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Faial: The Blue Island of Azores

Faial, also known locally as Blue Island, is one of the islands of the central group of the archipelago of the Azores. The main town of Faial is Horta. The island has a port and an airport. The main activities of the island are agriculture, fishing, and livestock, however, tourism has been increasing its weight in the local economy.

Check our post about traveling to the Azores to have more information about this archipelago and how to visit it.

Faial has always been an island of sailors and many from outside the archipelago, who ended up there in the middle of their journeys across the Atlantic.

The island of Faial is very calm. In the low season there are many establishments that are closed because there is little tourism, and for us, this is the perfect opportunity to travel away from the usual crowds of the high season and also to travel more economically.

It is an island of small size, but that nevertheless has much to see and do, which will allow you to spend a few days exploring what it has to offer.

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How to get to Faial

The most common ways to get to this island are by boat or by plane, coming from another island of the archipelago or mainland Portugal. If you do not have the chance to get there on your own boat, we suggest you use the regular ferry service between the islands. The times and routes vary according to the time of the year.

Check here the prices and ferry schedules for the islands of the triangle.

If you plan to arrive by plane, the local company SATA has regular connections with the island.

If you use a SATA flight, you should keep your boarding pass with you after the fligh, as it gives access to the museums of the Direção Geral da Cultura e Arquipélago – Centro de Artes Contemporâneas.

Search for your flight to Faial with Momondo or Skyscanner.

How to get around Faial

The way you chose to travel within the islands of the Azores will condition how you will enjoy what each island has to offer you. Even though Faial is a relatively small island it is impossible to visit everything on foot or by bicycle, unless this is part of your travel goal. The public transport network exists and can be an alternative, but will not allow you to reach more remote places that turn out to be the most interesting.

So we advise you to rent a car or a motorbike. This way, if visiting other islands by boat is part of your plans, you can take your vehicle on the ferry and on arrival you already have transportation to explore your destination. Not all ferry routes take vehicles, so you should check with the company for schedules, routes, and seasonality. Renting a car in the Azores is relatively inexpensive, and the roads are of sufficient quality to be able to explore the islands without any problems.

Where to Stay in Faial Island

The offer of local accommodation and hotels is more than enough for the demand on the island. It is possible to find some 4-star hotels of reasonable quality. Depending on the type of trip you are looking for, it may make sense to rent an apartment temporarily or make a reservation at a local accommodation or hotel.

We chose Hotel do Canal, right next to the Horta Marina. The location is very central and allows you to quickly get to the port, which is an advantage considering that, in the morning, the ferry departs very early.

Search here your hotel in Faial.

What to Do and See in Faial Island

When we visited the island, we chose to build our itinerary from Horta to the north and around the island.

Explore the Center of Horta and the Marina

Being a seaside town, Horta has the ideal conditions for relaxing moments on the seawall next to the Marina. The view of this area is wonderful because in the background you can see the mountain of Pico.

The center of Horta has a lot of traditional commerce and restaurants, so it is a great place to spend the end of the afternoon before choosing a place to dine.

Monument of Nossa Senhora da Conceição

It is located in a high point relative to the city of Horta, which allows for spectacular views. It is worth stopping for a bit to see the view of the city over the sea. In the area surrounding the monument, there are some pastures where cattle are common.

Ribeirinha Lighthouse

It is an old lighthouse that was destroyed during an earthquake. Even destroyed, the structure has photographic interest and the area where it is located allows a breathtaking view of the sea. The old lighthouse was replaced by a more modern and smaller one that only fulfills its function of indicating to the boats that there is land there.

Almoxarife Beach

Almoxarife is a beach of black sand and, with the ideal atmospheric conditions, creates a wonderful landscape. There are some support structures, namely restaurants and cafes. Even if you do not visit the island during the summer, it is worth visiting this beach.

Dazzle yourself with the Hydrangeas on Cabouco Road

This plant, very common in the Azores, when in bloom becomes very beautiful. Now imagine a road on which there are huge hydrangeas on its banks. On the road from Ribeirinha to Cabouco, when the hydrangeas are in bloom, they create a natural wall for several kilometers that is scenery that dazzles anyone. The hydrangeas are usually blue, hence Faial being known as the Blue Island.

Ribeirinha Port

It is an old small fishing port that has in the area a picnic park that allows spending some time by the sea and having a picnic.

North Beach

It is a small black sand beach that satisfies the delights of anyone who visits the Azores with the goal of enjoying the beach. For those who do not have this goal, the landscape is very interesting too.

The Viewpoint of Cabeço das Pedras Negras

A viewpoint near the clouds that offers an entire view of Pico island. Usually, when the weather is cloudy the view can be almost zero. In the Azores, you should always keep in mind that the weather is very unstable and varies throughout the day.

