Our time in Terceira would not have been remotely close to the experience it was, had it not been for the Banana Eco Camp, and its owners Sergey, Nina, and Bernado.
The camp is perfect for people of all ages and levels of camping experience. Its huts are so cozy and comfortable that you forget that you are camping. Staying in one of their 5 two-person huts is perfect for a solo traveler, a couple, or even a pair of friends.
For families looking to experience the Banana Eco Camp, there is a special two story cabin that is perfect for adults on the first floor, and a private treehouse-like sleeping area for kids on the second floor. This special hut comes with its own porch, table and hammock, and will soon have its own neighboring bathroom and kitchen.
If "roughing it" is more your speed, or if you simply would like to cut back on your budget even more, opt for a tent among the banana plants.
If you are a traveler that would like to keep to yourself and enjoy your alone time, that is entirely possible. If however, you are a traveler that would like to meet other travelers, experience a fully eco-friendly atmosphere, and stay in the most unique accommodation in the Azores, the Banana Eco Camp is an absolute must.
After four days at the camp, our neighbors from around the world became our friends, and the owners became like a family.
Located within walking distance from Angra do Heroismo's city center, the Banana Eco Camp is the only place you should consider staying when visiting Terceira.
Besides its beauty, perhaps the most awe inspiring thing about the island of Terceira is how inexpensive everything is, especially when it comes to food and drinks.
If you are staying at the Banana Eco Camp, you can easily get by on the all you can eat banana supply for breakfast. But, if you really want to indulge in a number of freshly baked pastries from the dozens of cafes in Angra do Heroismo, you will only need about .90 euro or 1 USD.
For lunch, you could opt for the main square in the city of Ponta Delgada, where you not only are in the center of the lively piaza, but can also choose from a variety of lunch options for a ridiculously cheap price.
Here is a sample of the menu at Alianca, the main cafe in the square (open since 1942.)
Pizza ...... 2 euro (2.35 USD)
Codfish Cakes ... ,60 euro (0.70 USD)
Cheeseburger ... 2,75 euro (3.25 USD)
Steak Sandwich ... 3 euro (3.50 USD)
For a larger, more local lunch, I highly suggest going to a local place that serves only a meal of the day. What they serve is what you get...
At Bota, right near the Banana Eco Camp, I was offered a large loaf of freshly baked bread, a salad, 3 potatoes, green beans, an extra large fish and shrimp soup, and a gigantic piece of straight-off-the-boat fried fish. All of this WITH A LARGE BEER came to a grand total of 6.50 euro (7.64 USD.)
Bottles of nice wine run on average of about 2 euro, and bottles of very nice wine (and I consider myself a wine snob) run a whopping 4.75 euro or 5.50 USD.
Or... if you are staying at the Banana Eco Camp, buy your own piece of fish and vegetables from the local market, add a bottle of wine, and cook your own fancy dinner for about 5 USD/ person.
Bottom line... Food and drinks are very, very cheap in Terceira, and every bite comes straight from the island.
Terceira is filled with such beauty from end to end that there is always something new to see and explore. After four full days, I spent a total of 6Euro (7USD) on entertainment and activities.
Here is a breakdown of all the things that you can see and do on Terceira for little or no money,
Bull Fighting in the streets - We spent hours glued to the crazy locals that were voluntarily risking their lives to play tag with the 2000 lb bull. But not to worry, animal rights activists... the bulls are treated kindly, and not injured in the process.
In the city of Angra do Herisimo alone you can visit the churches, sit by the docks, swim in the marina, and explore of the vast history of the islands. A FULL days worth of entertainment for completely free.
The northern part of the island is a low budget traveler's dream. The natural pools in Biscoitos are way more beautiful and exciting than any beach you have likely ever been. Multiple days could be spent here in complete and utter bliss.
The mountain hikes, the walks in the forests with perfectly lined Japanese trees, and the cliff walks near Biscoitos are all completely free.
The Algar do Carvao, the volcano you can venture inside, is well worth the 7USD you will pay to explore the caves. There are two caves of interest, the Algar do Carvao, which is a must visit, and the Gruta do Carvao, which is an additional 3 Euro per pass.
Bottom line, if you are on a tight budget, you can spend four days in Terceira, and not miss out on a damn thing.
Breakdown of low budget accommodations
4 Nights = $70/Person
Varies depending on season. Two person cabins run about 35 USD. (About $17.50 per person/night based on duel occupancy.)
