Nestled on the northern slope of the Água de Pau Massif volcano are the Caldeira Velha hot springs. Surrounded by massive ferns and towering trees, a visit to the springs feel like you've transported yourself to Jurassic Park.
Located a quick 25-minute drive outside of Ponta Delgada, Caldeira Velha is not a site to miss. Costing €8 for entry into the park and admittance into the hot springs, it feels as if you've been whisked away to another place and time.
The springs offer two main bathing pools — a larger upper terrace pool that is fed by iron-rich warm water, and a second lower terrace pool that is significantly warmer. A spring feeds water from the upper to lower terrace while passing over a pool of super heated thermal vents.
These vents are accessible, but be warned: you should not enter them unless you want to know what it feels like to literally be a lobster.
Unlike other hot springs that we've been to, Caldeira Velha feels more unique and raw, in a way. Whereas other springs generally filter their water, Caldeira Velha is all natural heated mountain water. As such, there is some amount of dirt and plant matter floating in the water; at the same time, the water feels amazingly mineral rich against your skin, and it has a stunning green sheen.
We visited Caldeira Velha in December, and it was perfect. While there were a handful of people there, it never felt too crowded. The colder rainy atmosphere also contrasted ideally with the warmth of the springs. In the summer, I'm sure the springs' surroundings are even more verdant, but you should expect a larger number of visitors.
The springs also offer marked hikes in the surrounding areas; unfortunately, we didn't have time to take these, but I can only imagine how beautiful they must have been based on the general atmosphere of the trailheads.
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