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Octant Furnas (Detailed Review)

Octant Furnas (Detailed Review)

To reach Octant Furnas, we drove alongside a small stream surrounded by a well-maintained park featuring a stunning artificial waterfall and vibrant greenery in every direction. Hydrangeas, azaleas, and many colorful flowers were blooming all around us.

Upon stepping out of the car, we were enveloped by the scent of the flowers. The only sound was the gentle flow of steaming thermal water at the parking lot. Looking around, the encircling hills confirmed that we were indeed in the middle of a volcanic crater. We could do nothing else but marvel at the scenery and feel humbled by the majestic nature surrounding us before stepping inside the hotel.

Welcome to my review of Octant Furnas, in Furnas of Sao Miguel Island, in the Azores. They hosted me for two days in May 2024. But nobody told me what to write. These are my honest views and the true reflection of my experience. I did not accept any payment in exchange for any coverage.

Introducing Furnas

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

Furnas, a charming small town on São Miguel Island in the Azores archipelago, is uniquely situated in the middle of a volcanic crater. While all the islands were formed by volcanic activity, its presence is quite palpable here.

The high walls of the crater form an almost perfect circle, which you can see by simply standing in the middle of the town. Streams from fumaroles (“calderias”) are visible in many places, and the closer you get, the stronger the sulfur smell becomes.

Steaming hot thermal water oozes from small holes or wells, and perhaps surprisingly, the stream that flows through the town is also quite warm and pleasant all year round. This volcanic hot water fills the pools and baths of all local hotels, including Octant Furnas.

Last but not least, Furnas is also home to the famous cozido, a meat and vegetable stew that is slow-cooked in one of the fumaroles near Lake Furnas for at least 5-6 hours. This practice dates back centuries.

Introducing Octant Furnas

Octant Furnas is a 4-star luxury hotel nestled in the heart of the crater that indeed lived up to its status in my opinion. When evaluating a hotel of this caliber, I always look for the small details and the effort to anticipate our needs without us having to express them explicitly.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

Upon entering the hotel, we were greeted with a cup of herbal lemonade and a cold, wet towel to refresh ourselves. The atmosphere was calming and relaxing from the start, making it feel like a place where you could leave all your problems at the door.

After checking in, we went to our room. As a family of four, we stayed in two connecting double rooms on the upper floor. The queen size bed was comfortable and large enough should the kids choose to snuggle and sleep with me. We were all well-rested and full of energy after each night.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

The moment my 5 and 8-year-old children realized that the cute teddy bears on the beds were gifts for them, they immediately declared the hotel the best they have ever seen, their expressions filled with honesty and awe. If you are a parent like me I don’t need to tell you that those teddy bears joined all family photos here on out.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

The adults were well taken care of too, as we each received a lovely hat. These hats delighted many of the guests, as I saw several wearing them around the pool or while walking around town, just as we did.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

Our room overlooked a beautiful garden featuring palm trees, blooming flowers, a small pond with a charming bridge, and a small thermal water spring right below the window.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

The bathroom held even more surprises for the kids, as they found robes and slippers in their RIGHT size. But the highlight was the bathroom amenities featuring The Little Prince. Upon seeing these, they immediately declared the hotel the best in the world. Sometimes, pleasing kids is quite simple—they, just like adults, appreciate all thoughtful gestures.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

There is an adult-only room type at the hotel called the ‘Terrace Pool Rooms.’ Located on the ground floor, these rooms, as their name suggests, feature a small private swimming pool filled with warm water on their outdoor deck.

Facilities

Restaurant

Both my husband and I are passionate foodies, so our decision to stay at Octant Furnas was influenced by both its renowned thermal waters and the allure of A TERRA Restaurant.

We were particularly charmed by the outdoor seating area, adorned with plant decorations and a transparent roof, creating a delightful ambiance. The cute birds that flew by, pausing occasionally on the chairs’ backrests, added a whimsical touch and delighted all guests equally.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

Breakfast at Octant Furnas felt like a smorgasbord of local delicacies and international favorites. Loose tea from Azores’ very own tea plantation Gorreana, the indispensable Portuguese egg custard tart, the pastel de nata, cheese and ham from a local farm to name the few. But you could also find beloved pancakes, granola, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, fruits and vegetables of all sorts and more. As for drinks we could choose from fresh orange juice, an intriguing detox juice and a papaya smoothie.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

