yours for the duration of the expedition. There’s no need to pack and tote your own gear, although guests who prefer to are welcome to bring their own.


Day 1 - DAY 1: São Miguel, Azores, Portugal / Embark
Arrive in Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel in the Azores, where we embark National Geographic Endurance. (L,D)
Day 2 - DAY 2: Pico
Named after long dormant volcano, Ponta do Pico, Pico is known as the “mountain island.” Towering over the center of the island, the peak is the tallest on the Atlantic Ridge. This morning we set off to explore this beautiful island with a notorious history of whaling and wine. Explore Lajes do Pico, once believed to be the most important whaling village in the islands. Visit the Whalers’ Museum, Museu do Baleeiros, to learn about the importance the industry had to the island. Then travel on to the wine region, where the moonscape terrain left by the lava flows has been painstakingly converted to vineyards. The lava stone corrals housing the precious vines are now considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The day would not be complete without a tasting of these very special wines. (B,L,D)
Day 3 - DAY 3: Faial
The Azores are a whale-watching mecca, where more than 20 different types of cetaceans can be spotted. We go in search of these gentle giants in the channel north of Pico and Horta islands. A researcher from the Biology Department of Azores University will join us and share details of the university’s ongoing studies as we scan the sea. Once ashore on the island of Faial, we head to Capelinhos, where we can see how dramatically the landscape changed when the volcano at the western end of the island erupted in 1957. Farms and villages were covered with ash, adding an extra two square kilometers of land to the island. Later, stroll along the marina, visit the excellent scrimshaw museum, and raise a glass at Peter Café Sport, a legendary pub where sea adventurers historically dropped off their mail. This evening enjoy a very special musical performance of the achingly beautiful Fado. The genre may trace its roots to Portugal, but the islands have made it their own. (B,L,D)
Day 4 - DAY 4: São Jorge
This morning visit São Jorge, the third corner of the “triangulo” or triangle of islands—Pico, Faial, and São Jorge. Formed by volcanic fissures, the island is an impressive mix of imposing sea cliffs and fajãs—coastal plateaus formed from the lava flows. The fertile soil has created one of the greenest and naturally beautiful islands in the archipelago. With trails that crisscross the ridge and beaches, hike to Caldeira de Santo Cristo Lake, known for its clams; visit the small villages perched on the fajãs; explore the coffee and tea plantations, one of only two places in Europe with commercial production; and take part in a tasting of the world-renowned São Jorge cheese. This afternoon we sail around the tip of the island on our way to Fajã dos Cubres and Fajã de Santo Cristo. Be on deck with your binoculars as we pass cliffs with nesting sea birds and there is always the chance to spot Risso’s dolphin or passing whales. Designated as “Wetland of International Importance”, we’ll go ashore by Zodiac to explore these secluded bays. (B,L,D)
Day 5 - DAY 5: Graciosa
Aptly named, this “gracious” island has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for the balance they have achieved between the preservation of the geography and sustainable human development. The colors of the farmland and vineyards create a beautiful patchwork that is dotted with windmills. We will travel to the ancient village of Santa Cruz and the natural monument of Caldeira da Graciosa, where we’ll glimpse Furna do Enxofre, a lava cave and underground lake. Later you’ll have time to stroll through the village of Praia, enjoy the sweet pastry - Queijadas da Graciosa, and soak up the tranquility of this quiet harbor. This afternoon enjoy Zodiac cruises, and weather permitting, kayaking in the secluded bays of Ilhéu da Praia, a small islet off the coast. This evening enjoy a presentation by a local historian that will help set the stage for our visit to Terceira and its rich past. (B,L,D)
Day 6 - DAY 6: Terceira
