For such a small and unassuming island, Faial holds a surprisingly significant place in the history of the Atlantic. In the 17th & 18th Centuries, the island was a crucial resupply point for Portuguese ships trading in Brazilian gold and spices from the Far East. In the 19th Century, the main harbour town of Horta became the wealthy H.Q. for telegraph companies connecting Europe and USA, evolving into a 20th Century communications hub for the D-Day landing beaches during the battle of Normandy in 1944.
Nowadays, visitors are drawn to Faial by one of the Azores’ most arresting volcanic landscapes at Capelinhos, where a thirteen-month volcanic eruption in 1957 created 2km² of new land. Faial’s volcanic landscapes are easily explored via the island’s excellent walking trail network. From the grand Cabeco Gordo central caldera to the extinct Monte da Guia volcano, via the vineyards of Faja do Norte – there’s no better way of exploring Faial than on foot.
Cabeço do Canto – Faial PRC01 FAI
Circular // 2.6 km // Medium (for the uneven ground)
The Península do Cabeço has around 20 volcanic cones and this walk is an exploration of the volcanic cones of Cabeço Verde and Cabeço do Canto. There are great views towards the Capelinhos from Cabeço do Canto.
Caldeira – Faial PRC04 FAI
Circular // 6.8 km // Easy
Bang in the middle of the island, Faial’s central caldera dominates the landscape. The caldera rim is easily accessible via the mountain road that ends at the car park just below the rim, at nearly 1,000m. This circular route follows the rim for views into the green and 400m deep crater, and out to sea in all directions.
Caminhos Velhos – Faial PR07 FAI
Linear // 17.5 km // Hard
The Caminhos Velhos trail takes you all the way from sea level at the coast at Ribeirinha, to the top of the Caldera rim. It’s also easily walkable as a descent, starting with a transfer to the caldera and returning to the sea.
Dez Vulcões – Faial PR06 FAI
Linear // 19.3 km // Hard
The excellent-but-strenuous Ten Volcanoes walk starts at the Caldera rim, circling on the northern edge to reach a descending path on the west side. The trail then picks up a levada (water channel) skirting the volcano to the Cabeco dos Trinta cone. If you’re travelling with us then it’s possible to cut the walk short here – we can arrange our driver to pick you up and take you straight to the Capelinhos centre. If you’re continuing then the second half of the walk joins up several volcanic cones that lie in a line from Caldera to Capelinhos, which is where you’ll end up, some 20km from the start. We recommend taking this walk as a guided walk so that our personable local guides can talk with you about the volcanic landscape that you are travelling through, and bring it alive.
Archipelago Choice – Caldera to Capeco dos Trinta
Linear // 7.8 km // Medium
One of the most popular self-guided walks taken by our clients, this variation of the Dez Vulcaoes trail takes you from the road end at the Caldera, south around the rim to cross Faial’s summit – Miradouro do Cabeco Gordo – and then picks up the same descent and levada as the Dez Vulcaoes route. The route finishes at the Capego dos Trinta where our driver will be waiting for you. Most then choose to drive to the Capelinhos eruption site of 1958 to see the new land created by the eruption, and to view the interesting visitor centre sited within the ash of the eruption.
Entre Montes – Faial PRC08 FAI
Circular // 3.4 km // Easy (steep up/down though)
Monte da Guia guards the town of Horta and is the landform that’s also responsible for creating the bay of Porto Pim, and sheltering the area that’s now Faial’s harbour. This route climbs the mountain for views over Porto Pim Bay, towards Horta and over the centre of the island – and also over the hidden bay of the Reserva Natural das Caldeirinhas, formed by the collapsed volcanic cone. We’d join the route from Porto Pim, and would probably walk it in reverse – so anti-clockwise, walking first out to the Miradouro de Neptuno before ascending Monte da Guia. In this direction you’re then facing the bay and town as you return, before traversing the minor hill of Monte Queimadao and descending back to town. The Miradouro de Neptuno is so called after a famous photo taken during a storm, where a gigantic wave breaking over the viewpoint is said to resemble Neptune himself.
Levada – Faial PR03 FAI
Linear // 7.6 km // Easy
The levada that skirts the western slopes of the central caldera was constructed in 1964 in order to collect water for hydro electric power generation. As it’s reasonably flat, this walk is a great way to access the volcanic slopes without too much effort. Arrange to be transferred at either end before you set off.
Rocha da Fajã – Faial PRC02 FAI
Circular // 5 km // Medium
Fajã da Praia do Norte has a microclimate that’s ideal for Azorean vineyards and wine cellars. This route starts and finishes on the main circular road, descending to the rocky beach of Praia da Faja before re-ascending to the start point.
Rumo ao Morro de Castelo Branco – Faial PRC05 FAI
Circular // 3.7 km // Easy
The Castelo Branco is a coastal volcanic cone around 300,000 years old. This sort and easy route traverses sea cliffs, for excellent bird watching opportunities, to reach the Castelo Branco. Return is more direct via a tarmac road – or retrace your steps along the cliff top back to Lombega and your car.
