Our Azorean adventure starts in the beautiful island of Flores, the western most island of this mid Atlantic archipelago, designated an UNESCOBiosphere Reserve in 2009, before sailing to the central islands to Faial, Pico and Terceira.
We spend 3 days of our voyage in the lush paradise of Flores Island where waterfalls and volcanic lagoons abound. On our first day we take advantage of the Santa Maria Manuela’s zodiacs, and our crew’s adventurous spirit by exploring the hidden sea caves and rock formations of the northeast cliffs and swimming off the nearby beaches.
Flores is a hikers and swimmers paradise, so we dedicate day two to those with adventure in mind. You are free to hire a car or hike to the nearby waterfalls.
The majestic Ribeira Grande Waterfall plummets from a granite wall on the west of the island. In contrast, but equally striking, the tiny waterfall of Ribeira da Cruz drops into a hidden pond, surrounded by the lush vegetation of the valley. The most famous of the Flores waterfalls is Ribeira do Ferreiro in the Morro Alto Forest Reserve, with its walls totally covered in intense vegetation. Closer to our anchorage, the Poço do Bacalhau waterfall drops 90 meters into a plunge pool ideal for a refreshing dip. Just below these falls lies the village of Faja Grande, with a number of local restaurants serving the traditional island dish of Caldeirada de Peixe (fish stew), a local delicacy perhaps only matched by grilled pole caught tuna.
Further inland, the Bordões rock towers over the landscape. Created 570,000 years ago, this huge basalt column resembles a pipe organ and is bigger than the famous Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
For those who’ve caught the Flores bug, day 3 allows time to visit some of the seven lakes of Lagoa Rasa, Lagoa Funda, Lagoa Seca, Lagoa Branca and Lagoa da Lomba, or just enjoy the nearby beaches.
If time allows Flores’ unique birdlife offers an exquisite insight into this natural resting point for migratory birds after their passage from the Americas. Feeding and breeding sites abound for populations of Cory's, Little and Manx shearwaters, roseate and common terns, and Madeiran storm petrels.
After 3 days on anchor the crew aboard the Santa Maria Manuela will be eager to hoist the sails and head east. There´s nothing our crew like more then to share their knowledge of sailing with our guests, and they will encourage you to get actively involved with all aspects of the ship’s life. Volunteers to hoist and trim the sails for best speed will be most welcome. The feeling of helming a 67m sailing ship as she responds to the command of the wheel is something to savor forever.
Knot classes are a great way to learn a new skill whilst sharing sailing stories with shipmates, and if the weather allows there's the opportunity to go up the mast or relax in the bowsprit netting. A drink at sunset on the deck is the perfect way to round off each day.
As Mt Pico appears on the horizon, we take a welcome stop in Horta for a refreshing gin and tonic at the famous Peter's Café Sport bar frequented by yachtsmen since 1918. Stroll in the marina and marvel at the centuries old sailors art.
Mount Pico looms to the east at an altitude of 2,351m, and is far too tantalizing a prospect to pass us by. Our voyage from Faial Island across the deep sound offers us the chance to spot for whales in the channel if we’re lucky. Sperm whales are the resident species, along with blue, fin and sei whales. Bottlenose, Atlantic spotted and common dolphins also usual species here at this time of the year, and whale sharks have recently been making a rare appearance.
For those who wish to climb Mt Pico, the walk to the top is tiring but rewarded by panoramic views which, on a clear day, offer a glimpse of the nearby islands of Faial, Sao Jorge, and Terceira with Graciosa in the distance to the north. (A prebooked guide and good fitness is required to climb Pico)
Pico’s hot, dry climate, together with the mineral-rich lava soil and the stunning mosaic of black stone "currais" (plots) – makes the island perfect for the cultivation of vines.
We finish our voyage on Terceira Island docking in UNESCO-listed Angra do Heroísmo, the Azores' oldest city, with its 16th-century fortress and Renaissance town. Once you have disembarked consider visiting Algar do Carvão with its 90m-deep volcanic chimney, and the island’s small vineyards and lava-rock bathing pools in Biscoitos.
NOTE: Shore excursions are not included within the price of this voyage. We recommend you book transport and tours in advance.