When it comes to wild swimming in The Azores, it’s safe to say you’re spoilt for choice. The island group’s main landmass Sao Miguel alone offers everything from river dips and natural waterfall pools to sea swimming and splashing about in its world-famous lakes.
Looking down on the twin lakes of Sete Cidades from one of the many miradouros on Sao Miguel offers you an incomparable view. If the mist lifts enough, you’ll be presented with a vista of Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul, distinctly different in their coloration from above.
Doing exactly this, I wondered how many people let their thoughts drift to taking a dip in one of these magical lakes. A step further again, I bet the annual swim count for Lagoa Verde is probably in the tens as opposed to the hundreds. This need not be the case, however, as it’s a great place to swim surrounded by the forested slopes of the towering volcanoes.
And there’s a really easy place to access the water too – a small natural beach at the head of the lake that will instantly scream “launching point” to anyone au fait with wild swimming. It’s not hard to find, because it is situated exactly at the point where the wide gravel path ends and only intrepid walkers continue on.
I hadn’t intended to swim, so wasn’t already wearing my swimsuit and headed off into the dense foliage to get changed. At this point in May, there was nobody else about to worry for my modesty and the Jurassic Park style plants provided the perfect changing room.
During my time on Sao Miguel, I learned it’s best to pop a bikini on at the beginning of each day, as there are so many places to swim. I generally consider a double-dip day something of a special occasion, but in The Azores, I regularly swam in three different places on the same day. I dried off in the sun between dips, avoiding the need for too much awkward changing.
Once in my swimsuit, I returned to the side of the lake and left my bag and towel on the handily-located picnic benches close by. The sandy beach made access to the water easy and it gets deep enough to swim properly fairly quickly. The water was calm and not at all cold, as I swam about taking in the views from the lake. It was pretty perfect to look up at the mist-shrouded peaks and all the untamed beauty of the surrounding nature.
After drying off and popping my shorts and T-shirt back on, we completed our circumnavigation of the lake via the wilder section of the path. We returned to the hire car, which was parked at the conveniently-located car park where the wide path begins and set off in search of cake. As every wild swimmer knows, this is the best way to recover after a dip and we didn’t have to go far to find Casa de Cha O Poejo and a slice of sticky lemon cake.
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