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Overview

Introduction

The Brown Island - Sao Jorge is a long (55km) and narrow (8km wide) island with a total area of 246 sq.km, which was formed by a series of successive volcanic eruptions.

The craggy coastline plunges almost vertically (400m in parts) into the ocean with unique, frequent, small fertile flat areas (fajas) at the base of the cliffs. The central platform runs at an average height of 700m, rising to 1053m at the highest point.

80% of the island is high pasture which supports 20,000 dairy cattle producing high quality milk from which comes the famous Sao Jorge cheese, still manufactured using traditional techniques and the original recipe.

This is an island for walking, for exploring the little settlements on the fajas along the coast by car, for admiring the stunning scenery and visiting the two small port towns of Velas and Calheta.

16km across the water is Pico (accessible in one hour by boat) where a 2,351m volcano dominates the skyline and seems but a stone’s throw away.

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About Sao Jorge

Area: 245 sq. km
Length: 55 km (34 miles)
Width: 8 km (5 miles)
Population: 11,000 inhabitants
Capital: Velas

Highlights

Cheese
Try the delicious Sao Jorge cheese – you won’t be disappointed.

Pico da Esperanca
From here, the highest peak (1,053m) on the island, you can admire the central islands of Terceira, Graciosa, Faial and Pico. Other fine views can be enjoyed from the Miradouro points overlooking the Faja do Ouvidor and the Faja dos Cubres, and from the summit of Pico da Velha.

Birdlife
The Fajas of Santo Cristo and of Cubres are the best birding spots on the island, mainly for seabirds, waders, herons and egrets.  

Handicrafts
In Ribeira do Nabo you will find a small co-operative making and selling lace work and weaved products.

Fact
The lagoon of Faja do Santo Cristo is the only place in the Azores where clams can be fished.

Festivals

  • Espírito Santo (7 weeks after Easter)
  • Cultural week in Velas (1st week of July)
  • Music festival in Calheta (last week of July)

Note: Dates are subject to change.

Activities

Canyoning

Canyoning is an exciting combination of walking, scrambling, jumping, abseiling and swimming in some of the most spectacular scenery on the island of São Jorge. It has become a very popular extreme sport with fans all over the world and provides a unique experience in the middle of nature and at the same time moments of pure adrenaline.

Baptism
This activity is aimed at beginners with no previous experience of canyoning. Basic training in rappelling techniques are provided and used to scale small vertical (not exceeding 15m) walls with a maximum number of six abseilings. The objective is to enjoy a new experience in a natural setting.

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Duration: 4-5 hours
  • Picnic lunch (sandwich, juice, water, chocolate and fruit) included
  • Price is £86 per person

Notes:

  • Meet at Discover Experience kiosk at Calheta harbour at 09:30
  • Daily pick-up from properties in Velas or Queimada at a supplement on request
  • Duration: 4-5 hours – all year
  • Location: Eastern part of the island
  • A short briefing is included before each activity and instruction in rappelling techniques
  • Maximum 8 people / Minimum 2 people
  • Minimum age: 8 years (Baptism) 
  • Equipment required: Towel, swim suit, shoes that can get wet (preferably mountain boots or running shoes), warm clothing, spare pair of shoes and clothing for the trip home and a bottle of water
  • Safety equipment provided: Neoprene wetsuit, socks and gloves, helmet and harness

Guided Walks

The islands of the Azores, with their mild climate (day time temperature ranging from 14-22 degrees), are the most wonderful islands for walking. All walks are to be booked and paid for locally.

Serra do Topo / Faja dos Vimes
Starting at Serra do Topo, this trail stretches for 5km until reaching Faja dos Vimes. It begins at an altitude of 700 metres and descends to sea level in Faja dos Vimes on the South Coast of the Island. This trail was used by the ancient Faja inhabitants twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon to collect milk from the cows. It has a steep descent, mostly down steps. Here the use of hiking poles and proper footwear is recommended. This trail has a slope of 20 to 30 degrees and it starts with open views of the surrounding landscapes (Pico Island, Atlantic Ocean and South coast of the Island) and then closes in on its own flora, only opening again when reaching the road in Fajã dos Vimes. Here you can taste the delicious and unique coffee that is produced in Europe accompanied by a visit to the plantation of Cafe Nunes.

  • Duration: 5km (3 hours)
  • Difficulty: Grade 2 (Medium)
  • Linear Trail
  • Elevation: 700m

 

Norte Pequeno (KM0)
KM0 is a network of trails in the Parish of Norte Pequeno on the north coast of Sao Jorge Island. There are 5 trails that share the same starting point and each of them ends in a different Faja. Faja do Mero, Faja das Funduras, Faja da Peneda, Faja das Pontas and Faja do Neca, a total length (all together) of 11km. Passing through these Fajas you will see that the geomorphology of each flat land area has different characteristics. At some points on this trail, especially at Fajã do Mero, you may have the chance to see an ancient steel cable used to transport firewood and incense that was cut in the high rocks of that site.

  • Duration: 9km (4 hours)
  • Difficulty: Grade 2 (Medium)
  • Circular Trail
  • Elevation: 450m

 

Faja Sao Joao / Lourais / Faja dos Vimes
This trail starts in the beautiful Faja de Sao Joao, located on the south coast of Sao Jorge Island. It is a track dug in the hillside which is always in contact with the local culture, from architecture to agriculture. The first 5km are on the way to Lourais, which rises to 650m, and passes through Faja de Alem and Faja do Ginjal. After the Loural, the walk continues for another 5km downhill until reaching Faja dos Bodes. From this Faja, there is a further 1.5km to Faja dos Vimes where you will have the opportunity to visit the only coffee plantation in Europe - the plantation of Cafe Nunes.

