During the week, we found several good restaurants in Ponta Delgada and it was reasonably priced to eat out. We tended to stay away from the marina which is now home to many larger, busier eateries and instead wandered into town each evening. We came across two restaurants in particular that were excellent: Big 21 is slightly more expensive but certainly worth visiting at least once during a week long stay. The other restaurant, the Azores Grill, is a cook-your-own bbq restaurant that the children particularly enjoyed.
One of the main attractions of the Azores was to be able to see wild dolphins in their natural environment and to have the privilege of swimming alongside them. Our 11 year old has been dreaming of swimming with dolphins since she was first able to swim so to be able to make her dream come true was magical. Unfortunately, we had not been lucky enough to spot any whales on our first trip however we had seen a playful pod of bottlenose dolphins, the most popular breed in the Azores, swimming alongside the boat which escalated our excitement for our swimming experience. The company we went out with were very professional and extremely in tune with the sensitivity of these majestic animals and their natural habitat. Our marine biologist and guide, a lovely lady from Spain who is due to return to Spain next year to complete her studies, combined our expectations with compassion and a professional regard for the animals to ensure the experience was fantastic and the animals felt no anxiety. There are only a limited number of boat licenses issued on Sao Miguel as on other islands however sadly they are at saturation point so there is a risk that such activities may be limited in future to ensure the safety of guests and wellbeing of the animals. Unless the dolphins are feeling inquisitive, it is unlikely that dolphins will approach but they certainly swam close enough to us! As we were plunged into the water at the right moment, goggles and snorkels intact, several bottlenose dolphins dived and swam beneath us. Whilst this was incredibly hard to catch on film it will be etched in our memories for a very long time. There is a need here to be a strong swimmer as life jackets aren’t worn when in the water to ease movement. Fortunately, we all are however one lady was not comfortable so decided to stay in the boat.