Faial is an island in the Azores archipelago, an autonomous region of Portugal. Faial is a tourist destination with a rich collection of historical, natural and modern attractions that attract yachts, cruise ships, tourist groups and the naturalists to the hills and streets of the island.
The visitor seeking sun will likely travel to the black sand beaches of Praia de Almoxarife, Conceição and Porto Pim, as well as the rock pools scattered along the coast. Varadouro is one such place, known for its warmer waters, micro-climate, summer cottages and complicated salt-water pools open to the ocean.
The capital Horta is the political and economic centre of the island and is famous for its sailing port. Horta is the sole municipality on the island. It is divided into 13 civil parishes (freguesias).
The island is 172 km². The distance to the neighbouring island of Pico is only around 6 km. The highest point is the 1043-m-high Cabeço Gordo in the Caldeira.
The port of Horta is an important port of call for Atlantic sailors.
With its nearest neighbours, Pico (east across the channel) and São Jorge (northeast across the channel), it forms an area commonly known as the Triângulo (English: Triangle). The island has also been referred to as the Ilha Azul (English: Blue Island), derived from the writings of Portuguese poet Raul Brandão, due to the large quantity of hydrangeas that bloom during the summer months.
It has very mild winters for its latitude, in part due to its location in the mid-Atlantic Ocean and infuence from the Gulf Stream, averaging 14 °C (57 °F) in its coldest month, February, and frosts never occur other than at high altitude. Summers are warm and relatively dry.
Temperatures are moderated year-round, never too hot or too cold, daily temperatures are also moderated, with only 5 °C (41 °F) difference between highs and lows. Average relative humidity remains high at around 80% and insolation is relatively low with around 1800–1900 hours of annual sunshine.
Precipitation is plentiful especially in the winter months, averaging 1,000 mm (39 in) annually. At higher altitudes (e.g. Cabeço Gordo) temperatures are cooler, precipitation and humidity are increasingly higher and fog is very common.
- 1 Aeroporto da Horta (Horta Airport, HOR IATA), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Azores Airlines flies from Lisbon (LIS IATA). SATA Air Açores flies from Corvo (CVU IATA), Flores (FLW IATA), Ponta Delgada (PDL IATA), and Terceira (TER IATA).
- A ferry runs several times a day from Pico (crossing time 30 minutes). There are also ferry connections from the islands of São Jorge and Terceira.
- 1 Horta Harbour. where many sailing vessels stop
- 2 Caldeira (Faial Caldera). The centre of Faial is occupied by a large crater, called "Caldeira". The road from the capital passes through Flamengos, the first village to be founded by European settlers. In its vicinity is the botanical garden. Also interesting is the trip along the "Ribeira dos Flamengos", a stream that crosses a very green valley. The descent into the crater is challenging and generally requires a local guide. You can observe the laurel forests that once covered the whole island. Once you have visited the Caldeira it is possible to descend in the direction of Praia Norte or in the area of Capelo dominated by the lunar landscapes of the coast. The 3-km path, called "covered by Levada", is easily accessible. An extension of it begins near an artificial lake and penetrates through a tunnel inside a basaltic volcano "Cabeço dos Trinta" and then flows directly into the crater. Another excursion is to "Cabeço Gordo", the highest point of the island (1043 m) Which offers a panoramic view of the Caldeira.
- 3 Capelinhos volcano. A volcanic eruption lasted for 13 months, from September 27, 1957 until October 24, 1958, which may have been two overlapping volcanic eruptions. While enlarging the land by 2.4 km², it spawned 300 seismic events, hurled ash 1 km, destroyed 300 houses in the parishes of Capelo and Praia do Norte and caused the evacuation of 2,000 people (many of whom emigrated to the US and Canada). The ruined lighthouse and Visitors Center (which lies along the cliff from the volcano) are a tourist destination. A trail network runs from the Visitors Center and lighthouse to the caldera summit.
- 4 Lighthouse of Ponta dos Capelinhos (Farol da Ponta dos Capelinhos). A former beacon/lighthouse on the coastal peninsula of Ponta dos Capelinhos and Costa Nau that was constructed in the late 19th century. It is a symbol on the island, for the eruption of Capelinhos volcano, which occurred in 1957-58.
- Scuba diving and whale watching tours are offered at Horta harbour (link) by several tour operators.
- The Semana do Mar (Week of the Sea) takes place at the beginning of August. It is a week-long celebration in Horta of Faial's link to the sea, celebrated in song, dance, exhibitions and kiosks selling different foods (of local and continental Portugal) and goods. During the day there are several sailing competitions and exhibits, while in the evening while many sample foods along the Avenida Marginal, others listen and/or dance to popular and/or traditional musical acts on one of several platforms devoted to bands, traditional and modern/contemporary musical artists.
The island, like some other Azorean islands, produces cheeses and other milk products, along with cow meat, and by-products notable in Portugal, and it has a rich cuisine that also includes local seafood.
- Peter Café Sport, Rua José Azevedo 9, is a historic eatery that has existed since 1918 and is popular with sailors on their way from the Caribbean to the European coasts. It is called "the most famous bar in the Atlantic".
The island of Pico, only 6 km away, offers the opportunity to climb the highest mountain in Portugal.