The Road Less Traveled
2331 N Elston Court
Chicago, IL 60614
June 28 - July 12, 2020
July 15 - July 29, 2020
Join us on a 15-day teen SCUBA trip and adventure program on São Miguel Island in the Azores, Europe's best kept secret! Experience a meal cooked from the heat of a volcano, explore the shoreline by sea kayak, observe whales, soak in hot springs, watch the sun rise over Vista do Rei, and take in the natural wonders of the green and blue lakes that lie within the crater of the volcano. Explore local markets, taste fresh Portuguese cuisine, visit nearby farms, and see local art. Earn entry-level PADI Scuba Certification or build on already existing skills, and dive into the underwater wilderness with the chance to see dolphins, blue whales, manta rays, and more!
My diving skills really improved on this trip. My buoyancy and overall confidence as a diver were influenced greatly by the instructors and the experiences that they offered us." -2019 RLT Alum
Keep scrolling to learn more about this scuba diving and adventure program in Azores!
The Azores are an ideal ecosystem and home to more than 20 different types of cetaceans including majestic whales and friendly dolphins. Spend time at sea exploring the magical Atlantic waters and watching these animals dance in their natural playground.
#2 Ilheu de Vila Franca do Campo
Spend the day on a wildlife tour learning about whales, dolphins, turtles, fish, and other marine life along the coast and the Princess Ring Islet of Vila Franco do Campo.
#3 Setes Cidades
Likely the most iconic site in São Miguel is the Sete Cidades volcano crater. We will paddle the two lakes of the crater that are appropriately named for the colors they reflect: Lagoa Azul for the sky and Lagoa Verde for the ground.
#4 PADI Scuba Diving
The Azores hold spectacular underwater landscapes and the nutrient rich water supports large clouds of krill, dolphins, blue whales, thornback and manta rays, Jack, Tuna, Marlin, slipper lobsters and more. It's no wonder the Azores are often referred to as "the last hidden treasure of Europe."
#5 Miradouro da Boca do Inferno
Hike above the crater that holds Lagoa Azul to one of the most breathtaking views on the island. By the end of the trail you’ll have sweeping views of at least four multicolored lakes that fill the volcano crater below. If this isn’t the best view on the island, we don’t know what is!
#6 Moisteros Beach – Swimming
Spend the day on this black sand beach with views of lava rock statues and cool ocean waters.
#7 Lagoa do Fogo
Lagoa do Fogo is known as the most beautiful lagoon in the Azores. Explore by foot as we hike the 8-mile trail within this unique nature reserve. Experience the views of Vila Franca do Campo and Ribeira da Praia and end on the shores of Lagoa do Fogo.
#8 Caldeira Velha Hot Springs
Spend the day surrounded by lush green forest as you take a dip in the naturally heated springs of Caldeira Velha. The deep green trees and cool waters will make you feel like you've transported to the jungle!
#9 Parque Terra Nostra
One of the most peaceful places to visit on the island, Parque Terra Nostra is home to one of Europe's most beautiful botanic gardens. The park contains foot paths through dense woods, streams, lakes, and thermal pools as you pass 200 year old gardens of palms, ferns, hydrangeas and more.
Follow a river and cross a footbridge through farmland into the forest to get to this dreamlike waterfall lost in the rainforest.
The Azores archipelago provides a perfect habitat for Rays and other large fish that seek the nutrients pushed up by the warmer currents. If we're lucky, we spot one of the species of Rays that frequent the waters.
PADI Scuba: Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Enriched Air Specialty, or Rescue Diver. *See "Need to Know" section below for more information regarding PADI courses.
Paddle: Kayak or Stand Up Paddle Board in Sete Cidades
Swim/Snorkel: Praia de Santa Barbara, Moisteros black sand beach, Ilheu de Vila Campo, Lagoa das Empadadas
Hike: Miradouro da Boca do Inferno, Lagoa do Fogo, Lagoa das Empadadas
Whale Watching: Ilheu de Vila Franco do Campo
Hot Springs: Caldeira Velha, Caldeiras das Furnas
Explore: Miradouro da Ponta do Escalvado
Surf: Santa Barbara Beach
9 - 12
We stay in a private home. Bedrooms will be divided by gender and participants will sleep slumber party style – in sleeping bags, rotating available beds nightly. Showers are available; however, we shower every three to four days to conserve resources and support sustainability. Following time in the ocean, participants will be swimming and rinsing off daily. Bathrooms are flush toilets.