The Caldera of Cabeço Gordo

The caldera is the huge crater of the most important volcano of the island of Faial. At the bottom of this crater, there is a lagoon that is part of a nature reserve. In the viewpoint inside the caldera, it is possible to access a trail to the lagoon for those who love hiking.

The Viewpoint of Cabeço Gordo

The view from this lookout point is fantastic, however, we had not the chance to check it was very foggy, preventing visibility. Here you can have a breathtaking view of Pico island from one end to the other. Unfortunately, the weather did not allow us to enjoy this view.

See the Landscape of the Capelinhos Volcano

Until a few years ago, the Capelinhos was an islet. After a strong eruption in 1957, the islet was connected to the main island. One can clearly notice the difference in color of the soil in the area where the eruption occurred and the landscape of the island changes completely as we begin to approach it. With the sea around and the lighthouse, the landscape is absolutely breathtaking.

Natural Pools of Varadouro or Poça da Rainha

In the middle of a rock formation, there are several areas of water accumulation that, with some human intervention, end up serving as natural swimming pools with sea water. There are some accommodation units in the area and also some restaurants.

Monte da Guia

Monte da Guia is adjacent to the city of Horta. It is a militarily protected zone, however, it is possible to climb by car and enjoy the view of Horta or Porto Pim.

Porto Pim

Porto Pim is a bay with a bathing zone very appreciated by those who visit the island. It is right next to Horta and can be an excellent alternative to bathing in the sea. It has a few restaurants in the area, namely our favorite, Genuíno.

Where to Eat on Faial Island

Genuíno (Porto Pim)

This place is more than just a restaurant, it is a place where you can expect to be very well received by Genuíno Madruga himself. For those who do not know, Genuíno circumnavigated the globe twice by boat, so imagine the stories he has to tell. Each of the tables has a glass showcase with objects he collected on his travels.

One of the times we went to the restaurant we stayed at a table alluding to the island of St. Helen, and that end up being part of his conversation with us while he served us at the table. We also shared with him our plans for a trip around the world and he shared with us his upcoming travel plans.

The food in the restaurant is great which coupled with the atmosphere and friendliness made this one of our favorite places on the island. We rarely repeat restaurants when we travel but to this one we had to go back.

Peter Sport Café

Peter Sport Café is a bar in the center of Horta. Over the years it was the meeting point of many sailors who came to the island by boat. Here it is possible, in addition to drinking a brand-name Gin, eat one of the local beef steaks that they serve. The place is nice and decorated with many motifs related to sailing.

Casa de Chá e Bar

It is a nice and exquisite place to have tea, eat a light meal or a dessert and have a drink while enjoying the outside garden.

Taberna do Porto Pim

It is a relaxed restaurant in Porto Pim where you can enjoy a full meal of local delicacies. It has a terrace with a great view and an interior with a very comforting decoration.

Praya (Almoxarife)

This restaurant on Almoxarife beach is housed in a modern glass building by the sea. When we visited the area the restaurant was closed, so we did not have a chance to try it. However we had very good references and whoever has the opportunity, we think it is worth trying.

Canto da Doca

In the city of Horta, in a small street that goes from the marina to Porto Pim, on the corner there is a restaurant whose specialty is food cooked in a hot stone. Choose the meat or fish you want, a hot stone comes to the table and you cook your dinner. The food is lovely, but it seems to lack anything in the environment for the experience to be great.

For us, visiting Faial was a very positive experience. Sometimes it feels good to get out of the confusion and enjoy the nature that some destinations have to offer.

It is a small island but with many cultural, natural and gastronomic points of interest.

On our trip we used Faial as a base to visit the two remaining islands of the triangle: São Jorge and Pico. We recommend it as it is a way to stay on budget and to travel in a more relaxed way.

If you still have time…

Dolphin and Whale Watching

There are several companies that are dedicated to getting people to observe whales and dolphins. To find them you only have to go to the marina of Horta.

Botanical Garden of Faial

In this garden, it is possible to know the rarest botanical species of the Azores, as well as the historical agricultural crops. The mission of this space is the study and conservation of the natural flora of the Azores.

Museum of Horta

The collections of this museum are dedicated to the history and regional interest. It has pieces of ethnography, objects, and gadgets linked to ancient crafts and traditional agricultural, linen, wool and ceramic technologies as well as technological objects.

Visit Pico and São Jorge islands

The island of Faial is part of the Triangle Islands of the central group, together with the island of São Jorge and the island of Pico. Its proximity and the existence of regular ferry services create the ideal conditions to use Faial Island as a base to visit the other two islands. This was our choice when we visited Faial Island.

Planning your trip to Faial?

If you are planning a trip, check our resources page.

Activities at Faial

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