  • Duration: 10km (5 hours)
  • Difficulty: Grade 2 (Medium)
  • Linear Trail
  • Elevation: 650m

 

Serra do Topo / Faja da Caldeira do Santo Cristo / Faja dos Cubres
This route starts in Serra do Topo, next to the parking lot in the vicinity of Topo’s Wind Farm. It begins by climbing a wide track flanked by hydrangeas. Then there is a descent through a shortcut down the slope where you will see several species of endemic flora such as the Azores heather, the Azores juniper, the Azores blueberry and the Azores sanicle. The descent alternates between dirt and paved stone paths. Along the way you will visit a waterfall and continue the descent towards Faja do Santo Cristo. Upon arriving at the Faja, the walk proceeds along the waterfront that protects the Faja from the waves, and there will be a stop in a small hillock with a wider view of the Faja and the cliffs that backs it. Further ahead you will have a short stop in the Hermitage courtyard from where you will see the beautiful lagoon where you can bathe and which is also well known for being the cradle of the famous Sao Jorge clams. From here, follow the shortcut that surrounds the beautiful coastal lagoon on the left, towards Faja do Belo. After this Faja, follow the trail until arriving at a parking lot. You will continue on the road for another 800m until arriving at Nossa Senhora de Lourdes Hermitage where the trail ends.

  • Duration: 10km (5 hours)
  • Difficulty: Grade 2 (Medium)
  • Linear Trail
  • Elevation: 700m

 

Price for each walk is £94 per person (based on 2 people)

Notes:

  • Daily pick-up from properties in Velas or Queimada at 09:00 - supplier Discover Experience
  • Departures: Daily
  • Minimum age: 6 years - Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian
  • Equipment required: light clothing suitable for walking (recommended for spring / summer) and slightly warm and waterproof clothing (recommended for autumn / winter); footwear such as hiking boots with high tops to strengthen the ankle; a backpack; sunscreen; hiking pole (option); bathing suit or shorts and towel (optional and recommended for the summer), snack and a bottle of water.

Sea Kayaking

The kayaks used are ‘sit on top’ kayaks - they do not flood and are virtually unsinkable in normal use, and are able to navigate up to 300 meters from the shore. Clients will always be accompanied by one or two monitors depending on the route chosen. A short briefing is included before the activity.

Route to Faja dos Vimes
This activity begins at the harbour of Calheta (south coast). Heading east you will paddle to the Faja dos Vimes enjoying the scenery and the tranquil waters of the Pico - Sao Jorge channel and the only place where it is possible to visit the coffee plantations, try the coffee and visit the local handicraft facilities.

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Duration: 3 hours (7km)

Price is £86 per person (based on 2 people)

Route to Ribeira Seca
The Route to Ribeira Seca Bay is the shortest route, ideal for people who have little or no experience in this activity or for families with children who want to enjoy a short, fun and different tour during their holiday, keeping in touch with the Azorean Sea.

  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Duration: 1 hour (3.5km)

Price is £35 per person (based on 2 people)


Notes:

  • Meet at Discover Experience kiosk at Calheta harbour at 09:30
  • Daily pick-up from properties in Velas or Queimada at a supplement on request
  • Maximum 6 people - 2 people per kayak
  • Minimum age: 8 years - Children must be accompanied by parent/guardian
  • Equipment required: Towel, swim suit, rain jacket, shoes that can get wet, warm clothing, spare pair of shoes and clothing for the trip home and sun lotion and hat
  • Safety equipment provided: Life jackets

Land Tour

São Jorge Van Tour (Full Day)

Learn all about the history, culture, landscape, and gastronomy of São Jorge Island. The tour will start with São Jorge Cheese, which has a status of a Protected Designation of Origin, produced exclusively from raw cows’ milk. It has a strong and spicy flavour which increases with the time of ripening; or Queijo Canada, where the traditional way of making cheese is still maintained today. It is made exclusively from cows’ milk. The tour will include viewpoints with breath-taking views of the neighbouring islands, slopes, high cliffs and charming lagoons; Monuments shook by relentless volcanoes in the early 19th century; Handicrafts, where the tradition of creating pieces in wool, linen or cotton are produced in the creaking old wooden looms; Arabic coffee planted and cultivated in Fajãs, mere metres above sea level, unlike other places in the world, where it is grown at high altitudes; and a Forest Reserve of great beauty and natural diversity, hosting various species of fauna and flora.

Price is £183 per person (based on 2 people). Prices for other group sizes on request.

Notes:

  • Pick up from hotels at 09:00 - supplier Discover Experience
  • Full Day: 7 hours
  • Lunch included at a local restaurant.
  • Included: English speaking guide, visit to one of the cheese factories with cheese tasting, visit to Santa Bárbara's church, Ribeira do Nabo handicraft workshop, Cafe Nunes plantation and a handicraft workshop.
  • Maximum 8 people
  • Recommended: light and comfortable clothes; bathing suit and towel (optional - recommended for the summer).

 

Useful information

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Get in touch
Rosanna Melaragni
Rosanna Melaragni
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

Alison
Alison Garrard

Alison joined the Sunvil team in 2019 but has long been an extended member of our family, having sold our holidays as a travel agent for 25 years! Sunvil is more than a business, our approach to travel - introducing visitor to lesser-known places and placing them among the locals, is a concept that our staff buy into and feel passionate about. Our holidays are those that we ourselves enjoy and would recommend for our friends and family. Alison is no exception having chosen a Sunvil trip to the Azores for her honeymoon and having recently returned from Veneto.

Call one of our experts to discuss your next holiday with Sunvil on

020 8758 4722

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South coast Faja, Sao Jorge, the Azores

Sao Jorge

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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
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Spain, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774
  • Marketing: 020 8758 4731

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

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
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