For cannabis enthusiasts who cherish the tranquility of raw nature above all else, The Azores can make for a peaceful, inspirational and truly relaxing respite in summer. Located smack in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, The Azores is today a collection of nine islands and six small towns that were uninhabited until 1433 when a hearty group of Portuguese sailors decided to settle near what is now Santa Maria, which is about 850 miles west of Lisbon and 2,500 miles east of New York City.
This remote island archipelago that makes up The Azores is meant for the adventurous traveler, as these mostly active volcanic mountains are packed with breathtakingly beautiful scenery. In one day (and with a rental car), visitors can experience everything from windswept sandy beaches to pristine inland crater-made lakes to wonderful waterfalls spilling into swimmable ponds.
Perhaps that’s because “going to The Azores” is really an escape from ordinary life. These tiny island towns in the middle of the great big blue ocean are not into the Euro party scene like the Spanish, French, Portuguese or even African coasts. This is a place where farming and fishing are king. Although the weather here is mostly mild, there can be days upon days of fog and soaking rain even in the summer months.
This back-to-nature quality is probably what makes Azoreans hearty folk who prefer family-friendly activities such as long hikes, boat rides, slow cooking, even slower eating (at hours-long meals paired with local wines) and just enjoying life naturally. This slowing down effect—plus Portugal’s cannabis decriminalization laws—makes The Azores a super chill place to truly get away from it all while medicating.
—The Azores is the only region in Europe where tea is still cultivated, so don’t miss visiting the island’s several “tea estates” dating from the 1800s. Locals welcome visitors to tour their farm and cultivation facilities of famous Azorean organic black, green and orange pekoe teas.
—Because The Azores are located atop the “triple junction” of three tectonic plates (North American, Eurasian and African) and are still actively volcanic, the islands are known for their steaming geothermal geysers and mineral-filled hot spring waters.
If You Go
The Azores is an “autonomous region” of Portugal, which decriminalized all drugs (only if you are carrying less than a 10-day supply) including cannabis to a misdemeanor. So, smoking cannabis anywhere in Portugal and its outlying colonies such as The Azores is quite common and does not alarm locals. The best thing to do on any trip to a European country is to find and vet a cannabis-loving local before you leave. If you did not prepare ahead, then politely ask a 20- or 30-something Azorean where you can find cannabis (they will know what you mean but it is locally known as erva). Just remember to smoke discreetly although European joints (called spliffs) are usually packed with tobacco as well as cannabis flowers. If you want to make certain you have access to THC or CBD on your trip to the middle of The Atlantic, try this travel trick. Buy an inexpensive vaping pen (in case it gets confiscated). Separate the vape and the oil cartridge in your luggage so they are not in the same bag. Also make certain the cartridge is not in a package and has no logo or markings on it.
Time to Go: July
Weather: High 60s, low 70s with some rainfall
Budget: $$$ (three out of five)