Furnas a small volcanic region on the island of Sao Miguel is by far one of the most unusual and beautiful spots in all of the Azores. This is an ideal location to visit to experience the vast amounts of flora and fauna present in the region. The gardens, parks, hot springs and deep forested valleys makes this the perfect weekend retreat location.The vast amounts of flowers, trees and plans both endemic and native to the Azores is remarkable. Here you can explore the largest Camellia collection in all of Portugal at the Mata-Jardim Jose do Canto and the Terra Nostra garden with over 600 varieties to admire. This is just a small portion of the flora of the island.Here there are hundreds of varieties of trees that adorn the walkways both paved and dirt that take you through these enchanted gardens. This location has always been a favorite with European nobles in the 18th and 19th century for its supposed health properties in the hot springs and volcanic mineral pools. The Terra Nostra Garden is located in the heart of the small town of Furnas and is one of the main gardens on the island for tourists to visit. This is an enchanting 29 acre garden filled with so many plants its hard to imagine. Here everything seems to grow, which is strange since it is in an active volcanic region of the island.Here bubbling geysers are present throughout the small town and are used for thermal cooking, which is an ancient tradition here in the Azores. This garden has been extremely well maintained with endless rows of manicured bushes surrounded by majestic Japanese cedars and much more.This is an 18th century garden that has been well maintained with many unique fountains and grottos to explore. The garden has a pathway that goes through the various areas of the garden, with labels on many of the plants and trees explaining their origin and what type of plant they are.This is perfect for the nature lover who could spend days just exploring this vast garden. Here there are over 600 varieties of Camellias from all over the world that now grow and thrive here in the Azores. There are picnic sites and two unique hot springs that you can go and swim in for a minimal fee.This is a popular choice with locals and tourists and has been for centuries. The volcanic mineral water is nice and hot and is perfect to swim in and relax in its supposed mineral rich benefits. Many people with many ailments and pains come to this unique region from all over Europe just to bathe in its waters, hoping it will heal their sore bones etc. Many have found benefits rubbing the delicate volcanic mud or their skin as they float in this large volcanic pool. It is located in the middle of the garden in front of the hotel with the same name, Terra Nostra.
Furnas also has a beautiful lake which is located in the Furnas valley. Here you can find the Mata-Jardim Jose do Canto. This was the summer retreat for the wealthy Azorean landowner and botanist that was responsible for bring hundreds of plants and trees to the Azores. One of the most influential figures in Azorean history, Jose do Canto was a visionary who studied at a young age in Paris and fell in love with the many Victorian style gardens throughout France. After returning to his native island of Sao Miguel he had the vision of fostering the regions unique temperature and climate by adding various commercial and ornamental plants.Here in this enchanting forest and garden you can explore the wide variety of plants he managed to cultivate here in the Azores. This is a great weekend spot to come and explore this unique area and beautiful lake. There are picnic benches and many local restaurants with food to go if you want to come here for a picnic or just to relax. There is kayaking available on the small lake if you like with rentals available nearby. This is one of the most popular spots in the summertime for locals and tourists to come and relax by the lake while, basking in the Atlantic sunshine.