Travelling in between islands
Flights in between islands can usually be booked pretty last minute even once you’re already here. Aside from the SATA website, you can visit one of the agencies at the Ponta Delgada airport or opposite the harbour in the city to do so. An advantage of getting a flight compared to taking the ferry is not only the shorter travel duration, but also the fact that you can leave your rented car at the airport and then easily just rent a new one once you arrive at your destination. Rental cars are generally not allowed to be taken onto ferries. This is not because the people from the island don’t trust the ferries, but simply because there’s no one available to help you out on the islands should something go wrong with your car. The car renting agencies usually only have an office on one of the islands.
Because the flights are so short, the planes don’t usually reach great heights. That means that you will be able to enjoy a great view of the islands from above.
I took this picture during a trip from Ponta Delgada to Terceira. You can read more about this trip here.
On the Azores, there are only a handful of car renting agencies due to the small size of the islands. They usually have their offices directly at the airport or in close proximity to it. If you are planning to rent a bigger car, such as a Van, Jeep, etc… we recommend that you book this as early as possible. These vehicles tend to be fairly expensive already when you book in advance, but the issue is that there is only a very limited number of them available. Big cars also tend to be a bit older compared to the usually modern compact cars.
If you are renting a car through an agency that does not have an office directly at the airport, there are two options. Either, you will be picked up by a shuttle, or you will be handed your car directly in the airport car park. If this is the case, you will have to be very punctual when returning your car to the airport at the end of your trip. This is because you will be asked to drop it off directly by the entrance, where you are only allowed to park for a couple of minutes. Otherwise, the police officers (who do usually tend to be very friendly) will send you away. Alternatively, you can pay to park in the proper car park, but you will have to carry these costs yourself.
Some more advice:
- When a plane arrives, the airport offices tend to be quite busy. If you are travelling with at least one other person, you can sidestep these long waiting times. While one of you is waiting for the luggage, the other can head out to the car rental agencies. On São Miguel for example, these can be found directly opposite the Arrivals, so you won’t be able to miss them. Just don’t forget to bring you ID, credit card, drivers license, and if applicable the second driver’s documents with you.
- Agencies will always try to sell you additional insurances, for example to reduce the retained amount. Think carefully before purchasing any. Usually, you will be getting an insurance for an insurance. Spread over 2 weeks, this can get very expensive. Our advice: drive carefully and rather spend your money on going whale watching a second time. Drive to a small restaurant and try to start conversations with the people there. This will make your holiday a lot better. You can read more about the important differences when driving on the Azores here.
- When renting a car, make sure that there is enough space to store all your luggage, but don’t get a car that’s too big. We have never actually needed a Jeep while visiting the Azores.
If you like the Azores, and would like to spend some time on São Miguel yourself, then we would be more than happy to receive you in our holiday home. Find out more here. If you have any questions, suggestions or specific requests for posts you can reach us via the contact details provided here.