Wikipedia says: A hot spring is a spring produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater that rises from the Earth’s crust. Sao Miguel is one of these places where you can enjoy hot springs with the normal (not boiling or extremely hot) temperature and spend some time getting pleasure from the natural SPA procedures. There are 4 hot springs on Sao Miguel and all of them are different.
First of all it’s important to mention about the water in hot springs.
1. It smells. For somebody it even stinks.
2. It is full of iron, so don’t forget to take shower after it. Even if it is very good for skin, it feels terrible on hair and adds yellow colour on the skin:)
Poça da Dona Beija
This hot spring is absolutely the most visited and always crowded place but the most comfortable as well. It consists of few pools with different depth and different “features” which attract some particular audience. For example, my favorite pool was the deepest with 2 artificial waterfalls. Some pools are really shallow and full of kids, some are made in the shape of underwater sofas and they are usually occupied by a group of people – friends or family.
Average temperature in this hot spring is about 38-39C. Only one pool is colder because it has mixed water with the cold flow next to the springs.
Poça da Dona Beija is equipped with comfortable changing rooms with shower (with additional vending kind of payment for hot water in it) and toilets, souvenir shop (where you can also buy bath suits and towels). I would recommend to take a bottle of water with you because sitting in hot water for a long time might cause thirst and dizziness.
Poça da Dona Beija Lomba das Barracas s/n 9675-044 Furnas São Miguel, Açores Working hours: 07:00AM to 11:00PM (Last admission at 10:30PM) Entrance fee: 3€ for adults and 2,50€ for children up to 6 years old (ID required). One ticket corresponds to only one daily entrance. +1€ for safe box
This hot spring is my next favorite and the first one which we visited. It has slightly lower temperature than Dona Beija but still very warm. Meanwhile it consists of 2 parts and here is the main trick: go first to the upper part with the beautiful waterfall. Water there is colder but after it the main pool (which is so cozy and naturally looking!) will feel like you are literally in paradise.
Here you will meet less people but it is also quite small and you should always keep your eye on your belongings because there are no safe boxes. Instead of it there are covered shelves where everybody put their bags and clothes. Changing rooms are outside and quite cold (for me it was important because we visited Velha in the beginning of March) and shower is also cold. But it cannot make your pleasure less awesome, trust me. The place is really amazing. If Dona Beija is fully equipped and “civilized” version of hot spring, Velha is more natural, authentic, surrounded not by town and buildings but by trees, hills and jungles.
Caldeira Velha Estrada Regional da Lagoa do Fogo, Ribeira Grande, Sao Miguel 9600, Portugal Working hours: 9:00AM – 8:30PM Entrance fee: 0,5€
Terra Nostra is the most famous hot spring on the island. As for me it’s not that great because it is just one huge pool always full of people, annoying jumping kids and it looks in general very… artificial. However it always attracts people. Water in the pool is 36C. It is also equipped with some kind of changing rooms closer to the style of Caldeira Velha.
The best part of this hot spring is park around. It is real masterpiece of landscape design full of blooming flowers from all over the world, palm-trees and big magnificent trees. You can stop everywhere and enjoy fresh air sitting on the bench in the shadows of trees looking at the pond with big different fishes. It is very peaceful place if you go slightly further from the hot spring pool.
On the territory of the park there is a hotel with great SPA and wellness center (I approve personally, it was one of the best my experiences of massage).
Terra Nostra Park Rua Padre José Jacinto Botelho, 5,
9675-061 Furnas, S. Miguel – Açores, Portugal Working hours:
1st April to 30th September – 10 am to 7 pm
1st October to 31st January – 10 am to 5 pm
1st February to 31st March – 10 am to 5.30 pm Entrance fee:
Thermas Ferraria and SPA pool
And the last place is quite awkward for my taste because it is generally… just a pool but with warm ocean water. Big pool is located just next to the ocean that’s why most likely you will suffer from really strong gusts of wind which is not very warm. But the big advantage is that water here doesn’t have yellow color even if it still has the smell of eggs:)
For getting entrance bracelet you should go inside of the building of SPA center next to the pool.
But if you go there in summer and weather is already warm you have amazing opportunity to try those warm waters which are the part of the ocean. People say that it is not that warm as advertising says because ocean brings also really cold water with waves. But it is at least free of charge:) I cannot say anything about it because I stopped my experiments after trying the pool which is actually very nice but needs… maybe more nature around?
However I recommend you the restaurant in that SPA center next to eat. They serve nice lunches and even sword fish in the hands of master became really juicy and tasty.