Another full and beautiful day here in the Azores! The day began with a threatening storm that had been aggressive overnight. However, drizzling rain did not deter the fearless travelers on National Geographic Endurance from getting the most out of our day. We were heartily rewarded with what turned out to be gorgeous weather, including some sunshine and blue skies. Some guests went on a scenic tour of the island, and the rest of us went for a hike around the caldera on Graciosa. The hike was a beautiful trail slightly lower than the rim of the caldera with incredible overlooks, lush vegetation, and lots of singing chaffinches and European robins. After the walk, the bravest of the brave walked down 200 steps to the base of the caldera, which felt a bit like the dark, damp entrance to Hades. A small lake even looked like the river Styx with an abandoned rowboat.
After our morning activities, we were all treated to a visit to the local pastry shop. We got to sample a specialty of the island, Queijadas da Graciosa! They were deliciosa! Some of us may or may not have sampled more than one of the delicacies.
The afternoon was a nice chance for a Zodiac cruise around the Ilheu da Praia, a small islet that is a critical nesting habitat for Monteiro’s storm petrels. In 2016, they found 178 breeding pairs on the island. This is over half the global population!
Once we were back on the ship, we enjoyed visits from a few different schools of common dolphins, and we had the pleasure of learning lots of information from Jim Kelley’s presentation about the geology of the Azores archipelago. Following that, we enjoyed cocktail hour and recap. It’s been another great day here in the Azores, and we are all looking forward to tomorrow. What a time to be alive!