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Faial is part of the central group of the Azores with a surface area of approximately 67 square miles (173 km2). Faial has about 15.000 inhabitants. The island is also known as Ilha Azul (Blue Island), due to the Hydrangeas that bloom during the summer months. Faial is hilly; the highest mountain, the Cabeço Gordo Caldera, is 1,043 metres high and the inner crater is 2 km wide and 500 metres deep. The deepest part of the crater is filled with a lake.

Along with other Azorean islands, Faial is of volcanic origin and is close to the tectonic divide between the European and American plates. Indeed, the island can be considered the westernmost point of Europe (the two islands west of Faial, Pico and Corvo, are actually already on the American plate). Relatively small in size the centre of the island is dominated by Cabeço Gordo and its Caldeira. Between 1957/1958 the Volcano dos Capelinhos, located in west of the island, erupted for more than one year. Because of this eruption the island of Faial increased by 2,4 sq km

horta faial

Horta, seat of the only municipality in Faial, is one of the liveliest, and most eye-catching town of the Azores. It provides wonderful views of the island of Pico, and sometimes São Jorge. It contains a great richness of architecture illustrated in its buildings and monuments. The marina is generally filled with colourful yachts which stop here during their voyage across the North Atlantic. The sea wall is of special interest as it is covered with hundreds of paintings and messages left by the sea-travellers who call in at the port. This creates a lively atmosphere characteristic to Horta.

Up until a few years ago you could count the yachts on the fingers of your hand and their arrival was an event. Now there are hundreds of yachts that make Horta their compulsory port of call for crossings of the Atlantic or the vertex of a triangle that ends on the coasts of America or Europe. Famous names in yachting (such as Joshua Slocum, the first lone navigator to sail round the world, Tabarly, Sir Francis Chichester, Malinovsky and Fougeron) have anchored their boats in the blue waters of the port on their historic voyages. And Horta has been the port of arrival or call for international regattas.

The southern coast is a delightful panorama. Varadouro, the southern spa region, is dominated by an attractive bay and the black rock cliffs of the Castelo Branco (Mouro). The Varadouro spa, and its hypersaline waters at a temperature of 35.5ºC (96ºF) are available to beachgoers who travel to ocean-carved pools for refreshment. Castelo Branco and Feteria highlight the rough coast and pasturelands near the city of Horta. Lajinha and Ponta Furada is an area of caves and strange lava arches formed during the creation of the island.

The interior landscape is different. On Monte Carneiro (overlooking the city) there is a point from which excellent views are available, in particular the Vale dos Flamengos on account of its plantations, flowers and cottages. Other places of interest are edged by hydrangea and rustic forests to places of great interest: Largo Jaime de Melo, Riberia do Cabo, Riberia Funda, etc.

The sea and nautical sports are attractions of Faial for those who want holidays that are lived with intensity. Horta bay and the Faial-Pico channel are privileged areas for practising sailing, windsurfing and rowing. The indented coasts, the volcanic bottoms and the wealth of flora and fauna provide divers with hours of pleasure. But it is yachting that best defines its vocation as an island that lives for the sea.

Faial Highlights

Villages and Culture

  • Horta, main capital and attractive marine port: Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceicao, Palacio do Colegio, Igreja Matriz do Santissimo Salvador, Colegio dos Jesuitas, Museu da Horta, Covento de Sao Francisco , Monte Carneiro, Forte de Santa Cruz, Peter Sport Café, Museu de Scrimshaw
  • Feteira: Costa da Feteira, Igreja do Divino Espirito Santo, the imperios
  • Varadouro: small thermal bath, Capela da Senhora das Dores, Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Saude, nature pools
  • Flamengos: Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Luz, Botanical garden.
faial by night Capelinhos Volcano


  • Caldeira – in the center of the island lies an enormous crater with 6560 feet (2 km) diameter and 1300 feet (400 m) deep. This area is a protected natural area
  • Cabecao Gordo – Highest point of Faial with 3400 feet (1040 meters).
  • Ponta dos Capilinhos – the newest area of the island caused by the eruption of the vulcano, with contrasting black lava fields near the blue ocean. In the “Capelinhos” Museum (NUCLEO MUSEOLOGICO DOS CAPELINHOS), near the area in the town of Capelo, this historical event is presented.
  • Parque Florestal do Capelo: park
  • Mirante da Estrada da Caldeira: nice viewpoint near Flamengos with a view over Flamengos Valley.
  • Baia da Ribeira das Cabras: nice black sand beach
  • Praia do Almoxarife – sand and stone beach with a campground.
    Week of the Sea
horta faial
Every year, from the first to the second Sunday in August, Horta's is home to the week of the sea. The port is full of sailing ships with their colourful sails and flags. The town is dominated by the happy music of bands and groups of stringed instruments, the songs and dances of folk music groups, the animation of a charity sale, art and handicraft exhibitions. The festival is dedicated to the sea, and on its waters there is a regatta in the Faial-Pico channel. Besides the regatta there are competitions of sailing, windsurfing, swimming and fishing, and aquatic games for youngsters. 

© Azoresweb 2006