Picture this: You are visiting the Azores islands during the wintertime, and it is raining and quite windy. You are in your hotel thinking ‘What can I possibly do today with this weather?’. You definitely can’t go on a hike or swim in the ocean. Well, in that case, we have the perfect spot for you: Poça da Dona Beija, of course!
Known for its therapeutic benefits, this natural heaven is very popular among travelers and locals looking for a peaceful and relaxing moment. May it be sunny or rainy, you can never go wrong if you go to Dona Beija.
In this post, we will tell you all you need to know about Poça da Dona Beija, one of the best hot springs on São Miguel island.
What is Poça da Dona Beija
Geology & Volcanology
The naturally warm and iron-rich water inside the pools of Dona Beija comes from the Volcano of Furnas. It arrives to the pools at an average temperature of 39ºC (102ºF), although there is also a pool with 28ºC (82ºF).
The yellow thermal river is dividing the pools into two sides. This color is due to the presence of cyanobacteria that react to the iron oxidizing.
At the hot springs, thermal water is reknown to have many health benefits like increasing blood circulation, reducing stress and pain, and helping with skin problems such as acne. The iron water can also help with allergies, anemia, and parasitic diseases.
The clay that you can find on the pools’ walls has mineral properties suitable for pelotherapy. So, to sum up, Poça da Dona Beija is a great place to take care of your physical and mental health, in addition to simply enjoying being in this little paradise in the middle of the Atlantic.
History & Geography
The story of Poça da Dona Beija goes back to 1988. At this time, a priest used the spring daily for its benefic properties. Then, the local population began to use it but there was not enough space for everyone and it was not really safe as the thermal waters were under a cave. So in 2007, the government closed the space to the public.
It was only in 2010 that the pools that we know today were created. Indeed, after a public contest, the management of this spring went to a company called Criações Naturais Lda, who worked hard to provide the safe and beautiful space that is Poça da Dona Beija. November 29 marked the beginning of the fame of the hot springs and it kept on having improvements since then. In fact, in 2015, they built two more pools.
🧭 Recommended Experiences Check all Tours you can do in Furnas!
About the name. Well, it is not what you might think. It actually came out of a Brazilian soap opera with its main character called Dona Beija. The image of her swimming in a waterfall shown in the series gave the name to this romantic place.
Dona Beija is located in the county of Povoação, in the town of Furnas – the hot springs paradise. This is in the eastern part of São Miguel island, in the countryside.
Fauna & Flora
At the hot springs of Poça da Dona Beija, you can see plenty of greenery surrounding the pools. But the one plant that stands out the most is without any doubt the local Taro (‘inhame’, in Portuguese). The taro from Furnas is well-known across the island for its unique taste.
Did you know that iron-rich waters are used by locals to irrigate taro plantations? In fact, the mud is a true organic fertilizer for the roots.
What to do at Poça da Dona Beija
Relax in the warm waters
At Poça da Dona Beija, you can find 4 tanks filled with water naturally warmed by Furnas’ volcano. Each pool is different but the average temperature remains 39ºC (102ºF) in all of them. Here are the differences between the pools:
- Meditação. The first pool when you enter the complex is 130cm deep (4’3), this is the deepest pool of them all. There are two hot waterfalls flowing down the walls, ideal for a back massage if you can handle the heat.
- Convívio Termae. On the other side of the river, this pool is quite shallow, between 30 to 60 cm deep (12 to 24 inches). The depth varies due to an immersed bench all around the squared pool.
- Mística. Right across the former pool, Mística is certainly the most famous spring. It is particularly appreciated for its long curtain waterfall, creating a real natural outdoor sauna. This pool is 90cm deep (35 inches).
- Serena. With 80cm of depth (31 inches), this pool is by the end of the hot springs complex. Inside, you can find two small waterfalls coming out of the stone walls.
There is one last spring where you can swim at Poça da Dona Beija, but this one is quite colder than the other one. Indeed, with only 28ºC (82ºF), the Ribeira pool is located inside the stream that passes by the whole complex.
🧭 Recomended Tour Van Tour to Furnas. Know More!
Swimming in this fresher pool is a great way to cool off after the warm waters, especially on a hot day. It is about a meter deep (3.3 feet) and is a mix between fresh river water and warm geothermal water.
