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.
As I mentioned in my guide to Furnas, you have to visit one of the orange water facilities. While Poça da Dona Beija is a lovely experience, Terra Nostra is wonderfully unique as well. The estate was built in 1775 by the US Counsel on Sao Miguel island (a position that my dad would also be assigned a couple hundred years later!). The park features a large botanical garden, as well as a huge geothermal pool in the middle.
The volcanic hot springs of Furnas nourishes the Terra Nostra pool with temperatures between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius (95º-104º F). It’s the perfect temperature to relax in. A word of warning, the water is indeed orange, and so can stain light colored swimsuits! In fact, your skin will be a bit orange for a little bit until you can scrub off the orange residue. There are showers and changing rooms available onsite, so not to worry.
Around the edges you’ll find slightly cooler water, compared to the middle and by the water source. So, relax and find your most relaxing spot.
The Botanical Gardens
After or before swimming, you can explore the beautiful gardens of Terra Nostra. One of my personal favorite things to see on the island, there is a mass array of trees and flowers — over 2,000 types of trees to be exact!
Everyone seems to have a favorite spot in the gardens, and I am no exception. I particularly love one of two caves, which was the inspiration for an art project in college. I took a class called “Between Refuge and Horror: Underground Art,” and it really opened up my mind to looking deeper into nature and architecture.
From the Paleolithic Era to the present, caves and underground excavations have served humanity as refuge and accommodation, providing conditions favorable to life (air, water, constant temperature, defense works) and to the burial of the dead. With the growth of cities above ground, however, the underworld became increasingly associated with the dead and the realm of the dead.
Dark and mysterious, this cave is a refuge.
There is a river that flows through the garden, and so you’ll also find various ponds. The waters come alive with koi, and the surroundings are filled with ducks and swans. Could it get any more magical than this?
Another great spot is the moss area. The moss is as soft as a cloud, and you can run around jumping barefoot because the moss is that amazing.
This park is a photographer’s wonderland, as there is so much to see and explore. From blooming flowers, to exotic vines, and all the wildlife, you could stay here for hours. I too, felt the need to stay here forever. Being such a large place, you encounter less people than expected, and you can just enjoy the marvelous natural treasures of the world.
While this nature reserve is very prim and proper, why not check out Povoação, the more wild countryside of São Miguel?