Overview

Introduction

The Blue Island - 21km long and 14km wide with an area of 173 sq. km, this five sided island has become the resting place of transatlantic sailors. Horta, the main port, has a cosmopolitan and exciting feel and, at bars and restaurants, one hears snippets of sailing stories from around the world.  The atmosphere at the legendary Peter’s Cafe, on the harbour-front, encapsulates the very essence of nautical adventure.

The island is dominated by the 1,043m cone of its vast Caldeira (volcanic crater) which is accessed through a tunnel in the cone’s side. For keen walkers or botanists it is possible to book a private walk in the Caldeira with a forest guide.

From mid-June to August the island is a riot of blue as the hedges of hydrangeas, originally imported from China and Japan, burst into bloom.

Horta is an excellent base from which to visit the islands of Pico and São Jorge (summer months only), explore the green Caldeira (now a nature reserve) and Capelinhos, the rather eerie site of the 1957 volcanic eruption, which transformed the geography of the island.

From Horta there are wonderful and ever changing views of the volcano on Pico, 8km across the water.

Read more

About Faial

Area: 173 sq. km
Length: 21 km (13 miles)
Width: 14 km (9 miles)
Population: 15,000 inhabitants
Capital: Horta

Highlights

Cheers!
All visitors to Faial must try the famed Gin & Tonic at Peter’s Café. This colourful bar attracts locals, international sailors and tourists alike – a veritable hive of activity.

Volcanic origins
Visit the fabulous Capelinhos museum and learn all about the volcanic formation of the Azores including the last eruption that took place on Faial in 1957. Not to be missed!

Picture perfect
Take a stroll along Horta’s marina and admire the colourful artwork left by international sailors passing through.

Porto Pim
The Blug Flag beach of Porto Pim is located within a 5-minute walk of the centre of Horta.

Whale and dolphin watching
Faial is an important base for whale and dolphin watching excursions.(Click on activities)

Festivals

  • Semana do Mar (Sea Week) in Horta (August) – Religious and cultural events celebrating the sea.
  • Holy Ghost Festivities (7 weeks after Easter).

Activities

Enjoy a city tour of Horta on Faial, Azores.

Explore the city of Horta on foot with a local guide, taking in the major sights and learning all about the local architecture, history and culture of the islanders.

Price is £21 per person

Notes

  • Excursion provider: Azores Experiences
  • Meeting point is Horta marina at 09:00
  • Duration: Half Day (2½ hours)
  • Minimum 2 people and maximum 10
  • Transfers from and to hotels outside Horta are possible at a supplement on requestent on request

Enjoy an unforgettable adventure filled with caves, volcanic drop-offs, underwater arches and an abundance of both Atlantic and Tropical fish life – parrot fish, groupers, sting and eagle rays, moray and conger eels, barracudas, amberjacks, turtles and dolphins. A fully equipped PADI dive centre is based in Horta.

Princess Alice bank (Jul-Sep)

The setting in the middle of the Atlantic offers the unique possibility to dive in the realm of seamounts. One of the few diveable truly oceanic seamounts of the Atlantic is located 45 miles SSW of the dive centre, the Princess Alice bank. Here you are venturing in to the kingdom of the sea nomads and the large oceanic predators. Glide among dozens of manta rays, giant jacks, barracuda walls and massive schools of skipjack tuna. An experience you will never forget.

Meet at Horta marina at 07:30; 3 hour trip each way with about 4-5 hours at the site; 2 dives are included with a break on the surface (1-2 hours); About 8-9 hours at sea in total; Not recommended for those who suffer from sea sickness; Varied diving experience accepted as the sea bank is 32m deep, and there are always two trained guides present. Those with less experience can stay at a lesser depth because the mammals also come to the surface; A snack and soft drinks are included.

Price is £253 per person (2 dives from a Catamaran) or £223 (2 dives from a Zodiac)


Shark Dive (Jul-Sep)

If you choose to venture in to the nearby Condor bank, the domain of one of the most beautiful and elegant ocean predators – the blue shark, then you will experience a dive unlike any other in the whole of Europe.

