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.
The trip between Lisbon and Funchal was really exceptional thanks to the kindness and professionalism of the crew that was always available to answer all our requests. A trip far too short.
It was my first cruise aboard Santa Maria Manuela but it will certainly not be the last.
Catherine - France
I can't imagine the Santa Maria Manuela having a bigger fan than me. It was a remarkable experience and I really enjoyed getting to know the crew as well as all of the passengers. It was a great group of people to spend 6 days with.
Sailwiz - Spain
It was obvious that the crew was very capable of doing everything without the help of the passengers, but I loved that they wanted us to be involved and gave us tasks that we could do. It is also evident how important safety on board is and I was impressed to see all of the crew members in harnesses and helmets whenever they were in slightly precarious positions preparing a sail to be raised or fixing something.
Sailwiz – Spain
The trip was absolutely incredible. I am extremely impressed with the ship and the crew. I felt very at home on board and the crew was so kind, helpful and knowledgeable. I feel like I learned so much about the ship and navigation and I know many of the other passengers feel the same. I truly enjoyed the trip and hope that I will go aboard again.
Julia – USA
My friends and familly are all '50 shades of green' with envy. Thankyou from Andrew and me to you and the crew for an experience of a lifetime.
Gordon - Scotland
As for the trip to Madeira was the best experiences I have had and I take the opportunity to congratulate your team and crew who are fantastic ...
We want to say THANK YOU to all the crew they all were so helpful. Nothing was too much trouble. If the world would follow Santa Maria Manuela’s example we would all live in a better place.
Peter & Ron, UK
Absolutely loved the trip from Lisbon. Such a beautiful ship - have fallen completely in love with her and can't wait to book the next trip.
It was a wonderful journey. The ship is beautiful and in a perfect condition, we felt comfortable at any time, thanks to the gentle team. The meals were very tasteful (thanks to the cook!).
Katrin - Holland
We really enjoyed our Madeira-Tenerife crossing onboard SMM. Great crew, fantastic downwind sailing, pleasant ‘guests’.
Pierre - France
The crew took good care of us, I just hope they enjoyed the trip as much as we did. Could not have been any better.
Irmgard – Germany
Without a doubt, this year the best experience I had was being on board Santa Maria Manuela. The days on board were extraordinary. Crew 5⭐
Nuno - Portugal