First settled by Portuguese navigators around 1450, Terceira grew to play a prominent role in history—a popular port of call for the ships carrying the wealth of the Americas and those trading with India, the island became the economic and religious center of the Azores. Depart on an exploration of the island; wind along the coastline and explore many of the historic villages—Porto Judeu, a small fishing village; Sao Sebastiao and its 15th century parish church; Altares with its quaint whitewashed houses, capped with the traditional chimneys and painted cones. Head upland to Algar do Carvao, a huge lava tube adorned with stalactites and stalagmites; continue exploring as you stroll through the streets of Praia da Vitoria before returning to the ship. Alternatively embark on a walking tour of UNESCO World Heritage site, Angra do Heroismo. Step back in time with our local guides and see firsthand the indelible mark left by the ancient explorers, conquerors and religious leaders. (B,L,D)
Day 7 - DAY 7: Vila de Porta, Santa Maria
Tap into the century’s old expertise of our local whale guides. These experts have centuries of ties to their surroundings and an instinct for scouting its wild inhabitants. They will guide us on our morning whale-watching. In the afternoon, we go ashore at Santa Maria, historically significant as the first landfall of Christopher Columbus on his return from the Americas in 1493. We will travel to the village of Anjos, known for its statue of the explorer and the Chapel Nossa Senhora dos Anjos, thought to be where Columbus attended his first mass upon his return from America. Continue along the coast and take in the breathtaking vistas. For those interested in getting some exercise, we will hike the Pico Alto-Baíia dos Anjos trail that will allow us to experience the scenery and atmosphere of the island – making its way from Pico Alto, the highest point on the island, to the sea where we will observe marine birds in their azure surroundings. (B,L,D)
Day 8 - DAY 8: São Migue
Day 9 - DAY 9: São Miguel / Disembark / Home
This morning we disembark and travel to Sete Cidades, a lovely village set amongst green and blue lakes. Enjoy exploring the lakes and village before we are treated to a traditional Azorean lunch. Transfer to the airport and homebound flights. (B,L)
Day 10 - Please note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
30-04-202408-05-2024AUD $13,410Category 1
30-04-202408-05-2024AUD $13,770Category 2
30-04-202408-05-2024AUD $16,780Category 3
30-04-202408-05-2024AUD $18,460Category 4
30-04-202408-05-2024AUD $20,440Category 5
30-04-202408-05-2024AUD $20,980Suite A Solo
30-04-202408-05-2024AUD $23,060Suite B Solo
30-04-202408-05-2024AUD $23,430Category 6
30-04-202408-05-2024AUD $26,000Category 7
02-04-202510-04-2025AUD $14,180Category 2
02-04-202510-04-2025AUD $17,280Category 3
02-04-202510-04-2025AUD $19,020Category 4
02-04-202510-04-2025AUD $20,720Suite A Solo
02-04-202510-04-2025AUD $21,060Category 5
02-04-202510-04-2025AUD $24,140Category 6
02-04-202510-04-2025AUD $25,920Suite B Solo
02-04-202510-04-2025AUD $26,790Category 7
02-04-202510-04-2025AUD $13,810Category 1
10-04-202518-04-2025AUD $13,810Category 1
10-04-202518-04-2025AUD $14,180Category 2
10-04-202518-04-2025AUD $17,280Category 3
10-04-202518-04-2025AUD $19,020Category 4
10-04-202518-04-2025AUD $20,720Suite A Solo
10-04-202518-04-2025AUD $21,060Category 5
10-04-202518-04-2025AUD $24,140Category 6
10-04-202518-04-2025AUD $25,920Suite B Solo
10-04-202518-04-2025AUD $26,790Category 7
18-04-202526-04-2025AUD $13,810Category 1
18-04-202526-04-2025AUD $14,180Category 2
18-04-202526-04-2025AUD $17,280Category 3
18-04-202526-04-2025AUD $19,020Category 4
18-04-202526-04-2025AUD $20,720Suite A Solo
18-04-202526-04-2025AUD $21,060Category 5
18-04-202526-04-2025AUD $24,140Category 6
18-04-202526-04-2025AUD $25,920Suite B Solo
18-04-202526-04-2025AUD $26,790Category 7


    • Aboard National Geographic Endurance, take advantage of the ship’s state-of the-art amenities, from wellness programs and spa treatments to gourmet dining options as we travel to the more secluded and seldom-visited islands of the Azores Archipelago
    • April is one of the best months to see the many whales that pass through these waters on their annual migrations. With the help of some of the best whale spotters in the world, search for fin, blue, sei, and pilot whales, just to name a few
    • Discover the varied past and the stories of explorers, whalers, and conquerors who all had a part in weaving the tapestry of island history
    • Experience the commitment the locals have to sustainable growth and protecting the natural beauty and ecosystems of the archipelago