What to eat and drink in the Azores on a low budget.
1.5USD/Day = 6 USD/4 Days
Best case scenario, free. Worst case scenario, 3 USD. Average 1.5 USD.
10 USD/Day = 40 USD / 4 Days
Combined average of 10 USD / Day
10 USD / 4 Days
Four bottles of good wine OR about 20 mini bottles of Super Bock beer.
What to do in the Azores on a low budget.
Beaches, Mountains, Churches, Monuments, Forests, etc.
$135 / Person
Based on a two person occupancy, and not including transportation to and from the airport (about 20 USD each way.)
Driveway up to the Banana Eco Camp
When choosing accommodations in the Azores on a moderate budget, there are many options. There are, however, few that are right in the center of the action.
There is so much to do in the Azores, that the last thing you will be doing is hanging around in your room.
Two accommodations that will not break the bank, and are right in the center of Ponta Delgada, are the aptly name, Hotel Ponta Delgada, and the hotel that is in the actual center of it all, Hotel Alcides.
Depending on the season, Hotel Ponta Delgada will set you back around $120 USD a night ($60 USD/person.) The hotel, however, has a swimming pool with hot tub, sauna, a cool bar, free breakfast, and rooms with a balcony view of the ocean. Located just a few minute walk from the city center and the ocean, Hotel Ponta Delgada is unmatched in terms of getting the most for your money.
The other option, Hotel Alcides will run you about $75/night (about $37.50/person.) In my opinion, there is not a hotel with a better location in all of Ponta Delgada. Hotel Alcides does not have any of the thrills that some of the other hotels may have, but if you are not planning on being in your room much (which you shouldn't be in the Azores) then Hotel Alcides is the top choice.
Attached to the hotel is the most famous restaurant in all of Ponta Delgada, and you can grab your morning cappucino right on your front porch. That is, of course, right after you enjoy your free breakfast buffett.
For breakfast, there is no shortage of cafes to choose from to get your morning coffee and pastry. Just about all of the hotels in the area, however, offer a free breakfast buffet until around 10:30 in the morning. But if you sleep in and miss the breakfast buffet, or if you simply want to try out some of the delicious coffee and pastry options, breakfast should not set you back more than $3 USD.
Ponta Delgada is littered with places to choose from to grab some lunch or dinner in the sun.
My suggestion is to try some of the local pizza. At Paleta Acoriana, you can choose from a number of local Azorean pizzas that are native to the culture. Try the local favorite, the Ilha Verde (Sao Miguel) which is mozzarella, pesto, local blood sausage and pineapple.
One pizza is more than enough for two people to share for lunch. The pizza, with an appetizer of local fish soup should cost around 17 euro, and that includes two beers. (About 8.50 USD/person.)
For dinner, staying on the main strip in Ponta Delgada will be a bit more expensive, but worth it for the scenery.
La Cantina is directly on the water, and has not only competitive prices, but also the freshest seafood around.
The fish delivery arrives promptly at 6:30 pm and if you order your sushi at 6:30, you will have the best sushi on the islands.
A 5 piece "Chef Special Fish of the Market Sushi" paired with a 4 piece assorted Bruchetta appetizer that is perfect for sharing, will cost about $11 (one beer included.)
There are plenty of things to do in Sao Miguel that do not involve money (see Azores on a Low Budget above.)
However, if you have a few extra dollars to spend, there are many activities you can do that cost money, but will not break the bank.
For example: A half day walking tour of Ribeira Funda's watermills and waterfalls, will only cost about $40 USD with Azores4Travel.
A boat activities tour with ANC Azores Holidays, will allow you to try out kayaks, stand-up paddle boarding, and snorkeling as you cruise around the beautiful southern coast of Sao Miguel. All while learning about the history of the island. Total cost: about $40 USD
If you trust your driving abilities, you can even rent a 4WD for the day and explore the island on your own. A daily rental costs about $30 USD.
Finally, make a visit to the beautiful hotel Azor, and check out their small, but lively casino. If you have a few extra bucks to spare, drop it on red at the roulette wheel, and earn some money while you're enjoying the beauty of the Portuguese island.
Total costs for accommodations on a moderate budget.
$150/Per Person (Total $300 USD)
Based on double occupancy.