Meet at Horta marina at 08:00; Duration of the trip is about 4-5 hours, depending on when the sharks appear – usually it takes less time; Picnic lunch (sandwiches and fruit) included; Divers and snorkellers welcome; Sharks are brought to the surface by feeding them sardines, mackerel and tuna blood; Dives no more than 10 metres required; No cages required as the species that they usually see in the Azores are Blue Sharks (Prionace Glauca), Mako Sharks (Isurus Oxyrinchus) and Hammerhead Sharks (Sphyrna Zygaena).

Price is £172 per person


Coastal Dives (Apr-Oct)

There is a wide variety of dives targeting different species in different locations, banks near the coast, volcanic caves, etc. Locations are chosen depending on the experience of the divers. It is possible to dive in these locations with good visibility and no current between the months of April to October.

Price is £71 per person (Baptism - 1 dive)

Price is £61 per person (Night or Cave dive)

Notes

  • Excursion provider: Norberto Diver
  • Meeting point is Norberto Diver base in Horta marina at 08:30 for a normal dive; 07:30 off shore dives (Princess Alice); 08:00 Shark dives (or can be taken in the afternoon on request)
  • Daily activity (from mid Mar-mid Oct for baleen whales and other marine mammals
  • Suitable for all, from complete beginner to the most experienced, with boat dives.
  • Catamaran (8-10 people max) and Zodiacs (4-6 people max)
  • Best season is Jul-Sep for mantas (devil rays) and other pelagics (bonito tuna, barracudas, skipjack tuna and some varieties of rays)
  • Coastal dives include a 15 litre tank (232 BAR), weight belt, dive master guidance and boat transportation to and from the dive sites, within a 6-mile radius
  • Minimum age of 12yrs applies if a Junior open water certificate achieved
  • All divers have to carry a valid diving and medical certificates confirming fitness to dive
  • Supplement per person for hire of wetsuit and regulator applicable locally (20 Euros per dive)
  • There is a PADI dive shop in Horta Enjoy a city tour of Horta on Faial, Azores.

 

Jeep Tour

Why not experience the natural beauty of the blue island of Faial in a 4x4 wheel drive. Enjoy an unforgettable journey through the islands’ best trails. Driving through trees and pastures overlooking the Atlantic Ocean you will discover places and landscapes of rare beauty not often encountered by the average tourist.

Price is £43 per person (Half Day) and £95 per person (Full Day)

Notes

  • Excursion provider: Azores Experiences
  • Daily pick-up from all hotels at around 09:00 (Half Day) or 09:30 (Full Day)
  • Half Day: 4 hours
  • Full Day: 7½ hours including lunch
  • Minimum 2 people and maximum 6
  • Escorted by an English speaking driver/guide

Book a private Taxi Tour with an English speaking driver on Faial.

Sunvil is able to pre-book the following private taxi tours on Faial with English speaking driver. Tours can also be tailor-made to suit the individual requirements of our clients, please telephone us for a quotation.

Faial Island (Full Day)

Depart from Horta towards Espalamaca, which offers a panoramic viewpoint over the city and over the islands of Pico and São Jorge, then via the mountain road towards Caldeira - the highest point on the island at 1,043 metres, the central crater, and Cabeço Gordo. Continue north to Praia do Norte and Capelinhos, the site of the last volcanic eruption in the Azores in 1957. Visit the museum, which details the evolution of the eruption. Taking the south road, stop at Varadouro to admire the natural swimming pools. Return to Horta with a last stop at the volcanic arches of Ponta Furada.

Price from Horta is £206 per taxi

Pico Island (Full Day)

Depart from Horta harbour to Pico Island (30 minutes by boat). Depart from Madalena to the village of São Roque on the north coast of Pico, visiting the black rocks of Cachorro and Lajido (with an option of visiting a small vineyard museum – 2 Euros entry fee per person and sampling some Pico wines (five varieties) for 7 Euros per person) en route. Take the mountain road (altitude 800m) towards Lajes do Pico, for many years, the centre of the whaling industry in the Azores. Continue on to the Whaler’s Museum (entrance fee not included) and home to a fascinating exhibition about the industry. Return to Madalena, via the south coast stopping at Misterio de São João and São Mateus church. Return to Faial by boat.