However, what intrigued us most was the dinner menu. I specifically opted for the vegan dish, vegetable chili with coriander rice. In my opinion a chef’s creativity can truly shines through a meatless dish. Preparing vegan recipes can be challenging. It requires a certain degree of imagination and innovation to make them interesting, flavorful, and tasty. The dish did not disappoint; it was absolutely delightful. Exactly what I wanted to experience, an array of vegetables in a rich sauce paired perfectly with the aromatic side dish. My husband deemed this meal even better than the swordfish he chose.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

For dessert, we ordered three treats: a dark chocolate cake with rum and pineapple, ‘choux pastry’ filled with passion fruit cream and accompanied by ice cream, and a tea-infused ‘crème brûlée’ sprinkled with homemade biscuit crumbs. Each dessert showcased unique pairings and was innovative in its own right, but the unanimous favorite among us was the crème brûlée.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

Spa and swimming pools

While a good hotel is nothing without a good restaurant, the next morning we decided to explore another essential part of the hotel—the spa and thermal swimming pool. I was unsure what to expect with kids and hot water, but it turned out to be a delightful surprise. Since kids tend to wake up early and are ready to conquer the world at the crack of dawn, we were the first to arrive at the swimming pool. As a result, we enjoyed all the facilities by ourselves.

I feel like mentioning that while from one side I understand the rule of allowing kids to the swimming pool only between 10 am and 1 pm. I thought it was the least convenient time of the day if you travel with kids.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

The temperature of the indoor swimming pool was comfortable. Yes, it was warm, but not too much. The kids loved it and we spent an hour trying all water features and swimming around. It was relaxing and peaceful. The water had a wonderful calming effect on the kids as well.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

The temperature of the outdoor pool felt a tad warmer. I think it would be perfect on a cloudy, cold day to soak in the warm water while feeling the cool breeze on your face.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

Next to the indoor swimming pool was the spa facilities that included a steam sauna, a dry sauna, and a laconium. At the top of it was the gym and the treatment area. I heard that the most popular spa treament is ‘Azores in Color’ which is an exfoliation ritual with Gorreana green tea, followed by a massage with camellia oil and express facial Source Marine by Thalgo.

Bar

The hotel had a bar area with cozy seatings and multiple board games to try. I thought the vinyl decoration with the guitar was a lovely touch. I wholeheartedly recommend one of their signature cocktail called Carry’s to try if you like sweet treats. It is a rhum-based cocktail with spices. Delicious.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

Garden

Octant Furnas is situated adjacent to the Garden of Quenturas, where the Quenturas spring flows, partially used to fill the hotel’s swimming pools after being slightly cooled of course. This well-maintained public garden features a small pond with a charming bridge over it. Abundant flowers line the walking paths, making it a delightful spot to visit.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

The hotel has also a private garden featuring an herbal garden, a bug hotel, and many native plants. It is the perfect backdrop for the restaurant and the outdoor swimming pool.

Activities to do nearby

Although São Miguel is a small island where you can drive from one side to the other in about an hour, I’ll highlight the activities you can enjoy around Furnas. There are surprisingly many things to see and do in this charming town.

Miradouro do Pico do Ferro

This lookout point was the most beautiful and easily accessible in the area, just a mere 10 minutes from Octant Furnas. From this vantage point, we had a panoramic view of Lake Furnas, the caldeiras, and the surrounding crater walls. It was breathtaking and a must-do if you are visiting Furnas in my opinion.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

Cozido Das Furnas

Let’s continue with a foodie favorite, Cozido Das Furnas. This traditional meat and vegetable stew is cooked in one of the many fumaroles near Lake Furnas by local restaurants and hotels like Octant Furnas. It’s a slow-cooked dish that takes at least 5-6 hours to prepare. If you opt for the cozido dinner at Octant Furnas, you can accompany the chef at 11 am to place your stew in one of the fumaroles.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

The stew typically includes a mix of meats from chicken to blood sausage, all of which become unbelievably tender and soft. The vegetables—cabbage, potatoes, carrots, and yams—are also soft and I could smell and taste the faint, distinctive aroma of volcanic steam on them. No additional seasonings are used; the flavors come purely from the natural juices of the ingredients melding together to create a rich and hearty flavor that is uniquely Azorean.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

Caldeiras do Furnas

We also visited the caldeiras, also known as the fumaroles, where we peeked into the empty holes used for cooking cozido. Deeper into the area, we observed the bubbling mud and the continuous streams of volcanic steam rising from all directions. At the entrance of the parking lot, we paid EUR 3 per adult, though admission is free for children up to 12 years old.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

Parque Grená

The entrance to Parque Grená is conveniently located right next to the fumaroles. Admission costs EUR 10 per person, with free entry for children up to 5 years old. The park features a lovely 3-mile trail through a small valley, making it suitable for children. If you visit during the summer, this park offers the perfect escape into the shade, along with stunning waterfalls and a beautiful lookout points overlooking the lake.