Ribeirinha – Faial PRC09 FAI
Circluar // 8.3 km // Easy
This easy circular route explores the Ribeirinha parish and landscape. The volcanic complex of Ribeirinha is the oldest part of Faial at around 800,000 years old. In context: the last UK volcanic activity was about 60 million years ago, and the youngest rocks in the British Isles are the Thames Valley and Southern Hampshire, who’s shallow water sedimentary sandstones and mudstones are from 2-3 million years ago.
Faial from Coast to Coast
Linear // 36.8 km // Hard
A combination of the two routes Caminhos Velhos PR07 and Dez Vulcaoes PR06, the Faial Coast to Coast does exactly what it says on the tin, traversing the island from east to west. Along the walk you’ll circle the central caldera and finish at the Capelinhos eruption site of 1958. Most people chose to walk this route over two days with transfers in the middle back to accommodation in Horta. For the very fit and able the challenge is to complete it in a day …
We specialise in tailor-made holidays to the nine islands of the Azores. Our experienced team of specialists are ready to put together your personalised trip; just give them a call on 017687 721020.
Our island hopping holiday to the Azores was absolutely amazing,
This is a long email, so you might want to go grab yourself a cuppa before you start reading.
We just wanted to send you an email to say thank you so much for everything.
Our island hopping holiday to the Azores was absolutely amazing, it was far beyond our dreams and expectations, and that is certainly because of you and all your plans in putting this together for us. We just loved every second (apart from me and canyoning, we do not get along, but the boys absolutely loved it!) we just can’t believe all the things that we have seen, and done, and learned about! What an incredible place!
We have certainly been bitten by the Azorean bug and we can’t wait to get back there to explore the other islands. They’re very special places, each of them for their own right.
We felt as though we were treated like royalty from the minute we arrived in Sao Miguel, even the weather was kind to us (largely) we seemed to miss the adverse weather, either arriving somewhere that had had storms the day before, or leaving just before they arrived. We did have one morning of heavy rain when we went to the tropical gardens at Furnas, but we did manage to see some of the gardens before we gave up and went back to Caloura, where there was glorious sunshine, so we spent the afternoon at the pool and made the most of the Especial and fresh lemonade from the snack bar.
Every single person that we met, we were struck by how hard they work, and how happy they all are. Many of them never leaving the island they were born on, because, why would they want to?!
We love the Azorean people and their love and pride for their islands. Their sustainable way of living also struck deep with us. It’s the way we try very hard to live ourselves. Dave’s business is retrofit insulation, preparing old housing stock to a better more eco friendly way of conserving energy, so the way they live and respect their land, was of great interest to us.
For us all, Flores is a very special place. We went to the restaurant maresia while we were there and met the owner and his son. Although the restaurant itself is eclectic to say the least, after chatting to Vincent, we understood his dads way of living and the food was outstanding! We can’t wait to visit again.
All of our guides were amazing! Their knowledge and passion is admirable.
We just loved every second and can’t thank you enough for making our trip so smooth and completely stress free.
I will spend today writing reviews online for all the companies and guides that helped us on our trip.
A million thanks to you all Jake.
The Cole family
Personal service and efficient!
You really listened to what type of holiday we wanted and tailored our week accordingly. You understood what we were looking for and were so helpful and knowledgeable. Very personal service and efficient!
Linda from Norfolk
Professional and personal service!
Everything you do, you seem to do it professionally. I know I’m not your only client, but you make me feel like I am.
Bryan from Stoke
Azores Choice provided a prompt, helpful service. they found us the perfect accommodation for our needs and provided superb, expert advice on how to spend our week walking on San Miguel. I would certainly use them again.
Joan from Durham
Recommended small travel company!
Great little company with friendly staff. Organisation of flights & accommodation very efficient. When problems arise they are helpful and very reasonable in their efforts to resolve them. We would definitely use them again for a return trip.
Really great! Would use again!
Very efficient, friendly, helpful. Excellent local knowledge. Everything ran very smoothly, from supplying the tickets to airport pick ups and hotel bookings. Lovely accommodation selected. No complaints!
A wonderful break in a beautiful environment!
Everything was excellent. The information and organisation, the hotel and the island itself all exceeded our expectations. Whale watching and other trips out, fantastic. We will book again!
Great honeymoon package and experience!
They provided a great package at a good price. We found them to be helpful and a quality service was provided.
Nicola and Christopher – Winchester
Top notch service. Highly recommended!
Excellent service throughout. Very informative, with lots of literature, maps and the like. Attended their offices in Ponta Delgada – very impressed with Olivia, friendly and helpful. Paul was first class.
Lynne in Welton-by-Lincoln
Great company for first time Azores visit!
Really great company, will be recommending them. We had never visited the Azores before but this company helped us decided which islands to visit.