See the original hot spring
The source of the iron-rich water of Poça da Dona Beija is a small hot spring under the cave of Lomba das Barracas. Located near the stream, this spring provides heat to all the pools of the complex.
This is where it all began, where locals originally took a dip in. However, for safety reasons, it is forbidden to enter the cave or swim in the water due to the risk of rocks falling over.
Inside Poça da Dona Beija, you will also find a gift shop filled with handicrafts and souvenirs from the Azores islands. Let yourself be tempted by the handmade jewelry, the cute toys for kids, or also the typical postcards to send to your loved ones for instance.
Best time to visit Poça da Dona Beija
Naturally, the best time to go to the hot springs is when the air temperatures are colder. Even though it never gets really cold in the Azores, in the late fall, throughout winter, and at the beginning of spring, the temperatures are at their lowest – about 15ºC to 18ºC (59-64ºF).
Indeed, if you go in the summer, with temperatures over 20ºC, the warm waters are not so relaxing as you will get too hot quite fast. However, on a rainy and windy day, even in the summer, the hot springs feel very good.
Also, in the summertime, the island receives many tourists and the pools can get full. Note that there is a quota of people to be inside the complex at the same time. If it is full, then you will have to wait outside in line for people to get out so new visitors can enter. From October to May, there are not so many travelers and you can enjoy the place almost to yourself at some times.
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Best time of the day
If you are visiting during the high season (summertime), then the hot springs can get crowded real quick. You need to get there at the opening times as early as it opens to avoid the crowds.
However, if you want to fully enjoy the experience of Poça da Dona Beija, the best time to go is at night. This is one of the few hot springs that are open at night where you can experience another atmosphere with different light effects and see the stars. This is even more relaxing as air temperatures are usually lower at night.
Plan your visit to Poça da Dona Beija
How to get to Poça da Dona Beija
In order to get there, the easiest way is definitely to rent a car. You can also get a taxi of course but depending on where you are leaving, this can be quite expensive. Although there are a few buses going to Furnas, they take much longer than if you go by car as they stop at every village.
From Ponta Delgada, Furnas is a 40-minute drive. Once you enter the town, there are indications towards the hot springs and you will find a free parking lot at the entrance. Depending on what time you are going, the parking lot can be full and you will need to park in the street.
If you are traveling with kids or elder people
Poça da Dona Beija is a relaxing environment, where both locals and travelers seek peace and spend a good moment. Children are welcome inside the complex (kids under 6 years old even have a special price!), but they should not jump and splash everywhere. It is important to respect the peacefulness that people love about this place. Children must be under adult supervision at all times. Also, for the younger ones, it is forbidden to wear regular diapers, children must wear proper swim diapers.
Note that pregnant women and people with low blood pressure or any medical condition should consult a physician before their visit.
What to bring to Poça da Dona Beija
Obviously, if you are visiting Poça da Dona Beija, you should bring your swimming suit. About that, avoid white or very clear colored ones, because of the iron in the water, they can be stained orange.
Flip-flops are always good to have when you get out of the pool to avoid walking barefoot on the cold ground. A towel and a robe can be great to stay warm after swimming in the comfy waters.
Pricing & Operating Hours
The price to enter the hot springs and enjoy the pools is 8 euros for adults, and 6 euros for children up to 6 years old. The tickets can only be purchased at the entrance, and you can be inside the complex for 1.5 hours.
This price includes a basket to put your belongings in while you swim in the hot springs. Changing rooms and cold showers are also included in the price. You can rent a locker for an extra 2 euros with a security deposit of 20 euros, refundable when you exit the complex. It is also possible to rent a towel.
Regarding the operating hours, the complex is open from 8:30 am to 11 pm every day of the year. The last admission is at 10:15 pm and the pools must be left at 10:45 pm.
Where to eat near Poça da Dona Beija
If you need a place to eat near Dona Beija, click here. In this link, you will find the Top 10 restaurants on Tripadvisor.
Ferramentas e Aplicações Úteis
O tempo nos Açores é bastante imprevisível. Portanto, existe uma ferramenta muito útil que você deve usar antes de ir visitar qualquer lugar nas 9 ilhas: Spotazores. Graças a câmeras instaladas em vários pontos, você poderá ver as condições do tempo em tempo real antes de decidir para onde ir.