Mata Jardim José do Canto

The Mata Jardim José do Canto is located on the opposite side of the fumaroles. It’s a tranquil area featuring a lovely, old chapel called Nossa Senhora das Vitórias and the entrance to the trail leading to Salto do Rosal waterfall. Walking along the shore is free, but visiting any buildings or embarking on the trail to the waterfall requires a ticket, which costs EUR 10.

Terra Nostra Botanical Garden

We took a walk from Octant Furnas to the Terra Nostra Botanical Garden. You may think EUR 16 may be a hefty price to enter, but I can assure you it is worth the visit. Since you not only get to walk around a stunning garden with blooming flowers, grottos, waterfalls, hot springs, and more, but you get to bath in the yellow thermal waters.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

Both my kids and we as adults loved every corner of this enchanting garden. We followed the recommended trail as best as we could, but it took us almost 2 hours to explore what we set out to see.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

Cascata da Ribeira Quente

While this waterfall is located outside of Furnas, it’s just a 10-minute drive from Octant Furnas. We visited after a morning rain and saw multiple waterfalls right from the road. One huge waterfall was clearly visible, and another large one was nestled between two tunnels, prompting us to turn back and slow down to catch a glimpse. It was a wonderful sight. However, when we returned on a dry day, some of the waterfalls had dried up.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

Praia do Fogo

We followed the road after viewing the waterfalls all the way to its end, where we reached Ribeira Quente and Praia do Fogo. Since we visited in May, the beach was deserted. Noticing the large parking lot, I could imagine it being much busier in the summer. The beach was wide and quite long, with rugged cliffs bordering one side. The sand, a mix of black and white, was particularly fascinating to the girls. It was their first time seeing a black sand beach, and they loved playing in it.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

Spring is also the season when Portuguese Man-o-war populate the ocean. By summer they are usually gone. But for now, we opted not to swim, not only because of the cold water. Instead, we enjoyed the warm sand and gentle waves. It was tranquil and relaxing—a perfect afternoon at a beach so conveniently close to the hotel.

Photo credit: Emese Maczko, Eco Lodges Anywhere.

Best time to visit

The Azores archipelago enjoys a maritime subtropical climate, with temperatures that remain relatively constant year-round. Locals often note that rain and clouds are fleeting, quickly brought in and whisked away by the winds. Even when we encountered cloudy, drizzly weather in the mountains, we found sunshine at the shore.

That being said summer is indeed a peak season as it brings the highest temperatures and the least amount of rainfall.

We visited Furnas in May and enjoyed mostly pleasant and sunny weather. On the few occasions when it rained, we opted to visit the pools instead of going out.

One more reason while you should consider coming here during spring. Despite having resident whales who live here, the migratory whales all come between April and June. Hence, it is also the best time for whale watching.

How to get there

Since Sao Miguel is the largest island, most flights arrive at Ponta Delgada Airport. From the U.S. United Airlines and Sata Azores seems to be the only one servicing this airport, but there are more options from Europe from traditional to low-cost.

When you arrive to Ponta Delgada, you need to pick up your rental car before making way to TradiCampo. The island has little to no public transport and renting a car seems unavoidable. We recommend Azores Easy Rent and we had a hybrid EV to explore the island.

To reach Octant Furnas, follow the main road EN1-1A all the way to Furnas. It is an easy road, a straight highway that you can do in 50 minutes.

READ ONHow to rent a car in the Azores

Summary – Final thoughts

I hope my review captures the essence of our experience at Octant Furnas. We appreciated the attention to detail that made our stay exceptionally special. We were also impressed by the eco-friendly initiatives and sustainability efforts the hotel and its staff undertook, ensuring they provided not just comfort, but also something undeniably valuable.

Octant Furnas was the perfect place to unwind and relax, as well as explore the town and surrounding areas. Staying inside a volcanic crater is an extraordinary feeling. Seeing the beauty that locals have lived with for centuries is both unique and humbling. Their commitment to preserving old traditions and safeguarding this paradise is admirable.

A woman sitting on a mountain. Behind her is a lake.
Travel Writer | Website

Emese Maczko is a travel blogger behind Eco Lodges Anywhere. Having explored several destinations around Europe, the US, Indonesia, and Australia, and resided in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Luxembourg, Emese possesses a keen understanding of diverse cultures and an appreciation for the beauty of each destination she visits. She advocates for sustainable travel and ecotourism.