Up North We Go: Your Guide to Ribeira Grande

Hi everyone! This post in continuation of my full coverage of my trip to the Açores, the group of Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic. Check out my other posts about the Açores here

Just when I thought I had discovered almost everything on the island of São Miguel, my mother and uncle mentioned that we should visit the area Ribeira Grande. This area is on the northern coast, where the waves are notorious for being dangerous but also a thrill for surfers. As is the nature of island-exploring, I was excited to explore yet another beautiful area of São Miguel.

Açores - Ribeira Grande 13 I was more than happy to watch the water from afar and venture into the cute towns within Ribeira Grande. The main hub in Ribeira Grande is Matriz. It is characterised by a beautiful plaza with overarching trees, as well as stately buildings and some amazing churches. Açores - Ribeira Grande 12 Açores - Ribeira Grande 6 Matriz definitely has a bigger town feel, with a bustling main street as well as plenty of restaurants and bars. You can also tell it’s bigger by the traffic that exists here (because traffic is pretty much non-existent on the island)!

Açores - Ribeira Grande 8 Açores - Ribeira Grande 1 Ponte de Oito Arcos Matriz In the middle of downtown Matriz is the Ponte de Oito Arcos and a beautiful river running through the town by the plaza.

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Though the rain was on and off throughout the day, it was still great to explore. Interestingly enough I saw my first tour bus on the island of São Miguel. The Açores has long been kept a wonderful secret. However, my family there tells me that this is no longer the case. Tourism is booming, but it still was a bit of a shock to see tourists coming out of bus with their cameras, khaki shorts, and straw hats. In these very early stages of tourism, I know that it will be good for the island yet I’m always wary of tourists destroying the pureness and beauty of São Miguel. I just hope the government places limits on the inflow of people and also protects the island’s many natural wonders.

Açores - Ribeira Grande 9 Açores - Ribeira Grande 7 Heading down the main street my uncle recommended a cafe with some delicious treats. Up until this trip, I had not really appreciated Azorean cuisine. Since realising that the food here is amazing, I was eager to try all the desserts. Azorean chocolate is a new thing and wow, at this adorable cafe there were so many choices. However, I opted for a passion fruit ‘milkshake’ because it just looked so darn delicious. Azorean desserts are known for being sweet and over the top, and this milkshake is no exception.

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Though the northern coast is somewhat inconvenient to reach, it was definitely worth it. The climate and the feel up north is totally different, even on the same island! Ribeira Grande, I’ll be back for you soon.

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I love going up North! Next up: feeling crafty? Check out the town of Lagoa and its tradition of ceramics.

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