Pico first appears in the 14th Century Medici Atlas under the name Li Columbi or Island of Pigeons, before the Portuguese renamed her on their arrival in the 15th Century.
Pico and the neighbouring islands of Sao Jorge, Faial form the ‘Ilhas Triangulo’ – a triangle of islands which are both geographically and culturally close. The three islands were settled around 1460 and were governed from across the channel (in Horta) by Flemish nobleman and émigré Josse van Huerter. He encouraged his fellow countrymen to follow in his footsteps – their technological know-how built the windmills you’ll still see dotted around the island. They also introduced the drystone Currais plots which protect the vines in the wintertime – a technique which was granted UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2004.
Away from the vineyards, the island’s most visually-striking, natural monument is the Montanha do Pico: an immense stratovolcano which dominates the landscape at 2351m (Portugal’s highest peak). Pico’s an island of fascinating volcanic landscapes: at Arcos do Cachorro in the north you’ll see some of the most unusual lava formations in the Azores, where the volcanic coastline is perforated with grottoes, tunnels and arches. And in the south, there are the lava caves at Gruta das Torres –just 1500 years ago and only open to the public since the 1990s; the cave systems total length is still not 100% confirmed but it’s thought to be in the region of around 5km.
Pico is the original home of whale watching in the Azores - where French conservationist Serge Viallelle first demonstrated that whale tourism offered a more sustainable future than whale hunting. Spend a week mixing trips to sea with vineyards tours on our Whales and wine holiday.
The island also has one of the largest selections of self-catering accommodation in the Azores – perfect for a Pico Family Adventure.