Where to Stay near Poça da Dona Beija
Pro Tips for Poça da Dona Beija
Staying in Furnas for a couple of days is a great idea. This way, you have more time to explore the region and more availability to visit the hot springs. You won’t need to worry about parking space and can decide to go later if you see a long waiting line.
As mentioned before, the water at Poça da Dona Beija can stain your swimwear and towel, so it is preferable to take dark clothing only. To avoid most of the decoloration, rinse your swimming suit in the showers before heading back home. Don’t let them dry without rinsing.
Also, avoid wearing jewelry at the pools. They also can turn another color because of the iron.
What to do around Poça da Dona Beija
Furnas is one of the locals’ favorite places to have a weekend getaway, and it is easy to understand why. First of all, it is the hot springs paradise, there is more than only Poça da Dona Beija. Then, the town is very picturesque, along with its beautiful lake. Let’s see what to do near the hot springs.
Around Furnas Lake
Next to the town of Furnas, the big lake of the same name is a good spot to discover unique sceneries. You can hike all around the lake and see many wonders like The chapel of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias, unique in its kind on the island, inserted in the José do Canto park, with plenty of plant species, and the waterfall Salto do Rosal.
On the other side of the lake is another park inside a forest: Grená! If you are brave enough to climb the 633 stairs, you will see a beautiful and very tall waterfall called Salto da Inglesa. Right at the entrance of the park is the popular area of Caldeiras, where you can witness the omnipresent volcanic activity in the Azores. Follow the path and you will discover fumaroles and boilers like you may have never seen before. This is the place where they cook our famous Cozido.
Eat a Cozido at a local restaurant
Cozido das Furnas is a local dish cooked with volcanic activity. Yes, we don’t use any electric machines or fire to cook the ingredients inside the big pots. Only the warm earth. If you go to Caldeiras along the lake by 12pm, you will see the pots being taken out of the ground by professionals.
Inside the pot are several kinds of meat (pork, beef, and chicken) and lots of vegetables (carrots, cabbage, yam, potato, and much more). In order to eat it, it is always better to book in advance at one of the restaurants in Furnas. Portions are quite big, but it is definitely an experience to have in São Miguel.
Terra Nostra Botanical Garden and Hot Springs
Another spring of warm iron-rich water is Terra Nostra park. There, in addition to hundreds of flora species – from exotic flowers to centenary trees – you will find the famous huge yellow pool, 2 smaller tanks with waterfalls, and one of the most prestigious hotels on the island.
You couldn’t go to the hot springs and not visit the beautiful town of Furnas. Even breathing the air of Furnas is special. Indeed, when you get close to the fumaroles inside the town, you will smell an air with a sulfur smell, similar to rotten eggs.
In the summertime, locals are selling corn cooked in natural boilers. Another specialty of Furnas is the local sweet bread called Bolo Lêvedo, sold at every café and souvenir shop. Also near the fumaroles are the springs of cold iron water that you can actually taste (spoiler alert, it is not the best water you will drink).
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Cultural Agenda in São Miguel Island
São Miguel island has a lot of cultural events to offer year-round. You can check the complete upcoming events list on the following link. View the Agenda!
How to get to São Miguel island
There are many different ways that travelers can get to São Miguel island by plane. The main entrance points are via Lisbon and Oporto (on the mainland), but there are already many direct routes.
The best way to find a flight that works for you is to use a flight search engine like eDreams or Skyscanner. As you may already know, these websites allow you to compare prices and schedules from multiple airlines all in one place.
Once you’ve found a flight that works for you, all you need to do is book it! And then, in just a few short hours, you’ll be on your way to one of the most beautiful archipelagos in the world.
Poça da Dona Beija should definitely be on your bucket list. If you want to relax during your holidays in the Azores, this is the place to be. In addition to the hot springs, don’t forget to visit the beautiful town of Furnas for the full experience.
Mendonça, L. (2017). Perguntas e Respostas sobre a História dos Açores. 2ª Edição, Letras Lavadas. Ponta Delgada
Forjaz, V., Ribeiro, L., Almeida, L., Pereira, N. e Rodrigues, J. (2019). Dos Vulcões dos Açores. 4ª Edição, Letras Lavadas. Ponta Delgada
Rodeia, C. e Rodrigues, J. A. (2013). Açores – ilhas de Sonho. (2013). Açores – ilhas de Sonho. 3ª Edição, Publiçor – Publicações e Publicidade, Lda. Ponta Delgada