New York, NY (JFK)
A leader escorted round-trip flight will be available (but not required) for those travelers who wish to fly with a leader out of New York, NY (JFK).
Arrive at JFK International Airport and board our escorted flight to São Miguel, Azores.
Kayak or SUP at Caldeira da Sete Cidades where the green lake (Lagoa Verde) and the blue lake (Lagoa Azul) are separated only by a narrow land bridge.
Those new to diving will learn the fundamentals. Anyone with diving experience will learn new skills from top PADI instructors. When not diving, we'll be exploring the varied food options the island has to offer, relaxing on the beach or hiking to any of the beautiful island lakes.
We'll hike Lagoa do Fogo and explore this huge blue lake that was created during an eruption in 1563. This protected nature reserve is encompassed by tall mountains and white sand beaches with rich vegetation. After our hike we'll head to Caldeira Velha Hot Springs to relax in the warm natural waters.
Visit Plantacoes de Cha Gorreana, Europe’s oldest tea plantation operated by a single family since 1883, and the Arquipélago, a modern Contemporary Arts Center located in Ribeira Grande, the second largest town on the island.
Scuba dive at one of the many amazing dive spots around the island, such as Fontes Hidrotermais, where it's possible to observe fumaroles, which release air bubbles that form a kind of curtain. Soak in Ponta da Ferraria Hot Springs, a beautiful cove of hot springs surrounded by lava rock cliffs.
At Caldeiras das Furnas, we'll learn how Portuguese stew is cooked in pots that are dipped into the naturally boiling water of the caldeiras (hot springs) and then buried and left for several hours. After swimming in the thermal swimming pool and exploring Parque Terra Nostra, we'll head to the famous Bolos Levedos Rosa Quental for lunch and to fill up on their delicious pastries.
Ancoras do Ilheu dive site provides an opportunity to see many sunken anchors and lots of wildlife such as moray eels and rays. Hike the Ribeira do Faial da Terra to Salto do Prego, a beautiful waterfall.
We'll complete our final two dives of the program either off the shores of São Miguel or by boat. After we surface from our dives, we'll hike on Serra Devassa trail and take in the mountain and sea views as we pass beautiful lagoons, forests, and many types of flora and fauna. We will explore the hidden lakes in Lagoa das Empadadas and the view at Miradouro da Boca do Inferno
Tour the 100 year old Pineapple Plantation and learn the history of pineapples on the island. Spend the afternoon exploring the charming town of Vila Franca do Campo.
We'll head out on a guided whale watching tour and end up on Princess Ring Islet to swim, snorkel, and relax on this small unique island.
Spend our last full day together on the sand of Santa Barbara beach. Surf, snorkel, or just relax. That evening, we'll celebrate our adventure with a final feast.
We say our final farewells and return to New York on the escorted flight.
Students enrolled are required to complete the PADI e-Learning course for their certification level before the first day of the trip. This separate fee is paid directly to PADI and allows for more time underwater diving! Courses will be completed on the island with the confined and open water dives and a skills review. Prices for each course are listed below.
The Road Less Traveled does not require any vaccinations or immunizations to travel with us, other than an up-to-date tetanus shot or booster (within the last nine years).
Please visit the CDC’s website to read more about recommended vaccinations for travel to Azores. The decision to get some, none, or all of the recommended vaccinations is a personal one, and should be discussed with your family doctor
For an emailed copy of this program’s day-to-day calendar, please call our office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST at 773-342-5200 and we’ll happily send you one!
It is imperative that no one make any travel arrangements until RLT provides instructions for specific arrival and departure time windows. Those details are typically released in mid-spring.
Families are individually responsible for booking their own airfare to get their student from home to the starting destination on the first day of the trip, and from the ending destination back home on the last day of the trip.
This program offers an optional leader-escorted flight for those families who are interested.
If you wish to have your participant fly directly into the starting location, please call the office for details.