Horta, Azores, Portugal
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Even though the Azores were discovered by 15th-century Portuguese sailors on a quest to find the lost continent of Atlantis, it was Flemish nobleman Josse van Huerter who settled the island of Faial. He found a small bay that provided excellent shelter against the unpredictable winds and currents of the North Atlantic and called it Horta—a Portuguese phonetic version of his last name. Today the town of Horta still serves its original purpose as a port of call for every brave sailor who dares to cross the Atlantic Ocean, making its marina the fourth most visited in the world. Sailors from around the globe arrive here every day, filling the cosmopolitan spot with a seagoing spirit, a panoply of foreign languages and plenty of maritime legends. Overlooking the white architecture of Horta Bay is the volcanic cone of Caldeira, which is flanked by lush green slopes occasionally dotted with hydrangeas, the official flower of the Azores. The island's surrounding waters are the natural habitat of sperm whales, dolphins and an immense array of sea life, which you can see and even swim with, if you are brave enough.