Total costs for food and drinks on a moderate budget
$6 USD ($1.50/Day for a delicious cappuccino)
Make use of the free breakfast buffets , and grab yourself a cup of cappuccino once you begin your day.
$80 USD for 4 days (about $20 USD/per person, per day.)
A good lunch should not run more than about $8USD including a beer. A very decent dinner, including a drink, should not set you back more than about $12 USD/day.
$200 for 4 days
$200 for 4 days
Hiking Tour - $40 USD
Boat Activities Tour - $40 USD
4WD Rental - $30 USD
Casino Fun - $50 USD
(Excluding any travel)
About $436 USD (or $109/day per person.)
Based on double occupancy.
When in the Azores, it would be a sin to leave before sepnding at least a few nights in luxury.
If you choose to spend your nights of luxury in Ponta Delgada, Hotel Azor is the only way to go.
However, there is so much to do in Ponta Delgada that you should not waste your money (or time) on a luxury resort.
Instead, head to the north of Sao Miguel and stay in either Santa Barbara Eco Beach Resort in Ribeira Grande, or Pedras do Mar Resort & Spa in Fenais da Luz.
Both peaceful, relaxing, and absolutely beautiful from head to toe, staying at either of these resorts is a vacation in and of itself.
With its own massive stretch of beach, a stunning infinity pool with built in lounge chairs, surfing lessons, brand new cabins, and a 5 star restaurant, Santa Monica Eco Beach Resort is one of the most relaxing, laid back resorts you will ever experience.
Pedras do Mar, though a bit more crowded than Santa Monica Eco Beach Resort, is equally as stunning. Set on a cliff high above the Atlantic Ocean, Pedras do Mar is basically on an island of its own.
With its own paths to natural pools, a unique infinity pool that is designed for ultimate relaxation, a spa, tennis court, and a top of the line restaurant, Pedras do Mar Resort and Spa is a bit pricey, but well worth the few nights you can spend there in complete bliss.
Whether you decide to stay at Hotel Azor in Ponta Delgada, Santa Barbara Eco Beach Resort, or Pedras do Mar Resort & Spa, you will be faced with a more than satisfying breakfast that will be just as good, or better than any cafe or restaurant around.
For lunch options, try heading to one of the beach areas, preferably the downtown section of Ribeira Grande.
The Tuka Tula bar is a prime location right on the beach and within walking distance from Santa Barbara Eco Beach Resort. It has live entertainment, a great food selection, and some pretty amazing drinks, though the service is slow, and may leave a little something to be desired. But for dinner, you are foolish if you leave either resort. The melas at both Santa Barbara Eco Beach Resort, and Pedras do Mar Resort and Spa were the best meals we had throughout all of the Azores.
A proper dinner at either of these resorts will run you about 25 Euro for bread, soup and your main course. Add a shared bottle of nice wine and a dessert, and you will be paying about 40 Euro per person for dinner, and about 20 Euro per person for each lunch.
Money well spent at these luxurious establishments.
While there are numerous activities to do in the Azores that will not cost a penny, there are some experiences that you should consider paying for.
Perhaps the best experience for us during our stay in the Azores was hiring a tour guide to show us around for the day. We opted for the four hour tour of the town of Furnas.
For about 60 euro, we saw everything that the beautiful city had to offer.
With a company like Azores Naturalist you can book a three hour whale watching tour for about 60 euro or you can swim with dolphins for three hours for about 70 euro.
Between swimming with dolphins, whale watching, and hiring a one day tour guide, you will be ready to spend a fourth day in luxury lounging by your infinity pool at Pedras do Mar Resort and Spa, or your own private beach at Santa Barbara Eco Beach Resort and Spa.
I recommend staying two nights at Pedras do Mar Resort and Spa, and two nights at Santa Barbara Eco Beach Resort (only about a 10 minute drive apart.)
About $175 USD/night ($87.50 / Person)
Prices vary depending on the season.
About $275 USD/night ($137.50 / Person)
Prices vary depending on season.
Breakfast buffets are free at the resorts and the best breakfast around.
About 20 USD / Day
Including a beverage.
About 50 USD / Day
Including a shared bottle of wine and a dessert.
With Azores Naturalist Tours.
With Azores Naturalist Tours
Guided tour of Furnas.
About $940 USD
Average of $235 USD / Day
four low budget, four moderate budget, and four luxury budget
About $1511 ($125 USD / Day)