Price from Madalena harbour (Pico) is £157 per taxi

Notes

  • Excursion provider: Melo
  • Pick-up from hotels on Pico at around 09:00
  • Meeting point on Pico (when coming from Faial) is Madalena harbour
  • Prices are based on a maximum of 3 people per taxi
  • Full day (7 hours)
  • A qualified English speaking guide can be provided at a supplement on request
  • Pick up and drop off from hotels outside of Horta (Faial) at a supplement on request

 

Swimming with Dolphins

Swim with dolphins in the blue Atlantic waters around Faial and Pico. The four species of dolphin that are regularly sighted here are the Common, Bottlenose, Risso and Atlantic Spotted Dolphins. Striped Dolphins are also sighted and people are permitted to snorkel with them, but due to their normal behaviour, fast and elusive, they are not considered as a good choice.

Price is £76 per adult (Mar-Oct) and £38 per child (6-12yrs)

Notes

  • Excursion provider: Azores Experiences
  • Meeting point is Azores Experiences base in Horta marina departing at 08:30 or 14:30
  • Daily 3-hour trip (in the water for c.10-minutes)
  • Briefing by the skipper (c.25-minutes)
  • Two people allowed in the water at a time (only free diving permitted). Contact with the dolphins is not
  •  permitted
  • Minimum 2 crew members on board at all times. The final decision to dive rests with the skipper on the day
  • Maximum of 8 people per boat (excluding crew members)
  • Minimum child age is 6 years (accompanied by a parent or guardian)
  • Location is around Faial and Pico, wherever the "lookout" spots the pods of dolphins
  • Wetsuits, dive mask and snorkel are provided; fins are also available, but optional (should only be worn by
  •  skilled divers/snorklers)
  • Private excursions can be arranged at a supplement
  • Pre-booking in July and August is recommended
  • Important: For experienced, confident swimmers only

 

 

Whale and Dolphin Watching Trip

Take a trip of a lifetime on board a Zodiac in search of cetacean activity – 24 of the planet’s 80 species of whales and dolphins have been sighted off the coast of the Azores.

Price is £66 per adult (Mar-Oct) and £33 per child (6-12 years)

Notes

  • Excursion provider: Azores Experiences
  • Meeting point is Hortacetaceos base in Horta marina departing at 08:30 or 14:30
  • Daily 3-hour excursions
  • Transfers to/from the whaling base are not included
  • Minimum child age is 6 years (accompanied by a parent or guardian)
  • Apr to Sep is the best period to see whales off Faial
  • Briefing by a marine biologist (c.20-minute talk)
  • Zodiac boats (small, rigid hull inflatables carrying up to 12 people) are used
  • We cannot guarantee that you will see a cetacean but it is unlikely that you should be so unlucky
  • Pre-booking in July and August is recommended


Important: Children aged 4yrs or under, pregnant women or any person suffering from severe back problems are not allowed on the Zodiac boats.

Holiday Tips

The Caldeira: For walkers we would highly recommend a guided tour of the Caldeira which dominates the central landscape of Faial. Accompanied by a local guide, from the Forestry Service, it is possible to descend into the Caldeira and explore the nature reserve. This trip is only possible with an authorised guide and costs £48 per person (must be pre-booked).

Canto do Doca: The Canto do Doca restaurant is located on the harbour-front in Horta, Faial. At this local restaurant diners are able to cook their own food (meat and fish) on hot stones. The restaurant has a lively atmosphere, friendly staff and is popular with locals and visitors alike. Recommended for an evening meal with a difference.

Useful information

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Rebecca Staniford
Best time to go
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC
Time Difference

GMT - 1 hour

Currency

Euro

Language

Portuguese

Average flight times

4 hours 5 minutes

  • Average temperature

    Average rainfall

Note: Map is for guidance purposes only.

Talk to our The Azores expert

Rosanna Melaragni
Rosanna Melaragni

Rosanna is the head of our Discovery Department which covers tailor made holidays to Portugal and the Azores, Italy and Sicily, Scandinavia and the new programme to Spain. She is our longest serving member of staff having joined in 1994 after completing an honours degree in French and Italian and subsequently working for a tour operator in Yorkshire. She is responsible for brochure writing, contracting accommodation, programme costing, computer inputting and generally troubleshoots where necessary. She has global knowledge of our tailor made programme.

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
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