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Not too blue in Faial

“If you drive non-stop along the primary road, you can complete the loop in about an hour.”

Faial is not a very big island, home to about 15,000 inhabitants, a large caldera at Cabeço Gordo (more on that in a separate post), a relatively new land mass called the Capelinhos, and if the name of one of the hiking trails is anything to go by, a series of 10 volcanoes on a route of 20km (it’ll take 7 hours to hike). To us, Faial is more green from the vegetation than blue, for we didn’t see quite that much blooming hydrangeas that help earn the island its nickname of the Blue Island…

Faial

Faial

Like Pico, micro-climate is everywhere but we largely got lucky and managed to stay ahead of the rain cloud most location we went, unless it happened to be raining heavily islandwide… I managed to get a bunch of postcards written up while waiting for the sky to clear, even as we lamented the loss of time to be out exploring. Or go on a marine excursion.

Horta is the main town on the island, where about half the population resides, and was constantly abuzzed with activities. It boasts a wonderful view of Mount Pico, which seemingly attract every cloud in the vicinity and draw them in like magnets. Seated between Ponta da Espalamaca and Monte da Guia, its marina is well sheltered and more importantly, we got amazing viewpoints from these spots that are postcard-picture perfect!

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Thanks to its strategic mid-Atlantic position, the Horta Marina is among the busiest in the world, with sailors and yachts(wo)men constantly coming and going. They stop by the famous Peter’s Café for a bite and a drink, paint the marina to tell the story of their origin and their journey, before setting sail again. It was also from Horta that we set off for a whale and dolphin watching excursion, on a day where the waves were riding at 2.5m or so high. We went out with Pedro Filipe at HortaCetáceos and his crew, including a lovely Frenchman called Marc who spent his summers at Faial and getting to know the marine visitors off its coast.

Whale spotting on choppy water was a lot harder than I had imagined, but even the strong wind determined to help keep the sprays low didn’t stop us from observing four sperm whales swimming and socialising. We waited to see if they would dive and wave their tails at us, but no such luck. We also came across friendly bottlenose that tried to approach to the zodiac, but we didn’t linger for long since a few of us were starting to look a little green around the gills.

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Choppy water + strong wind + moving animals + moving zodiac + sea splashes + verge of motion sickness = no photos. Plenty of fun though, until suddenly when everyone was too quiet and no longer busy scanning the horizon for more whales and dolphins. Definitely time to get back to dryland, in the skipper’s opinion.

Unlike Pico where “beaches” were set largely among volcanic rocks, we found a few sandy beaches in Faial, albeit with dark sand from million of years of waves grinding the rocks down to small particles. At Porto Pim, swim with caution however, as Portuguese man-of-war stalk the water! We must admit, after catching sight of several of them – dead – on the beach, we had not been too keen to get into the water anywhere else after that, even if the beaches over at Conceição and Almoxarife looked inviting.

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

Faial

We also thought Baia da Ribeira das Cabras perfect for surfing when we watched the waves forming and gliding their way to the shore. We found churches in unlikely places, isolated and away from residential areas that we wondered who attend the services there. We admired the cliffs and caves around Lajinha and pondered if we could go sea-kayaking in the area. We tried to find our way to Morro de Castelo Branco and was puzzled at how we seemed to have missed the exits when we didn’t see any junctions at all. We peered over at the collapsed Caldeira do Inferno which reminded us of Santorini, in a mini scale.

“So much to do, so little time” we lamented. In the blink of an eye, our week at the Azores was up. The aches that I picked up from Mount Pico had not even faded. We wished we have more time, time to let us go to the other islands of the archipelago and flirt more with nature, be it on land or in the sea.

We will be back. Nine islands, two down, seven to go. ;)

Faial: full photoset on Flickr



Category: Europe, Portugal, Travel

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2 scribbles & notes

  1. med says:

    Comfy looking place…quaint ;)

Scribble a note to med × Cancel reply


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