The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare on Sata Airlines, six nights' accommodations, and breakfast daily, from $709 per person—plus about $250 in taxes and fees.
When: Tuesday and Friday departures through June 15, 2009.
The Fine Print Does not include airport taxes and fuel surcharges of about $250 per person. Hotel taxes are included. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $320. Kids under 6 stay free and pay only for their airfare. U.S. citizens will need a valid passport for travel; a visa is not required. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: April 1, 2009.
Contact: Azores Express, 800/762-9995, sata.pt.
Why it's a deal: A recent Kayak search produced a $544 round-trip fare from Boston to Ponta Delgada in early January (Sata Airlines). The going rate at the Hotel Ponta Delgada is €67 ($87 at press time) per room per night, or $522 for a six-night stay. So if you booked this alone, you could expect to pay about $805. For $154 more, the tour operator throws in breakfast (a $132 value) and hotel taxes and gives you the convenience of one-stop shopping. We found it interesting that the Kayak search didn't produce any other nonstop flights to Ponta Delgada—and the alternative flights it did produce were twice the cost of the Sata Airlines flights.
Trip details: The trip begins with an overnight flight to Ponta Delgada Airport, which is on Sao Miguel, the largest, most tourist-friendly of the Azores islands.
Airport-hotel transfers aren't included; the five-minute cab ride from the airport to the hotel will cost about $10.
Your base for the six-night stay will be the Hotel Ponta Delgada. You will stay in a one of the hotel's 100 rooms (all with balconies) and can enjoy the bar and the outdoor swimming pool.
The hotel's central location in Ponta Delgada, the capital of SÃ£o Miguel, is perhaps its best selling point. Local sights include the Jose do Canto Garden, the Church of Sao Pedro, and the Carlos Machado Museum, which houses works of natural history and art.
One affordable way to get around is the Lagarta tourist trolley, which has tours based upon interests, such as gardens or historical sites, for about $6 each.
The high season for whale-watching may be the fall, but you also have a fighting chance of spotting blue whales, humpback whales, and orcas from February onwards. Dolphins live in Sáo Miguel's waters year-round.
Winter in the Azores lasts from December to March, and daytime storms are likely. But temperatures remain mild, in the 60s Fahrenheit.
For more ideas on what to do, visit the official tourism site for Portugal.