Moving eastward on our journey, the quiet and beautiful island of Graciosa is our next stop. While it's the second smallest of the nine islands, that doesn't mean it's any less impressive. In fact, some prefer to visit it because of what’s described as “a gorgeous place of peace.” Graciosa is the perfect place to find serenity.
Graciosa is Accessible by Boat and by Airplane
Graciosa is 3,594 miles from the east coast of the U.S. and is the home to approximately 4,391 residents. This beautiful island is accessible by air using its airport, which was inaugurated in 1980. Graciosa is also accessible by using the same ferry system that makes inter-island traveling possible the islands.
A Sight You Have to See
One of the qualities that make Graciosa so unique is that it's a place beckoning those who want to take their time to enjoy the beauty. Because the entire island is a feast for the eyes and soul, it isn't easy to point to one place that's more beautiful than the rest. As one person told me, every corner you turn in its crooked streets and roads, there's something beautiful to see."
Although a person can say everywhere you look on any of the Açores islands is an extraordinary sight, my commitment is to find something unique to see on each of the islands. You don't go far on this charming island before you spot your first windmill. During Graciosa's original settlement, there were Flemish settlers who added their windmill style to the island's beautiful landscape. In talking to a friend from Graciosa, I learned that this beautiful island had the distinction of being a very productive wheat producer. It would make sense that an island known for its successful wheat crops would also be one covered with windmills! These windmills are topped with red rooftops and found all over the island. Some have been restored to their original appearance, while others have been left to deteriorate. No matter how you find them, they're a charming sight worth seeing.
Eat, Drink and Be Happy
From talking to those from Graciosa, what the island doesn't have in the number of restaurants, it makes up for in the quality of those it has. I learned that restaurants on the island offer delicious food in settings that invite diners to enjoy every bite of their relaxing meal. Graciosa is also becoming known for its style of fortified wines. At any restaurant, you can enjoy a glass of local wine and a large variety of wines made in Portugal. Between the delicious food and the easy conversation with the friendly residents of this small island, any meal is an opportunity to make new friends!
An Experience Not to Be Missed.Since 2007, Graciosa has been UNESCO designated as a biosphere reserve with excellent reason. Between swimming and diving, Graciosa’s waters are a perfect experience that can’t be missed. But it isn’t just the ocean’s waters that are inviting, Graciosa is home to a therapeutic thermal spa known as the Termas do Carapacho. I was told that you couldn't talk about Graciosa and without talking about the healing waters Carapacho. At a temperature of 104°F, the thermal waters of Carapacho are mineral-rich and high in magnesium, chloride, and sodium. The modern thermal spa offers services in a natural atmosphere overlooking the ocean! I’ve been told that those who visit Carapacho have the added treat of also being able to swim in an ocean pool of heated thermal water.
Graciosa, as it turns out, lives up to its name of being "graceful." From its iconic windmills to its crystal clear waters, it gives its visitors a chance to enjoy a soothing pace yet one no less beautiful than found on larger Açores islands.