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Madeira and Azores (Portugal) > Pictures and travelogues > Pico Island and vineyards, Azores

Pictures from Pico island in the Azores, Portugal: the coastline and the vineyards landscape. 

Pico island in the Azores
Pico island coastline in the Azores, Portugal.

The Azores archipelago is composed of nine volcanic islands which are part of Portugal: Flores and Corvo, to the west; Graciosa, Terceira, São Jorge, Pico, and Faial in the center; and São Miguel and Santa Maria to the east. They are located in the North Atlantic Ocean, a 2h50 flight from Lisbon. Each of the nine islands is inhabited and has an aerodrome. There are flights from Lisbon to Horta, Pico, Terceira, or Ponta Delgada (São Miguel).

Each island has its specific features. Flores (143 km²) has deep valleys, inactive volcanoes, lake-filled craters, and high peaks. During the summer, the island is covered with thousands of hydrangeas, hence its Portuguese name of Flores (Flores means flowers in Portuguese). The Flores Nature Park includes the central plateau, parts of the coast, and many lakes. Corvo is the northernmost island and the smallest island (14.5 km²) of the Azores archipelago. It is home to Corvo Nature Park.  

Unique among the islands of Azores, São Jorge (238 km²) is uncharacteristically long and slender. Walking, mountain biking, canyoning, kayaking, windsurfing, sailing, fishing, and scuba diving are the main outdoor activities in São Jorge.  

Pico Island Vineyards, Unesco world heritage
Pico Island Vineyards (UNESCO world heritage) in the Azores, Portugal.

Pico Island (447 km²) is the second largest island in the Azores archipelago. It is home to the 2351 meter high volcano Ponta do Pico, the highest point of Portugal and the only place where it snows in the Azores. Pico features a nice mix of lava stone and exotic vegetation in an ever-changing landscape on a sparsely populated island. Pico is known as Black Island for its black volcanic earth.

A geometrical network of small walled fields covers the strip of flat land along the coast. The walls were constructed from irregular black basalt stones to shelter vines from sea breezes with walls around 2 m high. The origins of this viniculture date back to the 15th century. Small groups of cellars are located in the settlements and near to cultivated land. These small one- or two-story buildings, built from basalt stones, with shallow clay tile roofs, were inhabited seasonally during the grape harvest, with the upper story being used as accommodation. Some of the vineyards have been largely abandoned and are now extensively covered by vegetation while others continue to produce quality wines.

The extraordinarily beautiful man-made landscape of small, stone walled fields is testimony to generations of small-scale farmers who, in a hostile environment, created a sustainable living and a much prized wine. It has been inscribed on the UNESCO world heritage list.

Pico is a base for whale watchers, fishers, divers, and sailors. It has also many trails for hikers, bikers, and horse riders.

Faial (173 km²) is also known as Blue Island. Read more about Faial Island

Graciosa is also known as the White Island. It is a small island (61 km²). It is a volcanic island, dominated by a 1.6 km wide caldera located in the southeast. There are thermal baths in Santa Cruz da Graciosa.

Terceira (396.75 km²) is also referred to as the "lilac island" is one of the main islands of the archipelago, with a population of 56,000 inhabitants. It is the location of Angra do Heroísmo, the historical capital of the archipelago, the Azores' oldest city and UNESCO Heritage Site. Angra do Heroismo was an obligatory port of call from the 15th century until the advent of the steamship in the 19th century. It served as a link for almost three centuries between Europe and the 'New World'. Even following the earthquake of 1 January 1980, Angra has preserved the better part of its monumental heritage and a homogenous urban ensemble.

The island of Terceira consists of four overlapping stratovolcanoes with most of the communities living along the coastal lowlands and river-valleys. The relief of the island creates a wild and hilly landscape with many walking and hiking trails. Terceira including the Praia da Vitória bay is also an ideal destination for windsurfers, sailors, water skiers, fishers or, depending upon the season, dolphin and whale watchers.

São Miguel Island (760 km²), also known locally as the "green Island", is the largest and most populous island in the Azores. The island has around 140,000 inhabitants, with 45,000 of these people living in Ponta Delgada, the largest city in the archipelago. The fields and roads of the island are lined with hortensias in various colors during the summer. Hiking, mountain biking, canyoning, horse riding, golfing, fishing, and seasonally whale watching are some of the main outdoor activities in São Miguel. The north coast has also great spots for surfers and bodyboarders.

Santa Maria (97 km²) is the southernmost island in the Azores. The island is primarily known for its white sand beaches (such as Praia Formosa), distinct chimneys, and dry warm weather with surfing, sailing, fishing, and diving as main outdoor activities. The Nature Park of Santa Maria includes thirteen protected areas.

Pico Island Vineyards in the Azores
Pico vineyards landscape in the Azores, Portugal.


 

Links

More pictures from the Azores
Find here many pieces of information and more pictures of Dirk Wuyts (ADC Scuba Diving Antwerp Club) about his trip to the Azores: Pico Island, Faial Island and several diving spots.

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Pictures from Pico island in the Azores, Portugal: the coastline and the vineyards landscape.Travel guide to the Azores with many nice pictures.