Photographer's Note

The photo (click to enlarge)
It shows some of the main subjects of the article below:
1. The only two oceanfront lodging possibilities in the visible shoreline, which is the prime location of the Azores Riviera:
- Pestana Bahia Praia beach hotel, built 1983;
- at the right border: the one and only B&B room, available since Jul 2015, the CK guesthouse facing the (not visible) islet of Vila Franca.
2. Tourist attraction Fire lake (Lagoa do Fogo).
3. The highest section of the east-west running Fogo ridge, averaging 800 m elevation, marked by the sea of clouds covering its northen slopes.
4. Part of the southern slopes of the Fogo Ridge.

=== Large hotels in the Azores: half crazy start 1983-89 now trumped.
The crazy story of the ghost hotel Monte Palace pales in comparison what is going on three decades later, with low cost flights finally reaching the Azores: the picture became almost totally crazy.

This article is about the crazy tourism developments in Sao Miguel island, in particular some of what recently surfaced in the north coast and is being served as top choices for Azores hotels.
I mean hotels near the shore such as Vale do Navio and even more so those with ocean frontage, such as Pedras do Mar resort.
Related articles:
- to get the article this introduction: Azores cloud "islands".
- to get the full extent of the ongoing craziness this appendix: Dramatic climate contast in same shoreline: Sao Miguel island, Azores; South California; Algarve. (transcription included)

=== Azores: Crazy Sao Miguel Tourism
1983-89: Half crazy start
The first two large hotels in the Azores:
- the first 1983, renamed 2016 to Pestana Bahia Praia, at one of the best locations
- unbelievable but true: the second, Monte Palace, 1989, at the top of the Sete Cidades cloud "island", 300 m higher than the lake or 560 m above sea level.

The ghost hotel paradox
As expected Monte Palace closed its doors months later, only to serve as "proof" that tourism in the Azores had no future.
Paradoxically what first became a major reason to delay the start of tourism in the Azores would become three decades later a major tourist attraction.
Simply check youtube azores vlogs: you'll have a hard time finding a video not featuring the ghost hotel as one of the highlights.

Almost totally crazy in the age of low cost flights
Azores Riviera
It matches almost exactly the shoreline with a view of the Vila Franca do Campo islet.
Exceptions to this rule include the area of Caloura Hotel at its western limit, and on its eastern part the Ponta Garça beaches as well as the few hundred meters coast of Povoação that are not 100+ meter high cliffs.
At its prime location, where the south slopes of the east-west oriented Fogo ridge meet the ocean, you'll find only two hotel resorts, both dating back to the 80ies of last century: Caloura and Pestana Bahia Praia.
As for other type of oceanfront lodging, the offer in recent years increased by ... two rooms.
- CK Guesthouse, with pool, August 2015:
- The Islet View, probably the smallest entire home type of B&B in the Azores. Shortly after being listed it's reported to be no longer available for the next years.

North shore and the two cloud "islands"
The story of Sao Miguel's ghost hotel built in 1983 pales in comparison with what would start 30 years later and is still unfolding, not only at Furnas and Sete Cidades but also at its north shore.
But this time it's doubtful whether the coming ghost hotels will also become tourist attractions: one is enough.
Imagine most seaside hotels in California located north of Santa Barbara or most Algarve hotels at its west coast.
This scenario, with hotels not in protected but rather at exposed windy locations suitable only for surfers is too grotesque to be even imagined.
Yet it became reality at the main island of the Azores: several large hotels were recently built in the windy exposed north shore and in the two cloud "islands".

Sao Miguel island, Azores: North v south reality goes beyond the unimaginable west v south California / Algarve scenario.
To get it see text below.

=== Dramatic climate contrast in same shoreline: Sao Miguel island, Azores: South California; Algarve
A comparison of the three coasts with the greatest climate contrasts in the world, which "coincidentally" include some of the mildest climates of the world:
- north shore v Riviera of Sao Miguel island (37º N);
- west v south shores in the Algarve (37º N) and California (34º N).

The same current (cold, flowing north to south along the west coast of North America) bathes all of California and the same goes for all of the Azores (a branch of the warm Gulf Stream).
That's why the diffence in water temperature between north and south in Sao Miguel is comparable to the difference in California between Guadalupe/Pismo beach (west coast) and Santa Barbara (south coast).
In both cases the main factor explaining the dramatic climate contrast are east-west mountain ridges, which create Rivieras protected from cold and strong winds while increasing differences in exposure to solar radiation.
A different story in the Algarve: two different ocean currents contribute more to the west-south contrast than the Monchique ridge.
That's why the west-south difference in water temperature is greater in the Algarve than in California or between any two locations in Sao Miguel (or anywhere in the Azores for that matter).
But for climate elements such as wind, precipitation, RH and sunshine the contrast between Riviera and north coast in Sao Miguel is greater than for the west-south contrast in the California and Algarve coasts.

Further reading: Articles from 1992 with related climate data, that I used (data updated) to illustrate a photo uploaded in 2006
The ultimate border

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